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Friday, September 22, 2006

5 Love Languages for Business

I got into a discussion with my students this afternoon about what motivates employees and how as a manager we must figure that out if we want to be successful managers. In the middle of the discussion, this parallel came to mind and it seemed to work well so I thought I'd share it.

Remembering from Gary Chapman's book, The Five Love Languages, the languages are:
  1. Acts of Service
  2. Gifts
  3. Physical Touch
  4. Words of Affirmation
  5. Quality Time

I think the key point made in the book was to figure out yours, your spouse's, child's, or who ever else's love language you need to improve a relationship with and begin showing them love through their preferred language.

In business terms, your employees, boss and co-workers each have a love language. If you want to improve your relationship with them and / or motivate them you need to figure out their love language and begin to use it for that purpose.

Let me translate this into business terms.

Words of affirmation are easy to see the connection. Simply recognize them in groups as doing a good job, or take them aside in private and tell them you've noticed their improvement.

Gifts can be a raise, a bonus or even tickets to the game or concert. It can also be something as simple as taking them to lunch at your expense.

If you employee's love language is acts of service, show them you appreciate them by saying, "Hey, you've really been working hard, why don't you let me finish that report for you and you can go home early today." or try borrowing their car keys and going out to wash their car for them and tell them you've noticed their hard work and wanted to say thanks.

Quality time is perhaps a little more distant in the business world, because you can't say, "Honey, let's shut the TV off tonight and just talk." Works well at home, not so much at the office. What you can do is take time to mentor them. Show an interest in their work and catch them outside of the office in the elevator or at lunch and have a meaningful conversation about it. Better yet, don't talk about work, but talk about their family and how their recent vacation was.

Physical touch... let me caution you here. Many law suits have been filed over this, but I still believe it can translate into the work place. Appropriate physical touch can be a two handed hand shake or standing slightly closer to the person than you normally would. Though no physical touch occurs, which is a good thing according to the corporate attorneys, you can still give a work appropriate equivalent of it.

So, if you want to motivate your employees or get in good with your boss figure out their love language and give it a try.