October 14, 2014

What Are Your Employees Hoping To Hear From Your Sweet Lips?

By Paul Bieber

Here are a few statements that an owner or manager might say to an employee. Which four of the top statements do you think employees really want to hear? The first three readers who respond with the correct answers will receive an autographed copy of my new book, “Solutions To Everyday Business Problems.” The answers will be in next week’s blog, along with an explanation about each statement.

A. “You are going to get a 3 percent raise next year, which, by the way, is larger than the rate of inflation! I feel that is especially generous based on today’s economy.” Everyone wants a raise, so it is certainly good news when you say this.

B. “Everybody, come over here to see the outstanding work Bill just finished!” Praise is so important to every employee in your company. It is wonderful to praise an employee, and even better to share that praise with your whole company. Let everyone see that you care about quality, that you recognize good work and that you are proud of the troops. Or will most people think you are showing favoritism in the company?

C.  “So you made a mistake. That’s OK; let’s try to learn from this.” Sure, you say that everytime someone screws up. You don’t jump up and down and worry what your customer will think. Well, what would happen if you tried this? Do you think your employees will tell you about mistakes before the customer calls yelling at you?  Could you run your company using this approach?

D.  “Bill, you did a great job on that storefront yesterday. Please take tomorrow off as a way for me to say thank you.” What a great boss you are to thank this way to Bill. This shows you appreciate good work by your team. Or are you thinking of laying Bill off and want to see how his department runs without him? 

E.  “Hey Al, can you give me a hand on preparing this quote? You know the labor needed better than I do.” Some managers will never say this as they think this is a sign of weakness that they don’t know everything.  Others will ask for help on things they don’t know. From an employee point of view, will employees be glad to help you as they feel they are part of the team and you trust their abilities? Or will they look at you as unknowing of the job?

F.   “Hi Mary, my buddy, Jerry, asked me to be a substitute player on his golf league team for four weeks, so I need to take off on Monday and Thursday afternoons. I know what a great employee you are, and I know you’ll be able to cover the office for me. Thanks for doing this.” Will Mary be flattered that you think she is a great employee? Will she now get her chance to show you how good she really is? Or will she think she is covering for you while you go out and play? If it is someplace in the middle of these two comments, is that a good place to be?

G.  “Hi Sam, let’s have a discussion about what you see as your future here at the company. You’ve been here three years, and it is time to figure out where you are going to be in the next three years.” This is either one of the best sentences you can speak to an employee, or one of the worst. On the best side, you know Sam has done a good job, and you want to use his talents to their fullest extent. He has accomplished his current job, and his work area runs like a Swiss-made watch. On the other hand, will Sam feel that you don’t have a plan for him; will he feel you think he needs a new task, as he hasn’t done his current task well? Is it all in the asking, or is this a question you should never ask?

Okay, there are seven comments here, and only four are on the list of what I think employees really want to hear from a manager. What do you think?  Send me your answers through the comments section below. Remember, the first three who give the correct answers will receive an autographed copy of my book, so please include your name and shipping address in your reply.