Dumb Things Managers Say — And What You Can Do About It

© Robert Kneschke - Fotolia.com
© Robert Kneschke - Fotolia.com

Bnet recently published a list of “The 32 Dumbest Things That Real-Life Managers Said.” There is a lesson to be learned in all of them, but these three particularly struck home with me.

  • “Don’t worry, give it a try. You have nothing to fear but failure, demotion and termination.”

You get what you recognize and reward. If you want employees to be innovative and come up with new solutions, then you must give them room to fail. Not every idea works out as intended. Unless employees have the confidence they can try and fail, then try again, they will not ever try.

Change this to:Don’t worry, give it a try. You’ll likely be recognized for creativity and innovation, regardless of final outcome.”

  • “Bonuses in my department are rewarded to team players who have demonstrated an appreciation for my leadership.”

Employees the world over are familiar with this blatant play at favoritism. Once again, this management style is guaranteed to deliver mediocre performance from all. Even those who “appreciate your leadership” won’t offer creative or new solutions – they’ll just parrot your wishes.

Change this to: “Recognition in my department is given to team players who have demonstrated a commitment to helping each other live our values and succeed.”

  • Okay you bunch of cry babies, what’s this I hear about bad employer-employee relations?”

Employees, generally, are willing to give their all – engage in their work and with the company – if they know those efforts will be recognized and appreciated. They won’t keep giving this discretionary effort in a vacuum, however. Acknowledge employees as valuable members of the team whose contributions are noticed, and they will engage.

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Change this to: “Okay team, what’s this I hear about our team doing an amazing job, again?

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve heard a manger say? What would you change it to?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at irvine@globoforce.com.


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