11 Phrases You Can Use to Motivate Staff

By Jaimy Ford

2 min read

Showing employees how important they are to you and your business isn’t hard. In fact, it takes mere seconds of your time — and can boost morale and performance.

Recognize hard work and motivate your staff by regularly using these phrases in your conversations with them:

  1. “That was awesome. Tell me how you did it.” In saying this, you point out exceptional work and also ask the employee to teach you his or her methods. These are both powerful indicators that you respect the person’s abilities.
  2. “I am so proud of you.” Everyone wants approval, and this phrase offers it in spades.
  3. “You’ve really made a difference here. I’m glad you joined the team.” People want meaningful jobs that make a difference. Telling employees specifically how their actions have improved your business will help to ensure that they continue to excel.
  4. “I have an idea I’d like your feedback on.” As the boss and the business’s owner, you could easily exert your authority and simply tell people what to do. However, when you ask for employees’ feedback and use it, you foster a collaborative group of stakeholders who take ownership of ideas and responsibility for executing them.
  5. “I trust your judgment.” Few phrases are more empowering than this one. With it, you give employees the freedom to make decisions. Because they feel respected, they usually will do everything in their power to meet your expectations. (Warning: Before you utter this statement, make sure that you mean it. If you say it and then reject or reverse a decision, you may destroy employees’ confidence and morale.)
  6. “[Insert co-worker’s name] said wonderful things about you …” Peer recognition is one of the most coveted forms of praise, because it’s seen as genuine. Unlike supervisors, co-workers are not necessarily expected to offer feedback or compliments to colleagues.
  7. “What can I do to help?” Without being asked, step in and offer your employees a hand. Or use this phrase when you see employees feeling stressed or overwhelmed. When you roll up your sleeves and work alongside them, you reinforce the importance of being a team player and make people feel supported.
  8. “I was wrong.” So few managers admit their mistakes because they don’t want to appear weak, but doing so is your best bet for gaining employees’ respect.
  9. “I’m sorry.” This phrase goes a long way toward rebuilding relationships with employees. When your actions or words offend someone, apologize for what you did or said. Never try to justify your misjudgment or pass the buck.
  10. “You’ve gone above and beyond this week. Take the rest of the day off.” It’s not always feasible to say this, but offer an afternoon of paid time off when you can. It’s a wonderful way to recognize employees who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
  11. “Don’t think about work on your vacation.” Everyone needs a chance to disconnect completely from work, and when you say this, you give employees permission to do so.

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