Five Tips for Talking to Your Employees
Every manager knows that there’s a delicate balance between being too friendly with an employee and being the nasty boss from hell. So how you straddle this divide will not only determine how your team feels about you, but also determine their work performance and loyalty to the company.
Foolishly, some managers still ignore common-sense rules of etiquette and politeness simply because they see themselves as superior. Don’t make the same mistakes. To build a mutual respect between you and your employees — which is smart for both parties — just follow these five tips below.
Let’s be clear, we’re not suggesting you find out the intimate details of your employee’s love life, but learning about each other outside of the workplace is a way to build a stronger relationship and let your employee know that you are genuinely interested in them. A simple question like, “What are you doing this weekend?” is a perfect ice breaker.
Say “We”, not “I”
Everytime you say I, you’re steering the conversation towards your needs and your wants, and diminishing the role of your employee. Yes, you are the manager, but you are working with others to make sure company goals are met. Using “we” is more inclusive and fosters a sense of teamwork and collaboration that is encouraging and empowering for everyone on your team.
Practice “Yes, and…”
It may be tempting to cut off an outlandish idea with a “but”, but “yes, and” is far more effective if you want to keep a conversation going or a brainstorm flowing. No one likes to be shut down, so it’s important that you affirm first before immediately disagreeing with it. Doing so will make your employee feel heard and more likely to continue contributing or participating in a discussion.
Think Twice About Humor
This might be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many leaders still say off-color things in an attempt at humor. Even if a joke is not overtly sexist or racist, it could still be offensive. A good way to test if a joke is not safe for work is to imagine delivering it to a group of strangers. If the thought makes you squeamish, just skip it.
Always Have Something Useful to Say
Don’t be that manager that holds an employee hostage and rambles on and on about something trivial. Yes, it may be work related, but unless there is a reason that person needs to know about it, avoid wasting their time and your time with unnecessary banter of conversations. This is disruptive and frustrating to your employee who may be too polite or uncomfortable to excuse themselves. And when you actually do have something important to say, people may not take it seriously.
Be Honest and Respectful
It’s as simple as following the golden rule. Treat others how you’d like to be treated. If one of your employees is not performing to their potential, be honest about their work, but don’t attack them. Saying something like, “I noticed that your work isn’t the quality that it usually is, what’s going on?” is far more considerate and effective than asking, “Your work is terrible lately, what’s wrong with you?” Going the respectful route is also more likely to result in reciprocation from your employee.
By practicing these tips, you are helping to set a culture of respect and tolerance for your entire workplace. The more employees see their leaders behave a certain way, the more likely they will follow their lead.