9 Phrases Said By Amazing Bosses

By Maren Hogan

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Like being a parent, being a boss is no joke. And you probably spend tons of time wondering whether or not you're even doing it right. If you're like most professionals, you're also extremely busy. So how do you keep your employees engaged and happy? 

These simple statements and questions are the groundwork for being a great boss without spending oodles of time and money you don’t have to do it. While no replacement for a formal performance review platform or rewards and recognition program, these are still great jumping off points to making your people feel more engaged, productive, confident and happy.

I appreciate you.

Sounds sappy but makes ’em happy. Recognition is at the top of the heap when it comes to making your employees engaged. They absolutely crave feedback and recognition. But you can’t just toss off a quick thank you and expect your workforce to become engaged. Instead, create a culture of gratitude from you to your employees by being consistent (doing it regularly) and comprehensive (using multiple channels; email, face to face, in front of others). Also, work to cultivate gratitude between your employees when they speak and interact with one another.

Where do you want to go in this company and how can I help you?

If you aren’t showing your people you care about where they’re going in their career, they have little to no impetus to be loyal to you. Creating a performance culture means constantly pushing your people to advance, even if that means you have a hole in your department. Once again, note that career development is another key driver of engagement for your employees? This simple question can do wonders for loyalty, productivity and engagement.

We, not ME.

If you want someone to help you hit a goal, you need to ensure they know they’re part of the team. If they feel like they’re doing a one-off tactical “widget” job, it’s highly likely they’ll feel disengaged and unimportant. Do you want to make people feel unimportant? Create a plan of what you’re going to accomplish together and why it matters.

I will tell you the truth.

Sometimes life isn’t all unicorns and sunshine. I always tell interviewees I won’t be their nicest boss, but I will be their best boss. This means, I won’t say your work is A+ if it isn’t, but I will also give you specific direction and help you build a process so you’ll be even better next time. I will also tell everyone else the truth, which means when you do all the work, I won’t take all the credit.

What would you do all day if you could?

This is an immensely powerful question because not only can it re-cast an employee’s current job, it can often be a springboard to a completely new job. If they are good at what they do but hate it, they’re going to eventually leave and if they aren’t good at what they do, it’s going to be very hard to make them a top performer and they’ll likely feel unproductive and unhappy. Instead open the door to what they could do, even if their resume, nameplate or degree says something totally different.

I know you can do this.

You hired this person for a reason and if you are any kind of trainer, you will be able to trust they are doing their job properly. So saying this shouldn’t be a leap of faith, it should be a natural thing. Your team will thrive if they know you believe in their abilities and have confidence in their work.

What do you need to do your job?

This could be something tangible or something totally easy. I have gotten everything from “more feedback” to “coffee stirring sticks”. You never know what people need to feel appreciated and supported.

What do you think?

Asking your employees for feedback makes them feel valued and important. It can also lead to excellent innovations in your workplaces when you act on that feedback.

How can I be a better boss?

Ugh, put on your humble hat because this needs to happen. Asking how you can be a better boss or leader is not going to be easy (especially if your staff is honest, yikes!) but it will actually make you a better boss.

Next time you’re freaking out about whether you’re a good enough boss, try 1 to all of these phrases with your team and see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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