Company CultureEmployee EngagementEmployee Recognition

5 Powerful Phrases Every Leader Should Regularly Use to Improve Employee Engagement and Employee Performance

By March 26, 2024 No Comments
5 powerful phrases every leader should use

I was reading an article about 5 phrases to use in a romantic relationship and it made me think that, at work, there are at least 5 powerful phrases every leader should regularly use with their team, colleagues, employees, contractors, partners, etc.

In summary, in that article, the five phrases are:

“I’m sorry.”

“Help me understand this.”

“I can forgive you. Can you forgive me?”

“I am committed to you.”

“I like you.”

A quick online search will show plenty other lists of words and phrases that can enrich a personal relationship. In this blog post, I want to focus on 5 powerful phrases every leader can use, repeatedly but genuinely, to enrich professional relationships. Why? Because enriched professional relationships could have a drastic impact on workplace satisfaction, performance, engagement, employer brand, etc.

Because we work around people all day long and why not work to have our environment pleasant, and a place people want to come to?

These 5 powerful phrases every leader should use are, well, just mine. I don’t have scientific evidence to back them, just a few decades of human interaction and anecdotes. I want you to talk to your team, your leadership, and come up with as many phrases as you can that should be repeated in your organization. You are creating and feeding a culture, and this is part of how you can do that in a positive, intentional, powerful way.

5 Powerful Phrases Every Leader Should Use

1. “I want to hear more.”

Each person on your team wants to know that you value them for their smarts. They may not have degrees or formal training, but some of your workers will know more about their job, processes, customers, or whatever then you will ever understand. I hope that’s the case, anyway. You have people with integrity and personal values that make them want to do the best job they could possibly do.

Instead of coming to work thinking you know everything, or more than them, come to work and ask what they think. What information do they have about any aspect of their work that you should know. What process improvement ideas do they have? I guarantee you have someone on your team that has thought about a better way of doing something… you should know what they are thinking.

2. “What do you think we should do?”

This is related to the first phrase but it is a more specific question on something to move forward on. Ask your team what they think you should do, and then seriously consider what they say. If you ask but never do what they suggest, they will stop sharing their ideas. If you ask and don’t even acknowledge what they share, or the validity of what they share, they will eventually stop giving ideas.

You have a wonderful opportunity here to tap into a subject matter expert, or at least a person who will be highly impacted by a decision, to find out what would work best. If you think they are just out to have an easier job, or be lazy, you are starting out with the wrong attitude. Maybe they do want their job to be easier, but your employee (hopefully) doesn’t want their role to fail. The ideas are there, you just have to give them permission to share them.

3. “I’m glad you are on my team.”

Everyone wants to feel seen, heard, and valued. When you say these seven words you are affirming that you see, hear, and value them.

I’ve always been intrigued by the “love language” we call “words of affirmation.” I don’t need it the way some people need it, but every once in a while it hits right and it feels really nice. At work, there is not enough positive affirmation. Especially in today’s environment, where we read about layoffs every day, talk about high interest rates and the price of gas, and hear about the shifting landscape, it’s scary. People are afraid. They wonder about their job and the health of the organization.

When a leader says, “I’m glad you are on my team,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that things are less scary at a macro level but it sure can give assurance to people that you want them on the team. Practice expressing how you see and value your teammates and you’ll create an environment where they can worry a little less, and put that energy into doing better in their job.

4. “I was wrong, I’m sorry.”

There’s no way we believe that we always have all the answers, make the right decisions, and do everything right. The flip side of that is that we make mistakes. I’m a huge proponent of failing in a safe place, in a safe way. I think it’s important to own up to our failures, and to model how to respond to and react to failure.

This phrase is a healthy model. It’s healthy for you to say it and it’s healthy for your team to hear it. When you say this you make failure okay. Of course, there is more: You learn from it, you improve, etc. But starting off by owning up to it, taking responsible, and expressing regret or sorry is good for your team to hear. When you hear this from them, make it safe. Make it okay.

5. “You did an excellent job!”

A big theme at Snowfly is employee recognition (sometimes paired with employee rewards). Simply recognizing any good that anyone did will help build a culture of achievement and pride. When you use this as one of the 5 powerful phrases every leader should use, you are letting your team know that the effort they put in was important, and not for nothing.

You want to hear that you did an excellent job, don’t you? Many times, leaders see rewards on their paychecks in a meaningful way. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make someone feel like a million bucks… simply practice showing that you appreciate the value they bring to work every day. Express it with a simple phrase but make sure that phrase is genuine and heartfelt.

BONUS: Four of the five phrases I listed above, from the article about personal relationships, are great phrases to use at work. Whether you use those, or the five I just shared, I want you to come up with at least 5 powerful phrases every leader in your organization should use, and start to use them. Practice them until they sound natural.

The Snowfly team is hyper focused on employee performance and engagement. Subscribe to the blog, share this post, and reach out to us to see how our tools can help improve your culture.

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Jason Alba

Jason Alba

I'm passionate about building great cultures. I love respect in the workforce, especially respect that is earned. I love strategic management, leadership, and vision. I love healthy companies through profitability. I love employee engagement, employee performance, and employee satisfaction. I love how Snowfly can help YOUR organization work towards all of these things.

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