Employee Appreciation Day is coming up on March 6, so it’s a great time for bosses to send thank you cards, deliver bonuses or otherwise show their hardworking staff sincere gratitude. But in my experience, employee appreciation can be shown every day in much smaller ways – including how you communicate with your team. No matter how many business thank you cards or holiday cards you send, your staff won’t feel valued if you regularly say things that belittle them or trivialize the amount of effort they’re putting into their jobs. Here are some of the phrases you should avoid to make sure your employees feel appreciated every day – not just once or twice a year:
“Because I told you to.”
Asking for employees to respect your authority is one thing, but pulling rank in this way is counterproductive and can be seen as immature or arrogant. As a boss you should always be open to questions or concerns, but you should also make sure employees understand why they’re being asked to do the tasks they’re questioning. Instead of responding to employee concerns with “I’m the boss and I said so,” instead say, “I understand where you’re coming from, but here’s my reasoning.”
“That’s how we’ve always done it.”
Successful businesses are constantly adapting to new technologies and shifting industries. As a boss, you should be open to making changes and adjusting processes that are no longer as efficient as they could be. Plus, you want employees to feel free to be creative, so the last thing you should do is shut down any new or innovative ideas they have, let alone the ones that could make their jobs easier.
“I don’t have time.”
A surefire way to make an employee feel undervalued is to tell them you don’t have time for them. Consider how you would feel if your boss said that to you. If your schedule is too full to handle an employee concern right now, tell them that – but also say you’re happy to set aside an hour tomorrow morning or whenever you’re available next. Or, designate a couple hours each week as “open office” so everyone feels free to air problems or ask questions.
“Do this – I don’t want to.”
Any time you expect your employees to do something you wouldn’t, prepare for them to feel a little resentful or confused. Something like this may make your team feel disrespected, and it will certainly take away some of their respect for you. Make unpleasant tasks a little more bearable by spreading them equally across each team or even pitching in a little yourself.
“You’re doing a bad job.”
You never want to treat employees in a way that diminishes their confidence, personally or professionally. For that reason, disciplinary or check-in conversations should be handled with care. If you do want to address a consistent problem an employee is having, try to think of the meeting as an open conversation. For instance, start out by saying, “I’ve noticed this happening, so I wanted to check in to see what your thoughts were.”
“What’s going on with you today?”
Everybody has a bad or unproductive day once in awhile, and calling employees out on tardiness, missing deadlines or something else that’s happening isn’t a great idea if it’s an isolated incident. Of course you should check in with someone if they’re consistently late or unproductive, but once every so often is normal. Avoid holding your employees to such high standards that they feel they’re set up to fail – no one can handle that kind of pressure.