Do’s and Don’ts When Talking to Employees
“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” – Anne M. Mulcahy, former chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation
Being successful at managing your employees is not such an easy task at all. Building a good relationship can be quite demanding, and it can take a long period to develop. On the other hand, damaging a good relationship with employees can occur instantly if the manager utters something which is inappropriate in that situation. In that case, a once stable relationship can be crushed in a matter of seconds, even if the manager had no intention of turning out intimidating or offensive.
Bearing in mind the consequences which inappropriate communication can bring, the management should try to avoid using certain phrases and words which can drastically damage employees’ motivation and start applying those that will boost their willpower.
"I don’t want to listen to your complaints" – No one likes to hear complaints. However, they are an essential part of every business and will eventually come not only from employees but also customers and even partners. Complaints are bound to happen, and by trying to evade them in such a way, you will risk hurting your employee’s feelings. A good leader should always seek feedback even if it is negative. By listening to your employee and trying to handle their complaints, you will improve your relationship and build loyalty.
"We’ve always done it this way" – And how is that working for you? There are always better ways to accomplish something, and by considering everyone's opinion, you might come to an interesting idea which will potentially improve your business. Besides, just acknowledging your employee's ideas will drastically boost their confidence and productivity.
"I don’t have time for this." – Your employees are the part of your company, and they are working for you. If you as an executive don't have time to address your employees, who do you have time for? If you truly are in a tight situation with time, a much better solution would be to schedule a meeting with your employee where you will provide them with your undivided attention. Otherwise, you'll risk making your employee feel unimportant even if they are an integral part of the company.
“…but,” – This short word can cause you much trouble if used at the wrong moment. Sometimes it is best not to split hairs and just congratulate your employee on their achievement. Although there is always room for improvement, using the word ‘but’ can drastically damage your employee’s mood after they had put a lot of effort in completing a project which proved to be successful. Employees’ mistakes should be highlighted, but sometimes that can wait a while.
"Stop by my office anytime." – Although in most cases this does not mean literally, it is still a very positive affirmation. By letting your employee know that you are available for them when they either have a problem or just want to say ‘hello’, they will become much more loyal and devoted to their job.
Kenneth Lin, CEO and founder of Credit Karma, has implemented an open-door policy to improve company communication.
"Whenever I'm in my office and available, I encourage anyone to come by and share their thoughts about how they feel Credit Karma is doing," says Lin.
"I need you to improve. Here's what's working well." – The sandwich technique is always a good choice when you want to point out some problematic issues of your employee’s performance. By opening and closing with a positive argument and placing what they need to improve in the middle, you will build a structure which will praise your employee’s achievements as well as highlight the critical point which they should improve.
"Can I get your advice on this?" – According to Alison Wood Brooks and her study on taking advice, people who ask for someone's opinion do not appear incompetent as most people think, but just the opposite. Asking your employees for advice will not only portray you as a confident leader but also show them that their opinion matters in that company.
"You are right." – Admitting your mistakes can indeed make you a bigger person. Humble leaders are usually those who make the boldest decisions. By admitting that your employee was right and you weren't will not crush your image. On the contrary, it will prove that you are a wise leader looking to improve and learn from everyone who has good ideas, no matter the company hierarchy.