I had a gal on my staff a few years ago who was a hugger. She hugged me when I hired her. She hugged me when I changed her position from seasonal to permanent. She hugged me when I encouraged her to pursue her dream job. She hugged me when that didn’t work out and she came back to work for me.
I had no problem hugging her back.
In today’s #metoo world that might not be such a safe position. Hugging your staff, especially your female staff if you are a male boss, is probably a no-no.
But I had no problem hugging her back because to her, the hug validated her and made her feel appreciated. (Plus, if I were to need a defense, she did initiate the hug.)
Each person on my team had a different way of feeling appreciated.
Some needed words of encouragement. I would heap praise on them whenever I could. I knew a kind, affirming word here and there would rock their world, and they would, in turn, rock the customers’ worlds.
A couple of my staff members needed a little “token” of appreciation. I’d pass along a freebie or two their way, knowing that it was as equally powerful as the hug was to my hugger in terms of making them feel appreciated.
One person in particular just needed my time. This person needed me to just listen, just be there. My ear was her way of feeling appreciated.
Those of you who are familiar with Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages probably have already recognized what I’m talking about. In this book Chapman claims that there are five different ways we show and receive love:
- Physical Contact
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
He calls them our Love Languages. Each of us has a primary language we receive love and a primary language we show love (sometimes the same language, but not always). Knowing the language of my staff made it easier for me to show them Appreciation (love) in a way they would best receive it.
The purpose of the book is to help couples understand how to show love to each other. If you show love in a different language than your partner, if you don’t learn to speak his or her language, he or she might never feel the love you actually have.
As a boss, however, it also helps you learn how to show Appreciation.
According to Daniel H. Pink in his book Drive, what motivates your staff is Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. But what creates loyalty and happiness and job satisfaction is Appreciation. We all have a basic need to feel loved and appreciated.
If you manage people and haven’t read those two books, I know what Santa needs to get you for Christmas.
PS Yes, some of my staff received Appreciation through Acts of Service. Fortunately for me, that was how I best showed love, so it was easy to appreciate those members of the team. Knowing that, you now know why I write this blog and give away so much on the Free Resources page. It is my way of showing love.
PPS No, I wouldn’t use The 5 Love Languages for hiring purposes. While it would seem that having a team that all spoke Acts of Service would be a good thing, remember that your customers speak all five of the languages. It is good to have a team fluent in several languages.