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The 6 most inspiring things to say to employees

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There are a lot of unmotivated employees out there.

According to one survey, only around 20% Singaporeans feel engaged at work, less than countries like China (27%), Malaysia (28%) and Indonesia (41%).

Staff are also reporting incredibly high stress levels all over the place, and more than half of employees say their job is “just a job”, rather than a well-defined career path.

Even if these sorts of statistics don’t relate directly to the market you work in, it doesn’t take a genius to know there’s always room for improvement. And in a labour market where employees have the choice to shop around for jobs – but finding the right fit is difficult for hiring managers – there’s more than can be done to keep your best staff fully motivated and productive.

It’s a big issue and there’s lots which can be done, but seeing as an employee’s relationship with his direct manager is the single most important factor of influencing engagement, here are a few simple phrases to use to better motivate staff on a daily basis.

1. “I would really like your opinion on this.” 

When people are seen as important and that what they have to say matters, they feel happy and motivated because someone respects their thoughts, advice and feedback.

Just make sure you really listen to their opinion before you respond.

2. “I believe you can do better than this.” 

When you raise your expectations of people, more often than not they will rise to meet them.

Some might view this term negatively because it insinuates the person isn’t currently doing a good job, but in the right context and with the right tone, this phrase lets people know you think highly of them and that you have faith in their abilities to reach the goals and targets you have set for them. This can be hugely motivating, as no one likes to let other people down.

3. “What can I do to help you get to where you want to be in your career?”

Perhaps even ask for specifically two or three things an employee thinks you can do to help them develop and move up the ladder within your organisation.

This direct approach shows you are in their corner and willing to help them overcome whatever hurdles they might be facing. Plus, by extending a hand to help, they will likely perform better, helping you to achieve your ultimate goal, too. Win-win.

4. “If you were in my shoes, what would you do?”

Asking an employee to think like you not only helps them to gain perspective on an issue or problem, but also shows them you’re treating them like an equal by making them think like you.

5. “Can you show me?”

Asking to be taught or shown something by an employee implies you respect that person enough as a teacher to want to learn something from them, and it shows a heck of a lot of trust. And we all know how important trust is.

It also signifies your sincerity as a boss to take them seriously and see things from their perspective.

6. “Good job. That was awesome.”

No one gets enough praise – and it’s worth so, so much to employees.

(Don’t believe me? Read this story which puts a monetary value on the simple task of saying “thank you”)

If you’re not the sort of leader who dishes out compliments very often, giving praise will be a big deal to your staff – but don’t dole it out unless it’s sincere. Your staff are all working hard, so pick someone who has stood out to you in the last month for their efforts and tell them what you’ve noticed, how great it was, and thank them for their hard work. That’s all you need to do.

Image: Shutterstock

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Rebecca Lewis
Editor
Human Resources Magazine Singapore

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