Encouraging Your Team by “Speaking Their Language”

June 3, 2011

I have been out of the state for two weeks and it is good to get back to a routine and to not be living out of a suitcase!

Someone wrote somewhere that the lowest form of thinking is to think that others think like we do.  That also holds true in thinking that others like to be managed in the manner we personally prefer.  I have found this to be the case so often.  Personally I am an abstract thinker – just give me the big picture and the objective and I will figure it out.  However, whenever I am managing a concrete thinker in that manner, I end up frustrating them greatly.  They need more definition and not just a fuzzy idea.

When dealing with your team, it is important to know their “love language” and how to relate to them in a manner that is meaningful to them.  If a team member is motivated by words of affirmation, you need to be intentional about writing them notes of appreciation or going by their desk and giving them a verbal “pat on the back”.  If their “love language” is quality time, then you need to be intentional about scheduling regular times of uninterrupted conversation with them (TURN OFF your cell, e-mail and so on – they want your attention!).  Maybe they respond to gifts and there is a way to give them a gift card for a cup of coffee or a dinner out with their spouse.

I met with a very sharp leadership team a while back and it was interesting what they learned with just a few questions.  The senior leader was very wary of micromanaging but was frustrated with a leader who wasn’t being more proactive.  That subordinate leader, for his part, just assumed if the senior leader did not mention something specific, then it wasn’t important.  What the senior leader considered to be an empowering style of leadership (which is his preferred style) was actually frustrating to his subordinate leader as he needed more definitive guidance.  So with just a few questions and some discussion, they have come to a better understanding of how to work together.

The key is – you have to get to know your people and to realize that they are unique individuals that respond differently.  Learn their “love languages” and learn how they prefer to be managed.  It will be well worth your investment of time.

To learn more about the love languages click here.

Hope you have a great weekend!

BG