6 Things Only Truly Crappy Managers Say

The title could just as easily be “6 Things You Should Never Say to Employees” but I thought it important to give a wake-up call to the crappy managers that might read this. Such managers usually produce sub-par to average results for their company and obviously their staff isn’t the happiest they could be.

The following 6 phrases do nothing to inspire loyalty, are generally demeaning to the recipient, and can definitely create a type of competitive atmosphere around the office that you DO NOT want.

Crappy manager

1. I’ll take that into consideration…

Saying “I’ll take that into consideration” or any other defeating iteration such as “I’ll think about it” makes it sound like you’re saying “no” nicely, so as not to let them down.

Kind of like how a parent tells their teenage daughter “maybe” she can go to the party next weekend where college kids will be hanging out, likely drinking and doing who knows what else, when in fact said parent knows it’ll be a cold day in heck before they let their kid out of their sight when the night finally arrives.

Try instead to say “Could you give me a few minutes/a day to think on that” or something that at least gives them a modicum of hope. Let them know you’re really listening.

2. Work comes first…

It takes a really special kind of boss to utter this or any other similar phrase to a subordinate. This kind of talk is only appropriate when you’re giving a final warning to a tardy employee who can’t seem to find their way to work on time, if at all on most days and always seems to have an elaborate excuse for why they couldn’t get there.

Who are you to say that work’s more important to Sally than her daughter’s first acting performance or soccer game? And so what if you don’t care about birthdays or the special events your employee has spent months planning for? They can’t predict when the tides will turn at work and suddenly you’ll demand they stay late or come in on a day off.

There are, of course, several scenarios that fit situations where “work comes first” might seem appropriate. However, it comes across as very callous and final when you say it. Try to show some empathy; figure out a way to make it up to them – big time – and you go from a crappy boss to someone who makes as equal an effort to do right by their employees as they do to getting their job as a manager done.

3. I don’t make the rules…

Ummm. Actually, in the minds of those you’re ordering around, you do. Just like the technical support rep who works for Apple is solely responsible for the design and performance of your six month old iPhone 6 that mysteriously stopped working after the recent iOS update.

I blame you!

We all need someone or something to blame. Whether it be rules, life’s problems, the 10 pounds you gained over Christmas that’s still there at the end of January. You’re the boss – own up to it! That’s one of many things you’re paid to do. That said: some employees are constant complainers, willing to draw a line and do battle whenever they receive criticism or something gets in the way of their plans. Regardless, it still doesn’t matter.

There’s always gentler, less abrupt ways to tell people they have to follow company guidelines, that won’t immediately infuriate them such as “We all have to work together and everyone has to follow the same rules that you and I do.”

4. You’re not the only one who works here…

Starting to see a pattern here? I’m not painting a very nice picture of crappy bosses. However, most of us have heard this said to us, or to another employee – even said it themselves when working in management. It can be effective in the final warning scenario mentioned earlier – but you want to make sure that the recipient deserves it and that you’re trying to squash their unruly selfish behavior.

In most situations where it’s used, uttering this phrase when confronted by an employee who needs an unexpected day off because of a health or family issue, or some other request they’re passionate about is like telling an old lady with a walker that they should just hurry up and die already cause there’s nothing left to live for.

Make your employees insignificant and you’ll become insignificant to them by default. Instead, say something more team-oriented or offer more detailed reasons why you can’t meet their request. Offer alternatives, or offer examples of other requests – even your own – that were refused because company needs couldn’t accommodate them at that time.

5. This is how it’s always been done…

Ahhh. And conformity’s thy middle name and innovation isn’t a word you’ve ever used, right? “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is another similar phrase that will forever ensure your dinosaur of a company never survives to see the next decade.

Sleepy manager
photo credit: Chris DiGiamo / Flickr

As I’ve been saying throughout this informative rant, there’s no diplomacy going on when you say most of these short daggerish phrases, most of which border on the asinine when intelligent dissection comes into play.

Consider “out with the old, in with the new” instead. That’s what’s happening in our workforce currently, with millennials making up for the largest workforce ever in American history. This generation is adaptive and creative, yet they’re also pessimistic and critical of outdated ways of thinking. Don’t be a dinosaur!

6. You’re lucky to even have a job in this economy…

Boy is the manager who says this ever an idiot! Mean label to give them yes, but they’re hugely misinformed about the current state of the economy. Whether the economy’s good or bad, talent shortages are always a reality. Take a look at Google for instance: some of the best minds on the planet working in this company, yet they’re constantly innovating and refining their recruiting process to find the true gems out there.

Tell someone with any modicum of confidence in their abilities that they’re lucky to have a job and you might as well say “You better start looking.” Cause that’s what they’ll do. There’s always a job out there, even if someone doesn’t fit the mold of skilled labor or educated there’s always a fast-food joint, coffee shop, or mall boutique that’s hiring.

Pure and simple, this phrase is nothing more than contentious and short-sighted. When you think it might be appropriate to say it, tell them “We’re so lucky to have someone with your talent/personality/ambition” instead. Even if you think they are in fact lucky to have their job, it might just give them the spark they need to become better at it.

What’s the most dreaded phrase from a manager that just makes you cringe thinking about it?