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10 things employers should not say to an employee

David K. Williams , CONTRIBUTOR


1. You’re fortunate we gave you a job. Few companies would have the patience and time to invest in you. Don’t make your employees feel like burdens. Encourage them to be better, but don’t condemn them for their shortcomings.

2. You look really good for your age. Beyond the legal issues this brings up of ageism, it’s in very bad taste to give such a backhanded compliment.

3. If you don’t like this job, there are plenty of other candidates standing in line. You’re lucky to be employed. This is a morale killer. If an employee feels like their job is in peril, they’ll be far more distracted at work and will likely start looking for a job elsewhere.

4. Don’t you know that I am working on really important things for the company? I don’t have time for this. Make time for your employees. If you can’t squeeze in time at the moment, tell them when they can come back and then keep the appointment.

5. I keep hearing around the office that people have concerns about you. I don’t have details or specific names, but you should address those concerns immediately. You shouldn’t confront people with nothing but hearsay. Ask questions and show genuine concern and avoid being judgmental.

6. I don’t know what it is that you need to improve, but something is definitely wrong and you should work on fixing it. That’s a great way to give someone an inferiority complex. But I would suggest you be specific and respectful in your assessment of people.

7. Is that really the best you can do? Condescending and insulting; that’s a bad combination. Show people how to do a better job in the future and make your expectations clear from the start.

8. I don’t have time to give you a feedback review. You’re doing fine. When you’re not, I’ll tell you. How can people improve if you don’t give them feedback? Again, make time to tell them specifically what you like and what they can work on.

9. No one else seems to have had a problem figuring this out. Don’t unfairly compare or judge your employees. Give them clear instructions and patiently help them if they struggle.

10. It’s not personal; it’s just business. We are personal beings. Our first inclination is to take things personally. Show respect and kindness, especially when offering unfavorable reviews or other criticisms.

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