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10 Phrases You Should Never Say In Your Business That Kill Employee Morale

October 04, 20225 min read

Any business owner can tell you the importance of keeping employees happy, motivated and productive. But what do you do when your staff grows to include more than just yourself? When you have an employee or two (or more), it can sometimes be hard to get along with all of them, especially if they’re not on the same page as you are in terms of values, goals and vision. No matter what industry you’re in, whether it’s retail, tech or something else entirely, these 10 phrases should never be used in your business to avoid hurting morale and losing employees quickly.

1) You’re Lucky To Have A Job

Employee’s often feel like they are lucky to have a job. You may be saying this phrase to motivate them, but it can come across as dismissive and unappreciative. Instead, try saying things like thank you for all of the hard work you do and I appreciate how much time and energy you put into this project. Saying something positive will make people feel valued, rather than simply lucky to have a paycheck.

 

2) Because I’m The Boss, That's Why

Being the "boss" can be a struggle in small and medium sized businesses. It takes excellent communication. When giving a directive, most employees want to see that the tasks they are given have purpose. So when an employee asks "why" it's to see the end goal and give them some insight on how to attack the task. We all remember how it felt as children when our parents said "Because I said so' when we questioned things they told us, it feels the same when someone says "do it because I'm the boss"   

 

3) If You Don’t Want This Job, I’ll Find Someone Who Does

This is one of the worst things you can say to an employee. It tells them that their job isn’t important enough for you, which will lead to them being less invested in it. Telling someone they don’t want the job and then insinuating they are too lazy to find a new one is not only rude, but also potentially illegal if you have a company policy against discrimination.

4) I Don’t Have Time For This

No one likes to be told what to do. The words I don’t have time for this, are often a way of saying I don’t care about what I am about to do, so I am going to pawn it off on someone else. This is not only unprofessional, but it can also have long-term effects on the company and its employees.

 

5) You Need To Do Better

Constructive criticism speaks volumes. Most are accepting of it and can lear from it. Performance should be reviewed based on data that can be explained to an employee.  Telling someone they need to do better without a baseline creates more confusion. Telling someone who is performing at a high rate that they need to do better is absolutely deflating. This feeling can lead to lower productivity, high absenteeism rates, and a higher turnover rate among staff. 

 

6) I'll Just Do It Myself

I’ll just do it myself is one of the worst things a boss can say to their employees. It sends the message that you think they are incapable of doing anything and it's not a good way to motivate people. By taking on the work yourself without showing the employee how to do it, you are diminishing their ability to learn skills and grow in their role. This likely exposes that you do not have the proper training processes in place as well. 

 

7) That's How It's Always Been Done

This phrase is one of the most disrespectful things a boss can say to an employee. Saying this phrase implies that the way things have always been done is perfect, and any change from tradition will lead to disaster. What’s more, a boss who says this phrase to an employee will most likely expect them to continue doing their job in the same way, but with less resources or worse conditions.

 

8) That's Not My Problem

Let's be real, every problem is always your problem if you own the business. Employees bring problems to the table seeking guidance on how to handle the problem in the future or seeking permission. So listen. Most of the time you're not solving the problem for them, they are looking for perspective on solutions they are bringing to the table. Saying "that's not my problem" undermines your own wisdom and will create lack of respect. 

 

9) Don't Question Me

As a leader, we can't just be a manager. We need to lead. Leading means being open to feedback and communicating with employees about their concerns. Listening to what they have to say about their work environment helps us identify areas of improvement and ensures the success of our team.

 

10) Failure is not an option 

When things go wrong, it’s easy to get frustrated. But don’t forget that the company is only as good as the people who work for it. Employees have a lot of power to make or break a company, so try to help them succeed. Keep individual employee targets relevant to company's targets and attainable. Don't make the mistake of saying failure is not an option and positioning your team to fail with irrelevant and unrealistic targets. 

 

To work with Katy or find out more about out programs, book a call here.

