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Derek Irvine


Senior Vice President of Global Strategy

Read more about Derek Irvine

Blog: Dumb things managers say and what to do about it


Recognise This! – Improving manager capabilities is critical to increasing employee engagement.

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:
1. “Don’t worry, give it a try. You have nothing to fear but failure, demotion and termination.”
You get what you recognise 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 recognised for creativity and innovation, regardless of final outcome.”
2. “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.”
3. “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 recognised 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.
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?
Derek Irvine is senior vice president of global strategy at HR software provider, Globoforce.
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One Response

  1. Things people say

    I had a manager that told me I didn’t have right personality for the (HR) job – what does that even mean?

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Derek Irvine

Senior Vice President of Global Strategy

Read more from Derek Irvine

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