A few years ago I was introduced to a book called ‘The 5 Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman, a US-based marriage counsellor.
Over his years of counselling, Chapman discovered that, essentially, what people in struggling relationships felt they were lacking from their partners fell into five categories, and that individuals valued each language differently. The higher-rated categories are that person’s primary ‘love languages’.
As managers, especially in an in-office environment, we spend more waking hours with our team members than their friends, family and, significantly, partners. So, knowing their ‘love language’ can help us to keep them engaged, motivated, and bought into our vision as the leader of the team.
Words of Affirmation
How do they respond to compliments or praise? Do they cheer on their colleagues for doing a great job, or provide positive comments? Make sure you give them plenty of verbal encouragement, in public and private, and praise for a job well done. On the other hand, think carefully before you deliver anything that may be construed as criticism
Do they look forward to 1:1s or reviews, and come with a list? Maybe they’ve asked to join you for lunch before? Do they offer their time to their colleagues? These people value time alone with you, most importantly with your full attention. If you have scheduled time with them, try to avoid rearranging it as much as you can.
Are they the person talking about Secret Santa in August, or the one who arranges the collection for a teammate’s birthday? They will respond to tokens of appreciation from you. If this person does something great, a token of appreciation will go a very long way.
Acts of Service
Are they usually the first to offer to do something for others? Then this is probably their love language, and is an easy one to fulfill. The acts of service don’t need to be big, either. If you see they are on a long call, for instance, make them a tea or coffee.
A tricky one! Is your team member touchy-feely with those they trust, are they a ‘huggy’ person? Now, as a manager, I wouldn’t advise unsolicited touch, but a well-timed handshake (after using sanitiser of course) for a job well done, or a fist-bump/high-five perhaps.
If you want to know more, check out Chapman’s book, but hopefully this has given you a new way of looking at your relationships with your team members and how to build their trust, engagement and motivation.