As an entrepreneur, you depend on the people you hire to help you grow your business. However, fostering an engaging culture where everyone feels valued can be difficult. One strategy for building more rapport, trust, and enthusiasm among your employees is to understand and apply “love languages” at work.
The notion of love languages is not new. Thirty years ago, author Gary Chapman described these five languages in The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Lasting Love. Although Chapman intended her book to be leveraged by romantic couples, her unique concept of giving and receiving affirmations can be adapted to the workplace.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to shower your workers with inappropriate affection or adoration. You will use all five languages to guide your actions to show team members that you notice and appreciate them. Since most people need to be recognized through at least one of their love languages, using all the languages as listed below will help you connect with most of your employees and colleagues.
Love Language 1: Spending quality time together
You will be pressed for time as a leader. However, don’t let a busy schedule prevent you from interacting with your direct reports. Being available gives you the opportunity to guide and mentor. For example, set up a one-to-one newsletter with key team members. These meetings provide opportunities for conversations that would otherwise never happen.
It may not be easy to rearrange your calendar to be open, but it’s worth the effort. Encourage your directors, executives and managers to do the same. Sometimes all a worker needs is a little advice or an objective sounding board to keep them happy.
Love Language 2: Giving gifts
How do you recognize employees who go the extra mile? Do you occasionally send an email? Do you often forget to say “thank you” or “great job”? Many people like to be recognized when they go above and beyond with gifts.
In our digital age, designing and purchasing symbols of appreciation such as affordable personalized trophies and awards is easy. This kind of modest investment can reap significant returns. Most recipients of a trophy or plaque will proudly display it in their work area. In other words, they will be constantly reminded that what they do has been noticed.
Love language 3: Performing acts of service
You’ve probably heard the saying that “actions speak louder than words.” It is true in an office environment. Teams often get bogged down with multiple projects that have tight deadlines. In these circumstances, you can show that you understand and empathize by picking up some slack.
Even if it’s not your responsibility to help stuff envelopes or get products out the door, it sends a huge message to everyone. A boss who is willing to get into the trenches is a boss who commands more respect. Your selfless acts of service indicate that you do not consider yourself more important and that you want your workers to avoid the burnout that is affecting too many people.
Love language 4: Affirm with words
If you need to be more generous with your words, now is the time to get better at texting and sending notes. Employees may only hear affirmative words from time to time. No need to exaggerate, but always be polite and sincere.
To go the extra mile, you should write supporting notes on sticky notes to leave with internal employees. Or, you can send personalized thank-you letters to employees along with their performance evaluations.
Love Language 5: Touch (when needed)
Physical touch is the fifth love language and should be approached with some caution. Touching co-workers can be inappropriate and unwanted. However, sometimes a physical interaction can be guaranteed.
Some ways to show appreciation physically include fist bumps, high fives, elbow bumps, and handshakes. Again, use this love language with caution and situationally.
When you’re an entrepreneur, you can expect to be pulled in multiple directions every day. Understanding and using the five love languages in the workplace can significantly improve communication and team dynamics.
You can foster a more positive and productive work environment by identifying and addressing the unique needs and preferences of each team member. Additionally, using love languages to show your team members that they are valued and appreciated can boost morale and motivation, resulting in a more cohesive and successful team.