5 Languages Spotlight: Quality Time

Many people assume that appreciation is communicated verbally.  While using words is one way to show staff members that you value them, many employees prefer appreciation shown through the language of Quality Time.

By Quality Time, we mean spending time with a colleague either by giving the person your focused attention, or working collaboratively with them.  We are not talking about simply being in physical proximity to another person. Many of us work closely with colleagues all day long, but at the end of the day will honestly say, “I did not have any quality time with any of my colleagues today.” How could anyone make that statement? Because the key element of Quality Time is not proximity but personal attention.

Individual and Collaborative Experiences

Quality Time was the language of appreciation that really forced us to consider how the languages of appreciation can differ in the specific actions individuals prefer. Workplace quality time often falls into one of two categories, individual and collegial.

Individual quality time often involves one-on-one time with a supervisor or leader (but may involve valued colleagues, as well.) An employee who values this type of time is looking for individual, focused attention from their coworker.  Frequently, they want to be able to share thoughts and observations, ask questions, and get input. This type of interaction historically has been valued by older generations of workers.

Collegial quality time centers more on spending time on time with colleagues, often doing activities together. This may include something as simple as “hanging out’ together during lunch.  Or, instead of going through a shipment alone, multiple employees work on the task together. Spending time together outside of work (for example, getting together to go to a local festival) is another variation.  While these activities can include a supervisor or leader, sometimes team members prefer to connect with one another without the supervisor involved. Younger generations, especially Millennials, tend to favor these sorts of interactions.

Do’s and Don’ts

There are many settings in which managers and coworkers can express appreciation by speaking the language of Quality Time. In our consulting with various businesses and organizations, we have gathered from employees the different ways they value spending time both with coworkers and supervisors. Here are some of the specific activities they have shared with us:

  • Go to lunch together to talk about work-related issues.
  • Go to lunch together and NOT talk about work-related issues.
  • Spend time exchanging ideas and solutions to problems and/or challenges.
  • Stop by, sit down in my office, and check in with me about how things are going.
  • Take a walk together during the lunch hour.
  • Have an off-site retreat for the staff.
  • Get together to watch sporting events.
  • Give me a call occasionally, just to chat.

Spending Quality Time with others often does not require a lot of time — maybe 5 minutes to check in with them.  But  communicating a sense of being rushed by looking at your watch frequently, or allowing yourself to be interrupted by your cell phone does not demonstrate a sense of value to others. Repeatedly rescheduling the date and time you plan to spend with an employee is also likely to offend them and sends the message that they are a low priority.

When, Where, Who?

As we have worked with organizations, we’ve received important and consistent feedback from non-manager employees. There is a distinct difference between what they desire from their supervisor and what they desire from coworkers. “The issue of quality time is difficult for me,” Holly said, “because it depends whether you are talking about time with my supervisor or time with my coworkers. Although I like my supervisor—he’s a great guy—there are some things I like doing with my colleagues that would feel weird if I did them with my supervisor.” Many employees would echo Holly’s sentiments.

The increase in remote workers has added a new challenge to managers and colleagues of coworkers whose primary language is Quality Time. Make sure to set up individual conversations to touch base. Sometimes this is easily accomplished by setting up one-on-one time either before or after a group conference call.  Better yet — face time through videoconferencing is preferred over phone calls, emails, or text messages alone.  Remote employees have also expressed a preference to be included virtually in larger team meetings.

Conclusion

Showing appreciation by spending time with those you work with can take different forms, but the impact on your team member can be significant. If their primary appreciation language is Quality Time, your investment will pay huge dividends. Do you know what your primary language of appreciation is? Find out by taking the MBA Inventory.

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