Terrible Phrases that You Should Never Say to Your Employees

There are certain things that can be detrimental to employee morale and can harm the company culture.


Being a boss is not always easy, we are all just human and sometimes we say the wrong thing in a situation. With that said, however, there are certain things that can be detrimental to employee morale and can harm the company culture. These phrases may seem unavoidable or appropriate in the moment, but can actually fracture the relationship with the employee and cause the employee to become less productive or even consider finding a new job.

“You Are Lucky to Have a Job”

Telling someone that they are lucky to have a job is insulting on a personal level. This phrase can also be replaced or joined by “Other people would love to have your job.” These phrases imply that the employee is not worthy of their job and that they are a burden on the workplace, which devalues the employee.

“I Don’t Have Time to Talk with You Right Now”

It takes some courage to go to an employer or manager with an issue, so being shot down before the conversation even begins can be demoralizing. If it is true that there is not time to talk right then, quickly figure out when it will be possible to have a discussion with the employee and schedule that right away. It is important to address issues to keep a harmonious workplace and listening to employee feedback may provide insights into issues that have gone unnoticed by management.

“When I’m Not Here, Nothing Gets Done Right”

This phrase makes anyone who says it sound arrogant and out of touch. Good managers know how to delegate tasks and train employees so that the workplace continues to operate smoothly even when they are not there. While it can be tempting to say this phrase in the heat of frustration, internalizing it and using it as motivation to work on more cross-training and better people development is ultimately much more effective.

“We Have Always Done It This Way”

The best bosses are constantly striving to improve the workplace. Referencing the way that something has always been done as evidence that it is being done correctly discourages improvement. Taking ideas into consideration and trying new things can help a workplace reach greater productivity levels while working to make employees feel valued for their input and insights.

“Your Coworkers Noticed this about Your Performance”

Saying that an employee’s peers went behind their back and reported something to management has never made anyone feel good. While it is important to address reports and concerns brought up by employees, focusing on the behavior in a way that does not make the employee feel betrayed is generally a better approach. Providing feedback in this way can help to preserve anonymity of the employee that came forward while dealing with the behavior in an effective way.

“Just Do It because I Said So”

Giving reasons for assignments and processes can make employees feel like valued members of the company while mitigating feelings of bitterness associated with performing tasks that are perceived to be inconsequential. Telling employees why things should be done a certain way can also help to broaden the employee’s view, which may shake up ideas for improvements. There should always be an effort to include employees in the bigger picture, saying phrases like the above limits employees’ abilities and impact in favor of blind obedience.

Everything that you say counts when you are the boss! Try to make your feedback positive and encouraging for better results.


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