Love Letters at Work? Seriously?

Gratitude Organizational culture Respect


Key Point: “The word love has no place at work. Too much recognition will make us soft and distract us from our mission of making money. We are a bottom line company and have no time to worry about things like culture, values, purpose and other mushy words liberals use.” I have heard every one of these sentences spoken by executives. They are not a paraphrase. They are quotes. What do you really believe about these comments?

Let’s face it; the word “love” is a controversial term in business. Yet one definition of “love” is “an intense feeling of deep affection.” Anybody who has been part of a winning team knows that sense of deep personal affection. When you see players on winning teams talk about each other, it always involves deep affection, and the word “love” is often used. All that hugging after a Stanley Cup or Super Bowl win isn’t practiced. It is real, expressed “love” of teammates. Sincere and specific recognition is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of respect. When everyone feels like they are contributing to a mission and purpose, their sense of value and belonging increases. And being part of an effective team is more important than ever these days. No organization or group has ever won anything exclusively because of one person. Self-accountability, as you know well by now, is a key tenant of the Character Triangle. However in the context of successful organizations, it is most meaningful when people team up on that common value. The toughest Special Forces leaders (read the perspectives of Generals Stanley McChrystal and/or David Petraeus) know that that purpose, mission, and values have to be clear or failure and morale decline is inevitable. And making money alone is NOT a sustainable long-term motivator. Mission, purpose and values are.

Have you ever received a genuine letter expressing sincere care and affection from a teammate or colleague? Did you immediately throw it away? Did you even save one or two of those notes? I have been sending DWD cards for 35 years. They stand for “Darn Well Done.” People have saved those cards and shown them to me, often years after I’ve delivered them. They are my version of a “love letter.” Yup… I said it. Love.

Character Move:

  1. Commit to giving recognition to others. No person or organization has ever fallen apart because of too much recognition. On the contrary, most of us enjoy well-intended acknowledgement.
  2. Make sure your personal and group mission, purpose and values are clear to yourself and others. Believe in them or leave.
  3. Deep affection or love at work comes from winning! And winning is achieving milestones towards a mission, living a purpose and/or embracing common values.
  4. Telling others you deeply and sincerely appreciate their contributions is a love letter at work. Write them often.

Love letters in The Triangle,