When managing employees, sometimes your patience is tested by a lack of motivation, a resistance to what you’re asking or one or more ‘problem’ workers. And just because you’re the boss does not mean you're perfect. Sometimes we all say things we regret later.
But, unlike the average worker, it’s incumbent upon the boss to keep his nose clean when it comes to verbal communication. You don’t have the luxury of saying something off the cuff when you’re frustrated. The last thing you want is for your verbal missteps to demotivate your staff, causing even bigger problems for your organization.
Here are seven phrases to especially avoid, especially in the heat of the moment. An instant reactive comment can cause reputational damage and destroy any trust your employees have in you, which can take a lifetime to repair.
"I’m the boss. Do as I say." We’re all adults here. You can’t expect that your employees will take to your hypocrisy. If you are setting different standards for your employees than you have for yourself, you can’t expect that they will respect what you ask them to do.
Related: When It's Appropriate to Micromanage
"You’re lucky to have a job." If that’s how you really feel about any of your employees, then perhaps you’re the one who’s lucky to have a job. No one works well in an environment where they are made to feel like somehow they’re indebted to their employer. If it’s not working out with a particular employee then be a professional and deal with the issues at hand. Find a way to correct them or part ways with him immediately. The mentality that your employee should “kiss your ring” is immature and evidence that you lack leadership skills.
"If you don’t like it, I’ll find someone who does." As the manager, you call most of the shots, but that doesn’t give you a license to be a jerk. Anyone can call herself a manager or the boss, but a good one will use leadership skills to motivate employees and deliver results. Threatening employees with losing their jobs, as a way to get them to do what you want, is not sustainable. Sure, they may do what you demand at first, but eventually they will become demotivated and unwilling to do more than the bare minimum to get by. And that’s if they don’t quit first.
"Why are you the only one who has a problem with this?" If we are talking about an employee who is always resistant or who has performance issues, then address those immediately. If you’re talking about an employee who is relatively cooperative, who is giving you a hard time over a particular situation, then perhaps the problem is that you’re unwilling to listen to her concerns or alternative ideas. Or maybe she's just having a bad day. Whatever the issue, don’t assume she is being obstinate for no reason and definitely don’t ask the above question. Never compare employees. It’s like comparing your children -- also a bad idea.
"I don’t have time for this." Are you serious? You’re the BOSS. It’s your job to make time. Rather than flat-out rejecting your employee’s request for your time, block out a few minutes in the near future when you can give your employee your undivided attention.
"You have no idea what stress is." Everyone has his own stress. Just because you’ve decided that yours is greater than everyone else’s, doesn’t mean it is and doesn’t give you the right to discount others’.
"Do you see my name on that door?" Yeah, so what? True that you may have built this business from the ground up or that you’ve invested your money and time into making this enterprise what it is today. But you’re not G-d and throwing your weight around is not a productive way to get employees to buy in. Without your employees, good luck servicing your clients or customers by yourself.