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One Thing Your Employees Should Never Say

When your employees dare you to fire them, it's time to rethink your leadership.
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“I will go to the president, and I will explain to him what I did and what the findings were. And he is the one who can ask me to stay or to go.” Those words came from Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan after allegations surfaced the agency had illegally spied on Senate staffers. 

Though one can't begin to parse the implications in Washington D.C., many have questioned whether Brennan was daring the president to fire him.  

As a small business owner, how would you feel if one of your employees said something similar? You'd probably think, "What went wrong?"

“I can stay or go, it’s up to you” is not what anyone wants to hear because it probably means you’re not being supportive--or letting employees know that they have your support. 

As an entrepreneur, your employees should never have to question your belief in their work. If you believe in your employees, they should know it and feel confident in their role. And if they don't, perhaps you're creating an environment in which they're afraid to speak up. 

Imagine you owned a baseball team and hired a manager to put players on the field. He may not always be right, but he'd need the confidence to make a pitching change, even if that pitcher had given up home runs in the past. The manager would have to do what gives the team the best chance to succeed, not just for the game but over the course of a season. 

If you feel you're not connecting with your employees, perhaps you should flaunt your support. And if you put someone in charge of a project, don’t micromanage them or question what they’re doing in front of others. If something goes wrong with a client, you have to trust they can make it right.  

Some business owners think it’s a good tactic to keep employees guessing and never let them get comfortable. But while that will give you a sense of power, the likely result will be your employees looking to leave. After all, more than half of employed workers in the U.S.--51 percent--are either actively seeking or open to finding new jobs, according to a survey from social recruiting platform Jobvite.

With this in mind, you want to empower those working for you to try new things, and always express your trust. And if you don't trust them, let them go. But at least let them know where you stand. 

 

Last updated: Mar 13, 2014

MICHAEL ALTER | Columnist | President of SurePayroll

Michael Alter is president of SurePayroll, America?s leading online payroll service. He received an MBA from the Harvard Business School and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Northwestern University.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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