5 Messages Wise Bosses Build into Conversations

how to be a bossWhat people in supervisory positions say to their direct reports matters.  Short and long term, it impacts morale, productivity, job satisfaction, and results.  Michael Kerr, international business speaker and author, says that “communication is never an afterthought for the best bosses.”  This article provides five specific messages to convey to each and every staffer—as often as needed.  Insert these into your conversations and see how brewing or chronic problems tend to disappear.

I want to be a resource for you. As a boss, your job is to serve the folks on your team.  Proactively ask how you can help them to meet their goals and deadlines with less frustration and greater ease.  See if they need more information or an introduction to another person.

If you were me, what would you do? Phrasing the question this way usually catches people by surprise.  They don’t expect you, someone with formal authority, to go out of your way to seek their input about problems, dilemmas, and upcoming change.  When you say these words, you are really saying you value their opinions.

I may be wrong. Telling someone you may not be viewing a certain situation accurately or comprehensively demonstrates humility.  Suggesting that you may be drawing the wrong conclusion about something shows that you don’t think you’re always right.

I know you can do it. This statement, delivered with sincerity and confidence, can make all the difference in the world when somebody doubts her ability to succeed.  Communicate your faith in her.  A boss saying this to an employee has a stronger impact than peer to peer.

What is getting in the way of you doing your best work? Most supervisors don’t pose this critical question.  Either they don’t think to ask it in the first place, or they don’t really care about the answer.  Start plugging it into your individual staff meetings this month—even with folks who excel.  Lay your ego aside, and be open to what you hear.

Wise bosses train themselves to say wise things to the people who depend on them for guidance, direction, and support.  Remember:  It is up to YOU to set the stage for optimal performance.

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Janet Ritter
Janet Ritter

Thank you, Sylvia - Excellent advice and boy, do I wish more bosses would read your column!!