A quick question, if you planned to move to France and live there for the rest of your life, would you learn French? Why? You could get along without learning the language; but your ability to connect, feel comfortable, and your overall experience would be limited. Learning the language of the land opens us up to better communicate, get your needs met, and meet the needs of others easier. From a Leadership Perspective, it enhances our ability to understand and meet the needs of the people we’re leading! Keep in mind… you and everyone may like all 7 Professional Languages, however each of us has a Top 2 that impact us at our core, they will change over time, and we all have one that resonates with us the least and that may be the employee you struggle most with… be Mindful! I’m honored to speak/teach/train The 7 worldwide and how to speak it in casual conversations in the office, virtual calls, and emails… AND… how to speak it in those tough conversations we MUST be willing to have as leaders! So, what are the 7 Professional Languages Employees need, want, and benefit most hearing from leadership that allow enhanced communication, connection, influence, impact, protection, and more?
- Goodies Time!
- Quality Minutes!
- Recognition & Affirmation!
- Knowledge and/or Advancement!
Some individuals on your team will love the “Goodies” the job or team provides. Yes, I’m referring to the doughnuts and coffee in the morning, the pizza and other goodies provided for lunch, etc.! Although, this is not one of my top two languages… I must admit, I stayed at a job a few months longer than I should have because their “Goodie Time” was off the charts! Lunch was usually catered by various pharmaceutical reps and the spread was like having a gourmet dinner for lunch almost every day. I still think about it and… Wow!!!
I’m not suggesting this type of spread for your people; however, it’s important for you to know this is someone’s Language. A treat to coffee or something small can go a long way. Recognizing the hectic mornings of most people, the power of them not having to reach into their pocket to pay, and the human nature of people to socialize over a meal or drink can be priceless!
I once had a boss enter the office and announce an impromptu road trip for our small staff of four. It was a beautiful day; we walked to a café down the street and she treated us to coffee. Something so small still sticks out in my mind as we/I were able to get out of the office, do something different, enjoy the sunshine, and a cup of coffee together; conversing about nonwork-related topics… Small but BIG! Note: Many companies, teams, and you may do this regularly… be sure as the leader to partake with your people; investing socially in the experience… not just providing it!
Some of your workers, athletes, and students value YOUR time. I remember many times when the figure-head of the team I played for or company I worked for were so busy being busy that I and others became a non-entity; simply slaving away unnoticed and under-appreciated. The same coach who recruited me to play college football didn’t say another word to me in the hallways over my next five years. (Yes, I said five years, Lol!) CEOs pass you in the hallway with head and eyes down; as everyone attends to their robotic mission of doing their part for the company. ENOUGH!!!
Some of your people value their leader taking a few minutes to speak with them about other things than just the job. For example: “Hi ________, how was your weekend”, “What are your plans for your weekend?”, “What are your plans for the summer?”, “How was your evening?”, “How’s your family doing with ____________” (this assumes you care enough as a leader to know about our worker’s, student’s or player’s life and family)… are their kids into sports, dance, acting, etc.? What are the hobbies and passions of your people outside of the job?
Quality Minutes doesn’t suggest you devote an hour to each worker or individual, but simply being mindful to use the person’s name while asking unnecessary, but powerful questions will go a long way to the person who enjoys this Language. It also benefits the culture as it creates and enhances curiosity, bonding, attachment, and a sense of belonging and loyalty!
Recognition & Affirmation!
The individual who prefers this Language appreciates, is motivated by, and inspired by hearing positive things about their work and effort. Remember… leaders make statements about work and effort… not about them as a person, their style of dress, how they look, etc. These positive statements are also best made in-person, at work, or through a work email… not through your personal email or text… and especially not after work hours. This mistake can lead you and them down a path to HR (Human Resources) or worse. Be Mindful… statements of recognition and affirmation are about your people’s work, their effort, and enhancing and protecting Work/Life Harmony for you, them, and the organization!
Being an employee or on a team can be hard work! So much of what makes the organization successful is done behind the senses, not very glamourous, and pounded out in Cubicle Island, behind closed doors, over endless phone calls, and numerous corresponding emails. Recognizing an individual for their efforts and affirming their ability and dedication is not only useful but powerful to this person receiving it!
Knowledge and/or Advancement!
The individual that enjoys this Language wants to know what you know and may want to be YOU someday; meaning they want your spot, your position, your title, your success! This is the hungry new quarterback who wants to soak up all the information from the veteran quarterback they intend to replace. This is the new employee or executive that asks all those questions and is in sponge-mode, because one day your corner office will be their corner office. This person is Motivated and Inspired and needs to be fed!
