My primary Love Language is words of affirmation.1 In short, I feel most valued and affirmed when people communicate that to me verbally as compared to giving me gifts or spending quality time with me. This is an exceptionally good love language to have in a corporate setting compared to some others like physical touch (can you imagine? HR would have a conniption!).
What this means for my management team is simple: tell me and others when I’ve done a good job. That alone is a better retention device and incentive than most other tools at your disposal.2 And this isn’t a secret either. After a few months working at Isilon I explicitly told my manager about this.
Yesterday I got another good dose of verbal affirmation. Leah, one of the project managers, took me out to lunch to thank me for my assistance with the HDFS project at the end of last year. In particular she was most appreciative of a meeting we had with Greenplumb where I ended up doing a “this is how we do it” brain dump to the GP team. To me it was a simple exchange of information about our HDFS implementation. To GP this was a much needed peek into the HDFS black box which, according to Leah, helped assuage GP’s concerns about the integration effort. This apparently made project management very happy. Based on what Leah said, my involvement in the call got communicated up to Sujal, the Isilon President.
While I very much appreciated the lunch, knowing that my work was recognized and communicated upward was more valuable to me. I just hope she passed that onto my immediate management team, not just the President :)
1 The Love Languages book by Gary Chapman is focused on romantic relationships, although I find the concept generally applicable to other social situations and environments. This post is written with the wider applicability in mind.
2 That isn’t to say I don’t value financial recognition of my accomplishments and work. I’m capable of translating “here’s more money” into “here’s more money, we like you and think you do great work, please stay”.