This past week, my assistant’s children spent a day at FLCC doing virtual school because of construction underway at their home. At one point during the day, I looked out from my office to see her little girl in the hall vying for her mother’s attention. When Mila asked what she needed, Victoria smiled and replied “nothing, I just wanted to give you a kiss”. My heart melted as I remembered those days when my girls were small and those moments of random love-bombs. Those memories from their youth still fill the chambers of my heart today.
The first month of this year has now passed, and we are ushering in the month “designated for love”. Acknowledging and responding to ‘touch points’ with children in our care comes fairly naturally to most people. Acknowledging and responding to touch points with our associates in an office setting does not.
In his book The 5 Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman outlines five distinct words that demonstrate love. Four of the five easily carry into the workplace, with the fifth abated by compliance and exasperated by the pandemic to not even include a handshake nowadays. Affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, and quality time are the four to focus on to elevate relationships in the workplace. Just as our loved ones outside of work need reassurance and acknowledgment, the people we interact with in the workplace do as well. Offering quality time to discuss their need for affirmation, acts of service, and expectations for workplace gratuities requires intentional ‘touch points’ for mutual understanding and agreement.
Time prescheduled and set aside for one-to-one interaction between employer and employee for 30-60 minutes per week allows both to address personal and professional matters they might not otherwise be aware of. It also builds the relationship by opening lines of communication separate from the hectic day to day work environment, much as couples do date nights away from the house, office, and children. Studies prove some of the best marriages attribute the success to regularly scheduled date nights.
Each week, even though Career Matchmakers and I communicate all day long via phone, computer and in person, my 30+/- minute weekly sit down covers specific questions, such as:
- How are you doing as a person?
- What challenges are you having?
- Are you waiting for something back from me or others?
- What updates do you have for me?
- What successes or challenges are your candidates having you want to share?
- What can you use coaching/training on?
I can’t tell you how often we go through a full work week, only for me to sit down with one of my employees to find out something else was going on, either personally or professionally.
Last week when I had my one-to-one sit down with one of my exemplary employees, she took time to share with me their aspirations to take on more responsibility. We had not been able to do her formal annual review and had been hoping to address it then. The weekly sit-down gave me the opportunity to thank her for making me aware and to confirm my interest in getting her there and what had to happen within the business to support the shift in their responsibilities. It also enlightened me to the fact we did not have her review on the calendar.
Some weeks, the 30 minutes are crammed into 15, and sometimes we are fortunate to get extra time due to a more relaxed schedule. The goal is to keep the commitment weekly, show up, and offer the opportunity for a discussion topic to arise. Sometimes you will learn something that needs additional time scheduled to address appropriately at a later date.
As an employer, I also try to show random acts of acknowledgment like Victoria demonstrated with her mother. Especially to those for whom words of affirmation are their love language.
Time can spell love in the workplace. Are you intentionally giving it to those around you?