Managers, supervisors and team leaders have a responsibility to address others’ concerns and behavior in a way that’s both effective and considerate. How you say something is what people will remember about the conversation, so exercise caution when speaking about almost any topic.
Ask a Manager’s Alison Green offers six things anyone in arole should avoid saying at all costs:
1. “You’re lucky to even have a job.” This implies that because someone’s been given a position, they should accept whatever the job entails without question. Telling people their concerns, questions or complaints have no place in the office will ultimately hurt your relationship with your whole team. Your conversation won’t stay private long after this comment.
2. “Just figure it out.” You don’t have to spoon-feed anyone answers, but you do have an obligation to help people when they are honestly confused or unsure.
If there is a problem, you are the person whose job it is to facilitate a solution. Don’t hoist your laziness onto the shoulders of people whose job it is to look to you for assistance when they are stumped.
3. “I heard from an anonymous report.” Relying on co-worker complaints during a conversation about problematic behavior is going to make the individual feel isolated and alone.
If there’s a problem, focus on acknowledging its existence and the need for change, not the multitude of people who felt the need to bring it to your attention.
4. “That’s a dumb idea.” People who don’t listen to the people who are actually implementing the protocols and procedures are people who shouldn’t be a leader. The people doing the work are the ones who encounter the glitches in the process and seek to fix them, if only for their own sake, which is something you can’t count on.
5. “What’s wrong with you?” The boundary between professional interest and personal interest is a sacred line not to be crossed. Constructive criticism should address the work being done, not the person doing it, and it especially shouldn’t question their intelligence.
6. “You’re so much better at this than Bob.” An employee hears this and automatically wonders about when you may have said it in reference to them.
The quickest way to lose the trust and respect of other people is when you make clear how little you respect them.
— Adapted from “10 Things Bad Bosses Say,” Alison Green, U.S. News & World Report’s “On Careers” blog.
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