At CultivatePeople, we have a unique point of view of both human resources (HR) and finance departments. We see our clients working together to budget compensation, and the inevitable head-butting can create a dynamic that strains those relationships. This is where Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages comes in to play. It can be adapted into every kind of relationship, with HR and finance being no exception. The language types are: physical touch, quality time, gift giving, words of affirmation, and acts of service. With HR and finance departments handling the most precious assets in the company (people and money), it’s important for leaders in HR and finance to build social equity, being conscious about creating a high levels of respect with peers. The love languages are not limited to HR and finance. Marketing and sales departments also have a symbiotic relationship. They need each other to thrive, but can often get frustrated with one another. With the mindset that there is always room for improvement, even small efforts can create healthy and happy boundaries that cultivate success. Here are ways companies can establish good relationships between departments using the Five Love Languages method.
Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation, or words of encouragement. This one is simple: everyone loves being acknowledged. Something as easy as a thank you note or a shout out on a Slack channel could be a small gesture that goes a long way. A great tool our team at CultivatePeople uses is Bonus.ly. Bonusly self describe themselves as a “fun, personal employee recognition and rewards program.” There are many similar resources available! It’s safe to assume everyone loves recognition.
Acts of Service
Acts of service is easiest if you keep it work related. You could go above and beyond by offering to help your co-worker move to a new house or apartment, but we can’t blame you if you don’t. If your colleague does a great job, describe the work they do by nomination for either an internal or a public award. Regardless of outcome, taking the steps of putting your words into action through public recognition become amplified, bold, CAPITAL words. For those whose love language is acts of service, the boldness matters!
Gift giving is like acts of service, but on steroids. To be clear, it doesn’t mean bribing, it’s more like sharing. Sharing insights, like a podcast or an article, a photo of your dog, or a few of the 1,000 cherry tomatoes your garden grew this year…It doesn’t have to strictly be work related where both departments overlap. CultivatePeople’s CEO and founder, Lola Han, does a great job with this. She shares her favorite podcasts with new employees before they start. It gives insight to her interests deeper than the work structure. Beyond intangibles, we all know whoever brings in homemade cookies or even leftover birthday cake is always the office hero. “There’s cronuts in the kitchen, Debbie brought them in.” #OfficeHero
Spending quality time together goes beyond working together to budget compensation. Quality time means having consistent and meaningful face-time between departments. If you’re already having periodic meetings, changing the scenery can be beneficial. In the movie Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams’ character shakes up the structure of the classroom with this tactic, and creates an undeniable bond between the students. A change of space can transform your time together into quality time together. Meeting outside if it’s a nice day or, if you have surrounding office spaces, try growing a network with other offices to change scenery every once in a while. In DC, where we’re located, the Portrait Museum has a beautiful and relaxing courtyard that could be utilized if department leaders want to meet up. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Physical touch is tricky but important. Please, and I cannot stress this enough, do not be weird. Fact is, people are two times more likely to remember you if you shake hands with them, so be sure to focus on great greetings! Typical morning greetings are a quick “good morning” or “hello,” and it’s normal to feel weird about shaking hands with a coworker you see everyday. Be the one to extend a hand on your next quality time meeting. Create opportunities for a high-five, like at completion of a project, or a fist-pump when congratulating for a job well done. Always remember to stay professional. Do you know your love language? If you’re looking to build social equity but don’t know where to begin, start with the language that resonates with you the most. Regardless of which action you take, if it comes from a genuine place, it becomes valuable. You don’t need to work in HR or finance to know when someone is or isn’t being authentic. There’s no telling what positive impacts there can be between both departments through consistent effort for improvement. What actions have you experienced at work that can be defined by the five love languages?