Thursday, July 5, 2012

MEAN What You Say

One of the biggest complaints we hear from employees is that managers say things but never mean them; it's like parents who tell their children they're going to do something and then bail at the last minute because they're too busy or just forgot.  But what does "MEAN" mean?  Does it mean the same thing?  Yes and no.


"MEAN," in this context, isn't really a word but rather an acronym for things you need in order to build, strengthen and motivate your team.  Everyone will be drawn to a well-run team and run away from a poorly-run team, so let's see how MEAN can help draw and build your team.


1.  M = Mouth


How often do you talk to your team members?  Really look at how you communicate; is it solely to discipline or is there actual conversation?  It's easy to hide behind email and the telephone; you don't have to get involved in a lengthy conversation and actually get to know the other person, right?  


The best leaders talk.  They talk to each member of their team.  They find out about them.  They give commendation more than criticism or counsel.    They share successes with the whole team, even if it's the fact that Sally stopped smoking three days ago and hasn't gone back, or that Jimmy's daughter just started walking.


2.  E = Educate


Educate both yourself and your team members on various aspects of the job but also give each team member the opportunity to grow.  By educating yourself on how to be a better leader, educating your team members on how to be better employees and educating yourself and others on each individual person, you're building a stronger team, one less likely to be torn apart by the winds of changes in business.


3.  A = Attitude


Study body language, both your own and that of your team members.  If someone walks into the office slumped over, avoiding everyone and generally being quite, chances are there's an issue going on.  You don't need to be a shrink to help; sometimes, just a pat on the shoulder, a wink or knowing smile can do the trick. 


What about your attitude?  What does your facial expression and body language tell your team members about you?  If they're not coming toward you, you may be pushing them away without a word ... think about it.


4.  N = Name


Do you know the names of each person on your team?  Do you use it?  Without realizing it, it's easy to go days without using someone's name.  We pass by, nod our heads and say, "Hey," but do we really make an effort to use someone's name?  Think about how it makes you feel when someone uses your name, especially if it's to commend you for something - it can make your day.  Now think about the newest, lowest member of your team; you can lift them up, motivate them and bring them closer to the team and the company, simply by using their name on a regular basis.  Your team is looking to you for leadership - shouldn't you know their names?


The bottom line - in order to build a strong team, one that sticks together through the ups and downs of business, you have to say what you mean and MEAN what you say.