Saturday, December 13, 2014

10 Things Only Bad Bosses Say

A boss’s words carry enormous weight with the people he or she manages, and saying the wrong ones can destroy morale and motivation. Here are 10 of the most common phrases you might hear a bad manager say.


1. ‘You’re lucky to even have a job’

What they’re really saying here is: “You should be grateful that you’re employed during this bad job market and therefore shouldn’t complain about any conditions of your employment.” Bosses who think and say this don’t know how to deal with problems or feedback constructively.

2. ‘Just figure it out’

Saying this is both lazy and unkind. Even if you should be able to figure it out yourself, a good manager would say more politely: “This is something that I’d like you to handle yourself, using resources X,Y and Z.”

3. ‘I received an anonymous report..’

Managers do need to address problems told to them in confidence, but a skilled boss won’t focus on the anonymous report. Rather, he or she will concentrate on the problematic behavior.

4. ‘I don’t have time for your performance evaluation, but you’re doing fine’

Managing well means supplying thorough, nuanced feedback, and “you’re doing fine” doesn’t come close to cutting it. Employees deserve to know what they’re doing well, how they could do better and what they should develop.

5. ‘That’s a dumb idea’

Not every idea is a brilliant one, but a good boss knows that great ideas don’t come through if the staff is afraid of being insulted or shot down when brainstorming. Great ideas are born in environments where it’s safe to toss suggestions around, good or bad.

6. ‘That dress really flatters your figure’

Commenting on physical appearance – particularly someone’s figure – is a good way to make an employee uncomfortable. It also invites harassment complaints down the road.

7. ‘Just do what I tell you to do’

It might be faster to bark out orders without context or rationale. But that results in staff who don’t think beyond what’s required or feel ownership for their projects.

8. ‘What’s wrong with you?’

Feedback should never be personal. Good managers keep the focus on behavior that needs to change, but don’t make personal attacks on intelligence or worth.

9. ‘Your job is what I say it is’

Your job is what your boss says it is, but if you have a good manager, he or she will explain the circumstances when a role needs to broaden or change.

10. ‘You’re so much better at this than Bob is’

Putting down a staff member, even when it’s to compliment another, makes employees suspicious of which side of the compliment/insult they’ll fall on someday. Employees want to trust their managers to give feedback in private, not to make unflattering comments about them to co-workers.

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