Winning Words for Love at Work

Feb 16, 2019
Blog - Winning Words for Love at Work

Any good HR and Business Leader knows that high levels of Employee Engagement correlate with superior individual and business performance.  Numerous studies show this.

I would argue that the main factor that determines employee engagement is the quality of the relationship and interactions they have with their managers and leaders. The quality of these interactions will largely depend on what is said... or not said.

I have been reflecting on the following.  What should leaders and managers be positively SAYING to their employees to cultivate a higher level of love in the organisation?

Here are TEN TOP PHRASES OR QUESTIONS that I believe are key to fostering a positive work culture and high levels of engagement and performance.

1.    “THANK YOU” – Let’s not take people for granted. We all like to be thanked when we have given our time, attention and energies to do something for someone.  So often, in my experience, this vital two-word message is missing from the mix.

2.    “WELL DONE!” – Good feedback, specific and timely, can be like rocket fuel to motivation and performance.  Let us – as the classic One Minute Manager book recommends – ‘catch people doing something right’. Let employees know we appreciate and recognise their efforts. Timely and authentic words of praise may be much more powerful that occasional monetary rewards when it comes to sustained effort and results.

3.    “WHAT DO YOU THINK?” – People need to know their opinions and views matter.  It is the job of the line manager to make space for and invite the inputs of their team members.

4.    “YOU MATTER” – We are, after all, HUMAN Resources!  It is important to take time to notice and be responsive to the personal interests and concerns.  Contrary to what some might believe, employees cannot simply park ‘life outside work’ at the office or factory door.  Showing genuine care and concern for the person as a whole cultivates trust and a sense of belonging.

5.    “YOUR WORK MATTERS” – Don’t we all want to know that what we do is in some way significant? The effective leader or manager will be able to explain how the contribution of colleagues fits into the bigger picture of meeting internal or external customer needs.  People need to know that what they do is important. Tell them!

6.    “WHAT ARE YOU PROUD OF?” – As a seasoned interviewer, I have asked this question many times.  I give a candidate an opportunity to talk about their successes.  Many quiet acts of heroism may go unnoticed and unrecognised by a supervisor.  Let’s make opportunity for staff to reflect on and share the critical incidents and occasions when they felt they did a good job. Let's celebrate them together!

7.    “WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?” – Nearly everyone has aspirations, personally and professionally. If an employer is able to go some way to being part of the journey to reaching these goals, engagement will increase. Someone may share that they have an ambition to ultimately set up their own business.  Rather than stand in the way of such a goal, a wise supervisor may discuss the kind of experience, skills and expertise their team member needs to fulfil this dream.  Which leads me to the next phrase…

8.    “HOW CAN I HELP YOU PROGRESS?” – When a leader or manager shows an active interest in and commitment to my personal and professional development, this boosts my loyalty, commitment and engagement levels.  I am sure I am not alone in this and that many others react in the same way.

9.    “WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN LEARNING?” – So often we may not even realise we are growing and going further than we used to.  Making the time and the opportunity to reflect on learning in and at work helps create the awareness of progression.  This is generally intrinsically very rewarding and satisfying.  It may also be a factor in stopping someone from considering that the “grass is greener” in another organisation.

10.  “HOW MIGHT I LEAD/MANAGE YOU BETTER?” -  This is a final open and courageous question that very few of my previous bosses ever asked.  The emphasis is generally on how the individual contributor might act or behave ‘better’ to serve the agenda of the manager and the organisation.  Whilst this is also a fair point for discussion, we need to remember that it “takes two to tango” in a high-performance working relationship. 

Here’s to the “Power of Love” at work! No, not another song... please!