Relationships Love Language ~ Your Supervisor Really Isn't the One Who Wants to Support You ~ Guest Post: Dr. Paul White, co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace
Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People
Authors Gary D. Chapman and Paul White
A collage of clips from the Appreciation at Work™ training DVD. We hope you find them insightful and helpful as you seek to show appreciation at work.
Your Supervisor Really Isn't the One Who Wants to Support You
Back in the early stages of developing our materials for The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace we were focused on managers and supervisory relationships, to the point that our initial "working title" of our inventory was the Managing by Appreciation Inventory (as opposed to the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory). But as we talked to friends, colleagues and clients in the world of work, the feedback they gave to us led us to conclude that focusing on managers and managerial-based relationships was too narrow - partly because many leaders and supervisors do not view themselves as managers (and thus, don't identify with the term.) Additionally, the phrase "Managing By Appreciation" felt controlling or manipulative to some, whereas motivating by appreciation had a less pejorative feel to it.
So we have proceeded to use the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory and model as we have worked with businesses, organizations, leaders and teams across the country. Our work has been well received and is growing in scope and impact (for example, medical practices, large corporations, government agencies, public schools, universities, manufacturing firms, insurance agencies, the military.)
But we also have been getting some interesting feedback as we listen to those with whom we work. One repeated message we are hearing is:
Supervisors are not necessarily the individuals most concerned about supporting and encouraging those with whom they work.
While we don't want to disparage managers, employers, supervisors or team leaders; as a group, they often are not the ones who communicate the most excitement in finding out their colleagues' preferred languages of appreciation and the specific actions that will "hit the mark" in communicating encouragement.
Colleagues are the individuals who seem to be most excited to learn how to support their peers. Team members repeatedly tell us statements like: "I really want to learn how to support my colleagues - I want to know how to encourage them when they are having a bad day." While no one has ever communicated that they don't want to receive authentic appreciation from their supervisor, many workers seem to understand that their supervisor may not be able to provide all the support that team members need.
In fact, we are finding that the work groups who are most successful in creating a positive work environment among their colleagues are the ones where the manager understands and works to implement the principle of mutual appreciation and encouragement. Not only does the manager accept the responsibility for communicating meaningful appreciation to her or his supervisees, but the manager also actively supports their team members in utilizing the 5 languages of appreciation and the results from the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory to encourage one another. When this happens, a "positive snowball effect" beings to emerge, and the individuals within this work group really begin to enjoy working together.
Why might this be?
In reflecting on this dynamic, the desire colleagues have to show appreciation to one another makes sense on a number of levels:
- Peers know from personal experience the stress and demands their colleagues have to deal with on a daily basis.
- In many settings, there is far more interaction & communication among colleagues than between employees & their supervisors.
- Because of their proximity, co-workers may sense discouragement and the need for appreciation more quickly than supervisors do.
- While appreciation & encouragement from one's supervisor may be more desired and impactful, support and encouragement from peers may be a more realistic expectation on a day to day basis.
Implications for Action
The implications from this unexpected finding are significant and exciting.
- First, this feedback indicates that individuals at any level within an organization have the opportunity to have a significant impact by showing appreciation and encouragement to those with whom they work. The task and communication is not solely in the domain of those who supervise others.
- Secondly, the conclusion for supervisors is critical: trying to take on the sole responsibility to communicate appreciation to those whom you supervise will not be as effective as teaching them how to encourage one another. A manager can't do it all by themselves, but they can lead and educate their staff in a way that mutual encouragement becomes part of the normal communication pattern among the team.
- Finally, supervisors and managers need to provide the resources needed for colleagues to know how to effectively encourage their co-workers in the ways that are uniquely meaningful to each person. The gap between good intentions and effective implementation may seem small, but in reality the chasm is more like the Grand Canyon. If you are a leader or supervisor pursue getting the resources that will help your team effectively apply the concepts of communicating authentic meaningful appreciation to one another.
Find out more about these resources at appreciationatwork.com.
Dr. Paul White, co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace
The Five Love Languages Profile will give you a thorough analysis of your emotional communication preference. It will single out your primary love language, what it means, and how you can use it to connect with your loved one with intimacy and fulfillment.
There are five love languages:
1. Words of Affirmation
3. Acts of Service
4. Quality Time
5. Physical Touch
Love Languages Personal Profile @ http://www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/personal-profiles/?profiletype=wives
Live Stream Saturday Mornings
MBN Radio Live Stream
Building Relationships Radio
Eastern Time Live Stream Saturday Mornings
11:00 a.m. Eastern Time Live Stream
Five Love Language Feed
A Love Language Minute