Being a manager is a tough job. These days, you have to be able to manage the most blended, diverse, multinational, multigenerational workforce ever in the history of work. I’m talking about boomers, gen Xers, and millennials all working together.

Whenever you talk about the current challenges of talent management or workforce development, someone inevitably mentions how difficult it is to manage millennials. That’s the group of workers born in the early 1980s who reached adulthood in the early 2000s. According to the PwC article, “Millennials at work, reshaping the workplace,” they make up about 25% of the U.S. workforce. I think millennials want the same things every other employee wants: cool benefits – including fringe benefits and perks, and to be recognized, rewarded, and appreciated.

“Thank You” are the most powerful words a manager can use, according to Bernard Marr, a best-selling author on LinkedIn. He makes a good point. As a matter of fact, “thank you” is the most powerful phrase anyone can use – giving thanks is a two-way street, benefiting both the giver and the receiver. But although it is helpful, saying it will not solve your daily management issues. Every manager will tell you that the most difficult part of their job is keeping their teams focused, engaged, and productive. Sounds simple, but there are a lot of layers involved in that, such as offering support and trust, developing staffers’ skills, providing insight and guidance, and encouraging career growth.

If you are like me, you read a ton of articles from HR experts, business leaders, the national news media, and blogs that offer all kinds of managerial advice. Coupling this information with my own experiences and feedback from clients who have had difficulties with their managers, I have determined the two most powerful phrases any manager can use – ones that work for just about every situation.

Here they are.

  1. “Let me think about that.” Here’s why it works: Let’s say your employee has a great idea, but you’re not sure if it is exactly what’s needed for the situation at hand. As the manager, you have to take some time to assess the idea and determine its strengths and weaknesses. You don’t want to rush any decision if you don’t have to, so using the phrase “Let me think about that” allows you to take the time needed to really consider their idea. It’s not a “no,” and it’s a familiar phrase that most of us heard from our parents growing up. It doesn’t really matter what the question or concern is. Does someone want a raise? “Let me think about that.” Do they believe you need this new technology to propel you past the competition? “Let me think about that.”

    Plus, “thinking about it” builds the employees’ anticipation. They get excited waiting to hear your thoughts. And the employee feels more valued versus if you just tell her “no” right off the bat. And if you decide to say “yes” to her good idea, she will be even more excited because she’ll know you have really thought it over. (Everyone wins.)

  2. “Let’s schedule a meeting.” Here’s why it works: Now let’s say your employee has an idea that’s just bad and you know it – it’s like those “Breaking Dawn” vampire movies bad. Or maybe it needs to be developed. Instead of saying “That’s a bad idea,” just say “Let’s schedule a meeting to discuss it further” instead. This is a great phrase to use as a manager because it doesn’t crush the spirits of the eager and overly excited employee who may need a little help thinking strategically. It also provides you with an opportunity to create a well-thought-out and constructive conversation that teaches, provides insight, and coaches the employee but does not embarrass him.

    Also, when you schedule a meeting, the employee has a chance to think about the proposal a little more. And who knows, he may come to the realization that his idea was not as good as he thought.

And you can use these two phrases together, depending on the situation. “Hey Boss, I want to be relocated to Spain. Can you help me?” “Well, let me think about it, and let’s schedule a meeting to discuss it.”

As a manager, you have a million things to do every day. Of course, all employees think that their issue is an emergency and is of the highest importance. But the last thing you want to do is make a hasty decision, lash out, or seem unappreciative. Employees want to feel valued and respected. If they have a boss who happens to listen to them, provide feedback, and encourage them, then they are sure to become more engaged. And that is really what it’s all about.

Chris Fields

Chris Fields is an HR professional and expert resume writer with more than 13 years of experience as a former practitioner and current HR consultant. He is the curator of two websites: CostofWork.com and ResumeCrusade.com , and contributes HR-focused content to many others, including PerformanceICreate.com and SmartRecruiters.com . He has been listed by the Huffington Post as one of the “Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts to Follow on Twitter”, one of the “Top 40 under 40” by the HR Blogger Network, one of the “25 Must-Read HR Blogs in 2013”, and also featured on Oprah.com. He is very active with the Society of Human Resource Management, working closely with conference directors, communication chairs, and social media teams from Illinois, Oklahoma, and Tennessee to develop social strategies to engage attendees and enhance their conference experience. Chris earned his master’s degree in Labor and Human Resources from Ohio State University. In 2005, he moved back to his hometown of Memphis, TN, where he has developed a reputation for helping his clients create HR strategies, and individuals master the tough economic challenges of the South.

4 Comments

  • Avatar Christy S. says:

    This article offers great advice. However, a good manager knows that it’s not about what you say, but about what you do. So make sure that when you tell one of your employees you’ll analyze his suggestions, you actually take some time to do that.

  • Avatar Chris aka new_resource says:

    Thank you Christy.
    Yes, they should actually think about it and get back to the employee. You’re spot on.

  • Avatar Ivvy C. says:

    The key to employee engagement and productivity is communication. A good manager is not confined to his office. A good manager listens to what the workforce has to say. And not only that, he or she takes measures only after thoroughly analyzing the information and discusses his or her decisions with the employees.

  • Avatar Darry T. says:

    These are very good suggestions. After all, a good leader is trusted and respected by all employees. And in order to gain trust and respect, you have to show your employees that you value and appreciate them, that they can speak up their minds freely, and that their opinions are heard and considered.

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