Leadership is a tough game to play. You must be able to show you care, without becoming a rude micro-manager. When polled, employees say they’d prefer to receive negative feedback over no feedback at all. Showing that you value their work is important.
When I first began leading a team, I struggled to make sure they knew that I cared about them and the work they turned in. I would constantly fret, “Jayson, how do you show you care in a way that they’ll understand?” What I found working for one employee, seemed to have the opposite effect on another. This went on until I read The Noticer by Andy Andrews.
To show you care about your employees you must think about your employees. You must be able to speak to each on his or her own terms. While Americans and Scots both speak English, our dialects make it hard for us to communicate. The same is true when trying to show you care about your employees.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to figure out each person’s dialect so you can communicate in a way they’ll understand. In Andy Andrew’s The Noticer, the beloved character Jones uses animals to help us better understand these dialects.
Cat – Cats show affection through touch. When a cat says, “I love you”, he does it by rubbing up against your leg. To show you care to a cat, you must use touch. A hug, a pat on the back or shoulder, a high five, even an elbow nudge or hair tousle will work to show you care about a cat.
Dog – Dogs love positive encouragement. When you say, “that’s a good boy” to a dog, his whole body wags. When you train them, you do so using praise. To show you care about a dog, use good positive praise. “Good job”, “at-a-boy”, “way to go”, or even an “I’m proud of you” will go a long way with a dog. But be careful, the same is true about negative speech. One bad word and you can destroy a dog’s drive.
Canary – A canary doesn’t care who feeds it, how you talk to it, what you say to it. A canary only wants your attention. They just want you to sit there and listen to their beautiful song. If you lead a canary, show you care by stopping by their office often, keep them included in activities, and always be there to listen to them.
Fish – A fish doesn’t care if you’re watching them. They certainly don’t want you touching them. I’m not sure they can even hear you through that thick glass. All a fish wants is for you to feed them, clean their bowl, and straighten their castle. To show you care about a fish, do favors for them and tend to their needs.
How do you know which animal your employees are? This is a difficult thing to figure out. The truth is, while we all lean to one or the other, we also share similar qualities of each. Incorporate a comprehensive approach and implement it.
After a few weeks, you’ll start to see who is responding to what. This is when you’ll know how to show you care in such a way that each person will understand your dialect.
What type of person are you? I’m definitely a dog!