1. “You can’t be serious?”
Scenario: The employee has carried out an action to the bets of their knowledge, but unfortunately was not yet suitable for the task.
Translation: “I can’t believe that you thought this was the approach you should take.”
A different approach: Take the position of awareness, the employee is clearly making a serious attempt, this alone should be merited. You could ask, “What approach have you gone for with this?” Then you could explain that you went for a similar approach on your first try, but what you discovered was…. And what you did instead was this…. “You should try that and let me know if you need any help”.
This reinforces the fact that as a manager you are approachable and willing to help. Most of all, it shows that you respect the employee’s efforts.
2. “No offence, but…”
Scenario: The employee has produced results that you feel could be improved. Perhaps they said something or acted in some way that you do not agree with.
Translation: “No offence, but this might actually hurt your feelings.”
A different approach: What will result from such a phrase is undoubtedly the employee feeling slightly degraded. This is not useful in the long run as he or she may feel too embarrassed to share their ideas in the future or produce their work passionately. Agree with what they have said or done on the level of their understanding. You could say, “I see why you would say that or think this. I too have tried this or thought that”. “I recommend taking this angle on it.”
This will benefit your working relationship with your employee, showing them that apart of being human is to say and do things incorrectly every so often and that you are there to help them do their best.
3. “Never mind, I’ll sort it”
Scenario: This is usually used after the employee has made a valiant attempt at the task in hand, but is either unable or has not produced the final result you feel is acceptable.
Translation: “You are clearly unable to carry out this task and I’ll think twice about trusting you with future tasks.”
A different approach: Even if how you feel is not in relation to how the employee perceives such a phrase, it is only important that this is how the employee will translate it. It is understandable why you may opt to do it yourself and express your concern this way, but in the long run it is of little use. You need your employee to be capable and if they are not yet able to perform specific requirement, it is in your interest to teach the correct methods. You could try, “This is hard to do at first, trust me, but let me show you a few things I learnt which should help.”
This will give your employee the freedom to make mistakes and not feel ashamed because of them. This will result in a far more competent team member than if they were consistently denied your experienced guide.
It is incredibly difficult to be mindful over the words we use when speaking to others, especially if we are feeling frustrated. By having awareness over how we communicate to our employees, we actually save ourselves from repeated stress from having to pick up self-perceived slack. How we communicate can actually facilitate the development of your employee’s skill set. It is amazing that something seemingly as little as communication skills can actually transform the way in which your business operates for the better.