Forum: Showing love to employees makes bosses better leaders

The article "Boss, the money is good, but we want love" (Oct 18) touched on the trend of pandemic-battered workers who are considering quitting in record numbers and how bosses are not getting why this is happening.

Gen X leaders may not see the need, or know how, to express "love" to team members. They were bought up by baby boomer parents through a tough-love parenting style. Their parents may have been authoritarian, but there were good intentions behind the strict upbringing.

Gen X leaders may emulate the command-and-control leadership style of their baby boomer leaders. They may think that this is an effective leadership style as it had toughened them up, allowing them to rise from team member to leader.

The working relationship Gen X leaders have with their employees may be transactional in nature. Gen X leaders focus on goals, tasks, deadlines and results. Some may even lament that employees should be grateful that they have a job and should not expect the leaders to provide tender loving care.

The book The Five Languages Of Appreciation At Work by Paul White and Gary Chapman provides some useful information on showing "love". The following points are particularly pertinent:

  • Words of affirmation: Say or write specific words of praise and encouragement to the team members.
  • Quality time: Practise empathetic listening and understand team members' mental well-being and work challenges.
  • Acts of service: Help them to overcome their work challenges.
  • Tangible gifts: Give the team member a personalised gift which he will value, such as a care pack.

Leaders can use these modes of appreciation to enhance the mental and emotional well-being of team members, which is critical now given work-from-home practices.

Rather than persuading team members to stay when they resign, and finding out the reasons behind the resignations during the exit interview, leaders can be proactive by conducting "stay interviews" - this means scheduling timely and regular check-in conversations, not just at annual reviews, with team members.

A leader should not be detached and clueless about his team's level of engagement and motivation while they work from home.

By enhancing one's leadership style through the languages of appreciation at work, a leader can still achieve the company's goals, tasks and results with his team members.

Jasmine Liew Chia Wei

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