Stop Using These 5 Phrases For Maximum Work Effectiveness

As an executive coach, I hear it most of the time: “I want to keep my team happy while maximizing output!” As a manager or boss, there is a very fine line that you have to walk to keep your team happy. Just last week, one client I was executive coaching in Bangalore had a deadline that was fast approaching and I heard something that I knew spelled trouble. Nothing happens in isolation, so I figured these problems were also occurring in other organizations.

At the time it may seem like no big deal, but compound the same behavior week after week and it’s a surefire way to foster unhealthy relationships with your employees. As the leader, you might want to be the bigger man or woman and keep your comment to yourself. Find a productive technique to bring it up when you are more levelheaded.

Being an external coach, I get a neutral perspective from the leader and the direct reports.  I’ve listed five phrases that I hear time and time again that crush the possibility of positive relationships in the workplace.

1) “It will be faster if I Leadership-Communicationdo it myself.”
You want something done right?  DON’T do it yourself! You handpicked and hired these great employees for a reason. So you can focus on the big picture while your employees help you out with the work that’s a little less important, but still crucial for your business.

It can be easy to get into the habit of wanting to do everything. After all, you probably know how to do it best. But we’re not looking for the best, we’re considering for growth. And to grow you need to be using all of your brainpower and resources for those high value activities. Stepping in too often to correct the work that employee’s produce can be de-motivating and embarrassing.

2) “Be me proactive”
It can be easy to tell your employees to prevent problems before they occur. But often, employees are doing everything they can. As the boss you are more aware of the situation and often have much deeper insight and foresight with regards to problems. To fix this issue, make sure to use specific requests instead of general catchall phrases.

3) “That’s What I Pay You For”
During your career you will reward the employees for a job well done. Even though you’re constantly worried about the bottom line, never respond with a snarky “that’s what I pay you for.” Direct reports and employees are looking for recognition, whether financially or verbally. If you want to keep your employees from abandoning ship and going to another job, get used to giving out rewards for good behavior. It keeps the employees happy and producing at the highest levels.

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4) “Back In My Day, We Did Things Differently”
This is along the same lines as, “if only I was doing it…” or “kids these days.” You were probably one of the top performers during your ascension to becoming the boss. That’s why you have the position that you do. For all the hard work that you have put in, be proud of it. At the same time, not everyone has the motivation and ambition that you might have. Make an effort to find out and truly understand what motivates others and you’ll see performance skyrocket.

5) “I Would Like To See You In The Office More”
In the past, one of the most obvious ways to judge how hard an employee was working was the amount of time  that they were spending inside the office. Unfortunately, this  view is no longer a correct indicator of how much quality work your team player is producing. You are surely aware of those employees who sit around all day, yet contribute very little compared to their peers. Be sure to target productivity, rather than office hours, as a measure of an employee’s output.

It can be easy to get worked up and frustrated quickly with poor performance. Often, there are other ways to mitigate these problems than being confrontational with your employees. Develop your leadership presence by  holding your comments, especially while in a difficult situation. Take time to think about how you want to approach a situation, rather than acting out of instinct. Relationships are everything when it comes to getting the most out of your employees. Make sure you stay away from these five phrases and attitudes and you will keep your employees happily giving their very best for your team, company, and vision!

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom ~Viktor Frankl


Executive Coach Vikram Kalloo
Executive & Business Coaching – Mumbai, London



  1. Reema Nanavaty April 2, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Very good perspective on how to communicate. Practical tips. Thanks for sharing

  2. Marshal February 3, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    My previous boss always said that developing your executive presence is a life long journey. Be adaptable, be resilient, be calm and see how you shine in every relationship.

  3. Joyce January 24, 2016 at 5:03 am

    I strong believe that every executive entering the workplace should work on his presence AND everyone who has questioned why they aren’t advancing faster must too work on their executive presence.

  4. John Soldes January 23, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Many executives think that executive presence can’t be learnt-you either have it or you don’t. But it can be learned. Thanks for sharing how presence can be learned by any leader.

  5. Wilson January 14, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Interesting concept of working on one’s executive presence. The 3 behaviors sound very interesting. Where can I get more info from?

  6. Zelma Bernhurt January 11, 2016 at 6:40 am

    In today’s sales environment,customers expect sales leaders to be with great executive presence. And I have seen sales performance of sales leaders vary with those having a high presence and those having a low executive presence.Lovely reading your post.

  7. Maggie Beeker January 10, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    This article reminded of a book I had read few years ago in college about how to make people like you instantly. And it said that make the other person feel important and do it sincerely using your presence. Great to know that executive presence is now a critical leadership competency in the corporate America too.Going to think of that the next time I start a conversation.

  8. Buck January 10, 2016 at 10:04 am

    So it is possible to work one’s presence quotient!!!! Yay, tell me more about this Coach vikram. Help me find a girlfriend.

  9. Rola September 8, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Just reading this list makes me think the unwanted phrases we unknowingly state. Thanks for creating a list that feels doable if we just try to be aware.

  10. Ben Courtney December 22, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    As leaders get promoted in organizations, their ability to engage and inspire their employees above-and-beyond effort will depend heavily on these soft factors.

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