As a leader, what you say matters. So as you go about each day, facing challenges, guiding your people and meeting your performance goals, make sure you are using the following phrases.
“Don’t sweat it.” Employees make honest mistakes. Sometimes they are pretty big ones. You can become angry and criticize them, or you can acknowledge that it was a mistake, look them in the eye, and tell them not to stress about it. Unless employees are indifferent or have repeatedly made mistakes, cut them a break. It won’t do the team any good if you destroy employees’ motivation, morale or confidence.
“Tell me what you really think.” You want employees to speak their minds, point out flaws and disagree with you. That is the only way to prevent costly mistakes and wasted time.
“I don’t know the answer to that.” You can’t possibly know everything, and employees appreciate when you are brave enough to admit it, and more specifically, when you rely on their knowledge.
“What did we learn?” Especially when your team fails, talk about lessons learned and what you will change next time.
“You can say ‘No.’” Employees—even when they are overloaded and overwhelmed—often are reluctant to push back against unreasonable requests to take on more work. Let employees know that you want them to tell you when they have taken on too much.
“I’ve got your back.” Employees need to know that you will support and defend them no matter what. They need to know that if things go wrong, you won’t start pointing fingers at them to save yourself and that you will stand by them.
— Adapted from “The 6 Short Phrases You’ll Hear Good Leaders Say (a Lot),” Paolina Milana, The Muse, www.themuse.com.