One Saturday afternoon I was washing dishes in our kitchen. Our lawn mower stopped working a few days prior, and my husband was in the garage diligently tinkering with the machine.
A brief side note…
My husband, in terms of instinctual talents, is referred to as an “insistent implementor.” That means he actually likes when something breaks around the house, because he naturally engages in hands-on, fix-it type tasks.
Then there is me. If I attempt to fix a leaky faucet – and I wouldn’t do so without coercion – I end up creating an in-house river. In instinctual terms, I am a “resistant implementor.” My talent lies in visualizing solutions…not in actually building them.
So I was scrubbing a pot when my husband treaded up the basement stairs to announce, “Honey! I fixed the lawn mower!” With that mere statement, my implementor needs were met. I got it. The lawn mower now works. Great! For me, the communication process was successful…another item taken off the checklist for the day. Time to move on.
My back was turned, but I could sense that he was still standing at the top of the stairs. I turned around to find my husband motioning for me to follow him downstairs. I knew what was coming next. Though instinctually unnecessary for me, he needed to physically show me his work. Mere verbal communication did not satisfy his innate need to demonstrate the solution. So I pulled off my dishwashing gloves and followed him into the garage. I tried very hard to seem interested as he pulled off the cap to the mower engine and pointed to his fixes.
Clearly, my husband and I are wired very differently. And that hardwiring determines how we communicate. I talk about ideas without ever touching an object or building a model. My husband, on the other hand, must have a visual tool, a concrete demonstration of his thoughts. When we work independently, we draw on our own instincts. But when we work together, we must be tolerant of each other’s method. Over time, I learned to give him what he needs to feel successful, and vice versa. As in my story above, I didn’t need to have a visual explanation of the fixed lawn mower, but my husband did. So participating in his 3-minute demonstration was well worth it.
Though marriage is not a business, many of the principles that apply to your marriage also apply to your relationship with employees. Are you giving others what they need to be successful? Do you recognize that your employees may have a different method for communicating and solving problems? Do you automatically move on when your needs are met, regardless of whether or not your team’s needs are met?
Oftentimes, it takes an act as small as walking down the basement stairs to view a fixed lawn mower to boost team morale and give others what they need to be successful.