Words are very powerful tools in the workplace. If properly used they can help enhance the performance of employees and they would produce the opposite effect if wrongly used.

In this article, I have identified some commonly used phrases at the office that could dampen the morale of employees. I invite you to slowly digest them and clear them out of your organization’s communication systems.

These statements are:

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1. You are not good enough

As a good manager your responsibility is to bring out the best in your employees. Even if you observe that an employee is under-performing, you shouldn’t mention it directly. Instead you can say to that employee, “your performance can be much better”. The focus then shifts from the problem to the solution.

2. I would fire you if you…

You do not need to threaten employees to show them that you have some power over them. Bad managers are in the habit of threatening employees with quarries or firing, threats do not help to enhance employee performance. Threats further discourage employees and make them feel valueless, avoid using threats.

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3. Can’t you see what others are doing?

This statement suggests some form of comparison. I have observed that comparing people with others is not a very good way to address a poor performance problem. Instead of comparing, explain what the ideal behavior is and guide employees with respect.

4. What is your use here?

This is an indirect way of telling the employee that there is no need for his/her service in the organization. This statement can be very demoralizing and is an unproductive way to correct any wrong behavior, do not make employees feel irrelevant.

5. We are doing you a favor

You should not make employees feel that the organization is doing them a favor by employing them. As long as you have accepted them into your organization, you should respect them and treat them as you would treat your customers.

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6. You are stupid

It doesn’t matter how senseless the employee’s action is, show some respect by not using the word “stupid”. I haven’t seen many people who have built tolerance for that word, it is demeaning and demoralizing.

7. There are a lot of people out there looking for jobs

Does this sound familiar? I have heard a lot of people complain about how bad these words make them feel. Good managers wouldn’t say such words to employees no matter how irate they may feel, this statement shows that you do not value the employee.

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8. We are paying you too much for your work

Even if you feel the organization is not getting as much value as it should from an employee, there are better ways to handle the situation. Telling an employee that he/she is not worth the pay really makes them feel worthless and unappreciated.

The right words used at the right time can make a lot of difference on employees’ performance. Managers should be trained not to use these phrases at work, they KILL productivity.

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About the Author

Obaro Aziza is an HR professional with specialties in Learning and Development, Training Facilitation, Talent Acquisition, Business Partnering, Performance Management, Talent Management, HR and Business Consulting, Business Development, Strategy, Business Analysis, Business writing. 

You can reach him on LinkedIn here.

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