Katy Martin

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blog image

10 Phrases You Should Never Say In Your Business That Kill Employee Morale

October 04, 20225 min read

Any business owner can tell you the importance of keeping employees happy, motivated and productive. But what do you do when your staff grows to include more than just yourself? When you have an employee or two (or more), it can sometimes be hard to get along with all of them, especially if they’re not on the same page as you are in terms of values, goals and vision. No matter what industry you’re in, whether it’s retail, tech or something else entirely, these 10 phrases should never be used in your business to avoid hurting morale and losing employees quickly.

1) You’re Lucky To Have A Job

Employee’s often feel like they are lucky to have a job. You may be saying this phrase to motivate them, but it can come across as dismissive and unappreciative. Instead, try saying things like thank you for all of the hard work you do and I appreciate how much time and energy you put into this project. Saying something positive will make people feel valued, rather than simply lucky to have a paycheck.

 

2) Because I’m The Boss, That's Why

Being the "boss" can be a struggle in small and medium sized businesses. It takes excellent communication. When giving a directive, most employees want to see that the tasks they are given have purpose. So when an employee asks "why" it's to see the end goal and give them some insight on how to attack the task. We all remember how it felt as children when our parents said "Because I said so' when we questioned things they told us, it feels the same when someone says "do it because I'm the boss"   

 

3) If You Don’t Want This Job, I’ll Find Someone Who Does

This is one of the worst things you can say to an employee. It tells them that their job isn’t important enough for you, which will lead to them being less invested in it. Telling someone they don’t want the job and then insinuating they are too lazy to find a new one is not only rude, but also potentially illegal if you have a company policy against discrimination.

4) I Don’t Have Time For This

No one likes to be told what to do. The words I don’t have time for this, are often a way of saying I don’t care about what I am about to do, so I am going to pawn it off on someone else. This is not only unprofessional, but it can also have long-term effects on the company and its employees.

 

5) You Need To Do Better

Constructive criticism speaks volumes. Most are accepting of it and can lear from it. Performance should be reviewed based on data that can be explained to an employee.  Telling someone they need to do better without a baseline creates more confusion. Telling someone who is performing at a high rate that they need to do better is absolutely deflating. This feeling can lead to lower productivity, high absenteeism rates, and a higher turnover rate among staff. 

 

6) I'll Just Do It Myself

I’ll just do it myself is one of the worst things a boss can say to their employees. It sends the message that you think they are incapable of doing anything and it's not a good way to motivate people. By taking on the work yourself without showing the employee how to do it, you are diminishing their ability to learn skills and grow in their role. This likely exposes that you do not have the proper training processes in place as well. 

 

7) That's How It's Always Been Done

This phrase is one of the most disrespectful things a boss can say to an employee. Saying this phrase implies that the way things have always been done is perfect, and any change from tradition will lead to disaster. What’s more, a boss who says this phrase to an employee will most likely expect them to continue doing their job in the same way, but with less resources or worse conditions.

 

8) That's Not My Problem

Let's be real, every problem is always your problem if you own the business. Employees bring problems to the table seeking guidance on how to handle the problem in the future or seeking permission. So listen. Most of the time you're not solving the problem for them, they are looking for perspective on solutions they are bringing to the table. Saying "that's not my problem" undermines your own wisdom and will create lack of respect. 

 

9) Don't Question Me

As a leader, we can't just be a manager. We need to lead. Leading means being open to feedback and communicating with employees about their concerns. Listening to what they have to say about their work environment helps us identify areas of improvement and ensures the success of our team.

 

10) Failure is not an option 

When things go wrong, it’s easy to get frustrated. But don’t forget that the company is only as good as the people who work for it. Employees have a lot of power to make or break a company, so try to help them succeed. Keep individual employee targets relevant to company's targets and attainable. Don't make the mistake of saying failure is not an option and positioning your team to fail with irrelevant and unrealistic targets. 

 

To work with Katy or find out more about out programs, book a call here.

Katy Martin

Back to Blog

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