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Things a Boss Should Never Say to an Employee

Psychologist, Keynote Speaker and Male Ally

Things a Boss Should Never Say to an Employee

In today’s workplace, so much significance is placed on what separates ‘good managers’ from ‘exceptional leaders’ that we frequently fail to realise how one-sided these phrases can sound in the work environment. Therefore, in recent years, a push towards a ‘coaching-style’ management technique has occurred, which has helped to bring out and boost the strength within a team by placing focus on constructive feedback and posing questions rather than handing out orders.

Research has shown that companies who use coaching methods enhance both employee productivity and engagement by circa 12%. Plus, 80% of workers reported that that they feel better, work better and communicate better under this management style. Given the aforementioned statistics and apparent advantages of this form of leadership, it’s not surprising that this management method has quickly become the current trend, with over 60% of businesses planning to increase and expand their coaching strategies over the next five years.

How can you implement this leadership style?

It is important not to view these methods as ones that are complex and new, as, in reality, they have existed for many years, yet have merely been underused in the workplace. In reality, all that is required to get the ball rolling is an alteration to your mindset and the development of a workplace culture that facilitates complete openness.

Although this may seem challenging to implement, the first stages of which are actually very straightforward. Switch to asking questions rather than making statements. The former helps to improve trust and promote dialogue; they turn the vast majority of working place discussions into opportunities to develop – which is crucial for a happy, motivated and productive work environment.

Let’s take a look at some examples of things management should never say to their team (and what they should say instead):

“You get paid to do your job, not so I can do it for you”.

Statements such as thins will come across as dictatorial and will certainly not inspire trust, loyalty, motivation and employee well-being. Instead, ask them what their plan is in their current situation and proceed to discuss this with them in a constructive fashion.

“You’ve done a great job today. Nice work”.

Generic and general compliments may boost pride and confidence in the immediate short term. Still, they also come across like you’re not really paying attention to what the employee I actually doing. Instead, ask them how they found their work and specific tasks and proceed to engage a conversation regarding this.

“I don’t have time to talk right now”.

By flat out refusing to speak to your team, you’ll decrease your perceived value of them, which in turn may have adverse effects on motivation, well being and motivation. Instead, say something along the lines of ‘I’d like to talk about this, but I’m really busy right now. Can we arrange a time to discuss this in more detail?’.

“Is that clear?” / “Does that make sense to you all?”.

Asking broad questions like these may cause two issues: firstly, if you’ve given them a lot of information they may not have sufficient time to process this, and therefore may not know how to respond; and secondly, if it’s during a team meeting, they may not want to admit they’re not 100% clear for fear of being the only one who is confused by the information provided. Instead, ask team members to walk you through the plan to ensure everyone is on the same page and allow for positive and constructive dialogue. Furthermore, reassure team members that it’s ok if they’re not 100% sure on what has been discussed.

“Leave personal issues at home”.

Saying something akin to the above statement reeks of insensitivity and shows them that you don’t really care about their feelings and well-being. This, as you would expect, could have disastrous effects on morale and motivation. Instead, be open and ask them if there is anything that is bothering them and that your office is always open to them if they need to discuss anything.

“Failure is never an option”.

Statements like this can induce fear to innovate or experiment, which may stifle an employee’s creativity. This, in turn, may decrease morale, motivation, happiness, productivity and well-being. Instead, ask about backup plans and ‘plan’s B, C and D’ and discuss them in detail.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list (we’d be here for years if we were to list everything you shouldn’t say!), but the above are just a handful of common examples. Using common sense and putting an emphasis on constructive questions rather than statement is the way forward.

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