In speaking with this individual it’s important to put your teacher’s hat on and be mindful to impart lessons, tips, and tricks of the trade; all the while understanding their goal and sharing the reasons why you’re teaching them what you’re teaching. The Leader’s Questions you learned earlier in this book would be of value here. “How can I best be of service to you?”, “Let me know if you need anything.”, “How do you learn best?”. In the next chapter, we’ll get into how to best motivate and have the difficult conversations!
This is my wife! She is the best employee, worker, and person I know. She is Knowledge & Advancement and Incentives. She wants to know what you know so she can advance to where she wants to be… and if there is an incentive: a bonus, a competition, something that can be earned that will increase her status at work and our financial well-being… she’s all in and cannot be stopped!
The individuals who enjoy this Language like the “Dangling Carrot” and are motivated by raises, bonuses, earned trips, and/or office competitions. So… Offer them! Every company and team has a budget… some bigger and some smaller than others. If raises and bonuses are out of the question… maybe it’s time off or gift cards for your people to use in the community with their loved ones.
I’ve found most people will accept more money, but don’t except it. The response I heard most in asking employees and athletes what they wanted from their leadership was… time away from their craft… time away to spend with the people they love. Let’s GIVE them that! The bonus is they (and their family) will remember you, the company, or the team when they are out enjoying themselves and paying for it with a gift card they earned from the organization. For example, when the waiter comes with the bill and that employee or player hands over that gift card… You, the company, or the team will graciously and positively be on their mind! Boom… enhancing Work/Life Harmony!
The Language of Flexibility is two-fold. This individual values being able to do their work in a flexible manner; allowing them the ability to move more freely (physically and idea wise). Perhaps having a flexible schedule where they can work in-office, out of office, or at home is most attractive to them. This is me… I hate boxes. This is the running joke in our home… that I hate boxes!
Or, the person would enjoy their ideas for the company or team flexibly implemented into the functioning of the organization. So many companies or teams don’t ask for ideas, some ask and don’t implement the ideas; discouraging their people from ever speaking up again. This is a dangerous and destructive road as this consistent act will eventually drain the spirit of your “Inspired & Motivated”, the “New & Unknown”, and eventually the “Steady Steams”; leaving you with the negative version of the “Here, but Not Here’s” and “Grouches”!
Note: If an individual selects Flexibility as their Language; ask for clarification… do they want to work in a flexible manner, or do they what their ideas flexibly implemented, or both? The next chapter will shed more light on how to speak this Language of Flexibility in casual times and those dreaded tough conversations. Of course, there are limitations to flexibility in every organization and not everyone can handle flexibility, but where there can be flexibility… can it be?
Respect is one of my top two languages. At this stage of my life, I’m Flexibility and Respect. I say at this stage of my life… because our Languages change as who we are, where we are in life, and what we want out of life changes. Therefore, it’s important to add this to your interview and evaluation process; then ask again every year! When I developed these Languages; I thought everyone would pick one language and Respect. To my surprise, that was not the case… it was just the case for me!
However, Respect turned out to be the BIGGEST Language. What I mean is, people provided the widest array of examples for what respect looked like and felt like. This makes sense as organizations or teams are made up of unique personalities with various pasts, present experiences, and cultures. Here’s the List of how workers and teams stated they wanted to be respected (Of course I added a few of my own!):
Do I have the proper tools in order to be successful?
Tone of voice
Ask don’t demand… as the boss or leader, the badge of authority is easy to hold up as a last resort. Ask the people following your lead to do a task first.
Speak at a person’s physical level; not standing directly over them giving orders; making them feel small, insignificant, and powerless.
When giving hard-to-hear feedback be mindful of your seat/standing position in the room. Do not stand directly in front of the person and inadvertently block a doorway (allowing them to exit quickly if they feel it necessary); making the person feel small, threatened, and trapped. Rather, be sure THEIR is back to the doorway, you are at a 45-degree angle, and either both of you are sitting or standing… or you are sitting (preferably not behind your desk). Everyone knows you’re the boss… we don’t have to continuously prove it! It says a lot to the person and about you as a leader when we can remove ourselves from the throne to meet another person where they are. A King or Queen is still King or Queen whether their butt is physically sitting on the throne or not!
Emails – This is huge. I know… as a Leader, you’re inundated ALL DAY with emails! Who has time to write a respectful email and send it at the appropriate times? If you’re reading this book and reading it to evolve…. YOU DO! It amazes and appalls me how managers, supervisors, and directors send short, snippy, cutting, and sometimes even short-handed coded emails to their people and then expect their people’s best work, effort, and loyalty. Could you be short, sharp, rude, and have no time to begin and end your statement with a pleasantry to your spouse, friend, or kids and expect great things to happen or a great relationship? So, why would you do this to your people and Dreamleaders… and if your answer is because you pay them or something to that effect… either you won’t be paying them for long or you’ll turn your great employees into drones and your bad employees into the majority in your organization; instead of the minority.
