Quick, name your favorite boss of all time. I'll wait here for you to think of him or her.
Playing Jeopardy music.
OK, do you have the answer?
Now think about something that boss told you that stuck in your brain. Maybe it's an encouraging comment, an inspiring story, or a vote of confidence.
Guess what? The words that leader used and the encouragement you received is a big part of what made the boss good at his or her job. You can do the same. Here's how.
1. "You hit a home run." It's the best phrase for baseball fans and even works if your employee likes football instead. It's acknowledging a win, sharing the credit, and getting excited about a task all in one.
2. "Let me answer that right now." This means you are not going to waffle on the issue or question at hand. You are empowering yourself to answer and empowering the employee to act.
3. "Let's find a solution that works for you." The phrasing here is key. You are expressing a desire to find an answer right now and it is specific to that employee.
4. "Tell me your reasons." It's a great opening because it gives the employee a wide girth to speak and share his or her logic with you. Oh, and then you can give immediate feedback.
5. "Let's look for the data on that." You are stating clearly that you won't make a decision until you have data first. You are giving your employee a clear directive.
6. "What does your gut tell you?" With this phrase, you are communicating quite a few things. That you trust the employee and, when you hear their idea, you'll act.
7. "What's holding you back?" This is a good phrase to use when an employee has a good idea and you like it, but for some reason he or she is holding back. Free them to act.
8. "The company supports you." Employees like to know the company as a whole is behind what they want to do and that you are the obvious representative.
9. "You're the best at X." I remember a boss who told me I was the best tech expert he had ever known. That was 20 years ago when tech barely existed! Think of something (anything) to say that lets the employee know about their skill.
10. "I'll be honest with you." Be clear with your employees that you have integrity and remind them you are a stickler for the truth. What you say will be honest and clear.
11. "I've never seen anyone do that." Get excited about innovative ideas, creative workarounds, and brilliant ways to get things done. Single out people who do creative work.
12. "Let's table that topic for now." It's OK to let employees know the discussion is closed and you want to move onto other things. If you let topics linger, people tend to get confused.
13. "I'm giving you a raise for that." Be specific. If an employee deserves credit for nailing a work assignment, give them a raise and tell them it's specifically for that project or that activity.
14. "You did your homework." It's catchphrase, but it means you are acknowledging the employee for doing research, communicating the findings, and backing up their actions.
15. "Let's circle the wagons." Another old-school sentiment, but I like it because it means a project has taken a wrong direction and you need to start steering it again.
16. "I approve." Say it aloud to your employees and say it often. Write it in e-mails and send text messages. Make sure they know you approve of what they are doing.
17. "I couldn't have done it better myself." Make sure employees know you see they are working hard and that you don't have any special skills to do their work for them.