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Do You Know Your Employee’s Engagement Language?

Written by: | Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Back in 1992, Gary Chapman wrote The 5 Love Languages, a book that wonderfully and easily shared that we all feel loved in primarily one of 5 ways. Knowing our love language and the love language of the important people in our lives helps us better understand how to share what we need and how to better understand what others need from us. This awareness has changed countless relationships.

This had me thinking about the employee-manager relationship. We know that this is the critical performance relationship in any organization – the need for employees and managers to connect. Based on results from the Gallup Organization, we see that nearly 70% of employees are disengaged in the workplace, and a large part of this has to do with an ineffective relationship between managers and employees. In fact, the Gallup shares that one in two employees who leave an organization, leave because of their manager.

What if we could identify the engagement language that an employee needs so that a manager could get it right more often? Knowing that we are all different and unique, why would we think that any kind of one-size-fits-all approach to connection, engagement and to making employees feel valuable would be effective?

Here are my suggestions for four employee engagement languages.

Words of appreciation – some employees look for the compliment and supportive applause; it activates their inner higher performer. There is a chronic shortage of praise in the workplace. This isn’t about artificial praise; it is praise for work well done. When an employee who thrives on being noticed for his or her hard work and contribution receives words of appreciation, it creates a great sense of personal value. Who on your team needs this?

Personal time – some employees like and need the one-on-one time with a manager. They feel valuable and important when the manager intentionally makes time to teach, guide or support in a personal way. Though all employees should have time with a manager, some employees are more actively engaged by personalized attention and time. Who on your time needs this?

Awards and gifts – some employees are more competitive than others and find trophies, awards or gifts more engaging. These then become tangible representations of effort, validation and applause that encourage and drive engagement. Who on your team needs this?

Development opportunities – some employees crave doing more, having more responsibilities, being in charge and having a larger influence. New and challenging activities, tasks and responsibilities activate them and are engaged by being selected for new and additional tasks. Who on your team needs this?

Our greatest impact, influence and connection with our employees can happen only when we take the time to really know them; we each should have a process of discovering our employees’ talents, values, interests, skills and unique abilities. Additionally, we should learn to speak their engagement language – the things we can do for them that activate their greater engagement and effort.  How would you feel if your manager knew how to say or do the right thing to engage you more? What would it do for your performance, contribution and loyalty?

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