Tip: Start your emails with a positive: “Hi ______, I hope all is well…” “Hi ________ Happy Wednesday, ….” (this is my favorite!). Try ending with… “Thank You and enjoy your day” or “I look forward to hearing from you”. These can be Copy & Pasted” or even saved into your signature. Get creative… more importantly, get positive and make it your own!
In the Language of “Respect”, emails are best sent during the workday or working hours! As a former business owner and now “Solo-Preneur”, I know the grind of waking early or staying up late to get things done, crossing things off the list, sharing ideas, and proposals with others. However, 2:00am is not the time for that email… for two reasons.
Anxiety is on the rise as a crippling epidemic; especially with our younger generation. When their phone rings, dings, chimes or whatever… it can create pressure to respond. The mere sound of the ding; may signify work infringing on their Work/Life Harmony and introducing (however subtle) anxiety and stress. Second, we have no idea of the issues our people are living with regarding their intimate relationships. Do you really want to be the “Ding” or email/text notification your people are arguing about at 2:00am; all because you couldn’t wait?
Manners are Timeless – This is self-explanatory… remember your “Pleases and Thank You’s”. Do you remember the last time someone didn’t say “Please” or “Thank You” to you? We don’t want our people feeling that way about us!
Body Language – What we say is important… Even more so is how we say it and what we look like before, during, and after we say it! I once had a boss that looked so miserable walking into work; greeting everyone with a drained sigh. He looked drained, unhappy about life in and outside of work, and stressed regarding the “Get-To’s” of his position; making it undesirable and draining for staff to come in and give it their all or wanting to advance in the company. If that’s what moving up in the company looks like and does to you… and what upper management allows… No Thank You!
The basics of body language cannot be ignored: looking at the person when speaking to them, arms at your side and not crossed or on your hips, and remembering to show that awesome smile of yours!
Loyalty is a Two-Way Street – I wrote about this in my book, “7 Ways to Love”; most leaders that cry their people aren’t loyal, typically haven’t created an environment worth staying loyal to! Be mindful of the “Whys”, needs, and languages of your people and good things tend to happen. We no longer live in a generation where people stay at the same place for 30-40 years. It has to be OK that people leave! How they leave, what they think when they leave, and what they say when they leave is what matters; as the organization or team can be heavily impacted by the “New & Unknowns” they refer back!
The Red Folder – This is the final stroke of how to earn your title as leader. Can your people come to you with news that is hard for YOU to hear; explaining in-house problems and deficiencies… some of which may be about YOU or your decisions or inaction? Can they trust you will hear them out with an inquisitive mindset and diligence to improve? If the answer is “Yes”, great! If not… it’s pride-swallowing time; as it’s important not to let your evolution as a leader elevate your ego!
There are your Leader’s 7! Remember, as leaders… we need to be able to speak all seven, but each of your people have a top one or two. Now that you know what the 7 are… it’s important to know what you are… as well as what you’re not!
As I mentioned earlier, I’m Flexibility and Respect. I want to be able to work in a flexible manner, implement my ideas, and am huge on giving respect and being in respectful relationships. However, I wasn’t always Flexibility and Respect. Early in my career, I was Knowledge & Advancement and Respect; wanting to know what my bosses knew … so one day I could be them.
Knowing which Language YOU are is important as it will identify who you will bond most easily with and deem most valuable on your team. If you’re Incentives… you will gravitate to and enjoy the people who are motivated by that, earn the incentives, and win the competitions. It’s human nature… however, it’s also easy to discount the efforts of Employees that prefer a different language; making them feel unnoticed and less important.
When I was young, I remember getting all A’s on my report card. I was so proud… I brought the report card home to my mom and asked, “Can I get something for getting all A’s”. I forget what I asked for; therefore, it couldn’t have been that important. I remember my mom retorting, “I don’t give you money to do what you’re supposed to do”. It sounds harsh, but knowing my mom, it wasn’t said in a demeaning way to hurt me, break my spirit, or diminish my efforts. It was simply her stance on rewards. Incentives was not one of her top two languages! Perhaps that’s why the concept of “Incentives” is a Language that resonates the least with me. Even when I was a Mental Health Therapist, Rewards as a useful intervention was always a last thought or even a last resort; as it wasn’t on my mind and it took intentional effort to recognize it as a strategic option.
I share this story to ask you… of The Leader’s 7, which are your Top 2? Which two resonate with you the least… not that you don’t like, understand, or appreciate their value… but simply resonate the least with you?
- Goodies Time
- Quality Minutes
- Recognition & Affirmation
- Knowledge & Advancement
The two you resonate least with will tend to be the people you struggle most to enjoy, resonate with the least, or… at the minimum encourage the least! But now you won’t have to guess what language your people speak… you’ll know, be proactive, and be prepared! Want the Leader’s 7 Blueprint for your organization? Email email@example.com