Employees that feel appreciated are more willing to work together, support you and stick out the tough times versus slipping into resentment and irritation.

It’s 5:05pm and you’ve been rushing to get a document done for a very important client that is overdue and the client has already called 3 times looking for the ETA.  You finally finish, after laboring for hours, and rush down the hall to your assistant’s office to ask her to print it off and overnight it.

The office is dark…the computer is off…she has left for the day.  You didn’t realize it was past 5pm.  Not to be deterred you venture into the supply closet to find an overnight envelope and can’t find either.  You have no idea what your online log in is and end up driving to an overnight drop off location that is still open which results in your being late to your daughter’s dance recital…frustrated and stressed you are rehearsing the “talk” you are going to have with your assistant about leaving without checking in to make sure you don’t need anything else at the end of the day.  You aren’t asking her to stay late.  But if she just would have let you know she was leaving you could have asked her for the information to overnight the document and saved yourself all the pain.

In the morning, you walk in; shoulders set to let your assistant know what happened.  You walk in to her office and start with “we need to talk…”  She bursts into tears and says she can’t believe you could think she isn’t supportive of you after all the lunches she has worked through and times she has stayed late and that you never point out anything she does well…and only point out the mistakes.

You feel unappreciated…she feels unappreciated…what now?

We read a fascinating book a few years ago, “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. When sharing this blog with a colleague, she informed us Gary released another book titled “The 5 Love Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” which is now on the top of our must read list.  Without reading Gary’s take on this topic, we believe that there are also 5 OFFICE love languages and the importance of understanding each others.  Love, in this context means each person shows up at work most days with an authentic sense of empowerment, appreciation, connection and could honestly say “I truly love this place and the people I work with!” 

The premise of “The 5 Love Languages” is that there are 5 ways that people communicate love.  And that most ‘relationship problems’ are simply because the people involved are speaking two different love languages and not recognizing the language of the other.  So, both are trying so hard to show love and both are feeling unappreciated and unheard.  The book outlines when you speak to someone IN their love language, they become happy, secure and fulfilled in their relationship with you and a lot of frustrations and resentments go away.  They are willing to face problems head on without wrapping them in sheets of drama and emotion which allows them to support you because they are confident in their relationship with you. 

The 5 languages are: 
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Gift Giver
3. Acts of Service
4. Quality Time
5. Physical Touch  **Note, for the office we’d replace this with eye contact, not checking your iPHone and email while they are speaking and actually put whatever you are working on aside and lean in forward with general interest and presence.

We believe that the 5 Love Languages can solve many office ‘relationship’ problems such as the often too real example shared above.  In this example, I’d venture to say the assistant’s language is Words of Affirmation and the boss is Acts of Service.  If the boss routinely verbally affirms his assistant when she does good work she will feel confident in their relationship and that he values her as part of the team.  If the assistant routinely supports the boss with the things he asks, like checking in before she leaves, so he isn’t left to blunder through an unfamiliar task alone, he will feel appreciated by his team for how hard he works too. 

The disengagement in Office Love Languages is often the very reason certain incentive programs or perks do not seem to get the response the entrepreneur anticipates.  If you have a team member who feels you never listen, never make time for his or her questions and never stop to train them how you would like certain things done and their language is Quality Time – they need these things to feel appreciated and confident (which we will be so bold to say is 95% of your support team’s Office Love Language). If you are bonusing a team member with money but their love language is Words of Affirmation, they may not be that responsive to the bonus set out. And if they are, it will have a short shelf life because their “Love Language” is not being fulfilled. 

The more you speak your team’s Office Love Language and let them know what makes you feel appreciated, the more willing you all are to work together, support each other and stick together versus slipping into resentment and irritation

A team member who feels appreciated and “loves” their job and the people they work with is the team member that will stick with you in good times and tough times.

To help identify your Office Love Language, have each person on your team list out 5 things you did for them that really made them feel appreciated and respected.  And you do the same!  Your Office Love Language needs to be met too.  From that, you can see the things that resonates with each person and which Office Love Language speaks to them!

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Champions of your continued success,

Molly and Laney