Communicating with Currency

As a Leader, knowing how to communicate with your employees is crucial. Part of that is knowing the currency by which the employee is motivated.

By now, you’re aware of or have possibly even read the book “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. The book describes the languages we use to communicate love to our partner and how we want (or need) to have love communicated to us. The five languages are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. The book (along with live, interactive events) helps couples understand what their partner’s love language is so that they can express love in a language that their partner can understand.

World-renowned motivational coach Tony Robbins describes the six basic human needs that we all crave. One of the most important of the needs is a feeling of significance; a feeling that we’re not only special but recognized and appreciated. By understanding and choosing your partner’s love language you can express their significance in the way they need to experience it and know that the message was received.

So, what does that have to do with leadership?

Everyone – including our employees – has their own language; the way that they want to be notified that they are doing a good job, that their efforts are noticed and appreciated. In leadership, we call this language “currency.” Everyone has their own currency with which they want to get rewarded.

Everyone thinks that money is the biggest motivator and, certainly, money helps. But there are other forms of reward that carry a lot of weight with employees.

For some people, their currency of choice is public recognition. If you want them to know how highly valued they are on your team, stand them up in front of their peers and lavish them with praise. Other employees might be just as happy with private recognition; the subtle pat on the back, the quiet nod from the boss, or the “Good job” sticky-note – handwritten by the boss – delivered in private.

Many employees like to decorate their cubicles or offices with awards and citations. This is a lasting reminder – and a very public display to peers and colleagues – that this individual is a contributor, an achiever, and is recognized for their efforts.

Some people would eschew monetary rewards and placards for extra time off, a special day in recognition of their hard work that they could use to reconnect with family or loved ones. The time off could also be a trip to a trade show, convention, or special training.

Everyone has their currency, their language that expresses in their specific terms that they are appreciated, valued, and acknowledges their contributions to the company. As leaders, it’s important that we learn what currency is important our employees and colleagues and then use that currency when we reward or recognize them for a job well-done.

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