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7 Phrases Abused By Bad Bosses (You Should Avoid Using Them)

7 Phrases Abused By Bad Bosses (You Should Avoid Using Them)

Being in a leadership position is hard work. You don’t want to be another buzzword-driven dictator, but you also don’t want to be seen as a pushover either. However, there’s nothing worse than opening yourself up as a phony and a fraud to your team. Doing so will only lead to disillusionment and distrust.

If you want to create a strong team of workers, ditch the cliches and forge your own path as a leader. Don’t ever be caught saying:

1. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”

Saying this is simply refusing to take or place blame for a team’s failures. Whatever was supposed to happen didn’t but it’s not because the stars didn’t align correctly. Somebody messed up. If it was you, admit it and work harder to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

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If it was an employee, privately discuss with them that they need to step it up, and provide them with ways to improve their performance. If it was the entire team, work with everyone individually and collectively in order to pinpoint exactly what went wrong, and how to avoid it next time.

2. “That’s probably not what you wanted to hear.”

As a boss, you can’t be wishy-washy about certain things. Regardless of the fact that you like an employee personally, you can’t let feelings interfere with business. It’s one of the hardest things about being a boss (if you’re not a sociopath, that is!). But by using this line, you show signs of weakness.

If you have to make a business move that might hurt someone, explain why you’re making the move. If they’re a team player, they’ll do what they have to do in order to keep the company moving forward. If they’re not willing to do so, you can’t be at fault for taking swift action.

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3. “Perception is reality.”

This is just fundamentally silly. So if I look like I’m working hard, that means I am? I imagine the sentiment behind this awful phrase is that you want your team to look presentable, and to create projects and presentations that really “wow” your customers or clients.

But truthfully, reality is reality. Positive results should always trump an over-the-top presentation. If you focus too much on appearance, all you have is fluff with no content.

4. “I’m always open to feedback”

Don’t ever say this if you don’t mean it. So many bosses say they’re open to feedback, but when it comes their way, they shut it down immediately.

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Furthermore, inviting feedback is not the same as saying you’re “open” to it. If you really do want feedback from your employees, ask them for it. A simple “What do you think?” goes a long way; it validates your employee, and will also allow you to get insight on your performance as a team leader.

5. “Failure is not an option.”

The idea behind such a blanket statement is to motivate your team to do its best. However, it’s entirely possible that you and your team will fail, regardless of the “mandate from above.”

If you’ve said that failing isn’t an option, and your team falls short of its goal, what will the other members think? How will you back up your words? Surely you won’t fire the whole group. If you want something done a specific way, make it clear to your staff why you want it done this way. Don’t just give a mandate; back it up with reasoning. If everything falls apart, refer back to the first section.

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6. “Let’s not try and reinvent the wheel.”

This is one of those statements that’s meant to alleviate some of your team’s hesitation to jump into a project for fear of failure. Really, what it translates to in an employee’s mind is “You don’t have to work that hard on this project.” But your team should always be striving to do its very best in everything it sets out to do.

Of course, you don’t really expect true innovation, creation, and “a-ha moments” around the clock, but you shouldn’t stifle your team’s productivity by making it seem like you don’t care much about the outcome.

7. “It is what it is.”

This one just gets my back up for so many reasons. Imagine Frederick Douglass or Martin Luther King, Jr. saying “It is what it is.” You can’t. Because they would never be so complacent. The only thing that’s absolutely certain in this world is death, and scientists are hard at work trying to thwart even that.

No policy or procedure is ever carved in stone. If something is holding you back, work to fix it. Don’t cop out and say “it is what it is.” That just makes you look weak in front of the team you’re supposed to be leading to success.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm9.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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