Mind Your And's & But's - We Mean It.
Any business owner, big or small, has to always take care of its employees. Making sure they feel well respected, cared for, heard, and seen is essential in maintaining a positive atmosphere in any business - which has everything to do with its profitability.
Lee Iacooca once said, “Management is nothing more than motivating other people.”
This could not be more true -- highly motivated people tend to be more efficient and take pride in their work. And the overall attitude of a business and its employees comes from good leadership.
Having said that, a good boss knows they can’t always simply be complimenting their employees. Sometimes you have to have tough conversations and navigating these waters can be very tricky. You want to get your point across, though without discouraging your employees or leaving them feeling negatively about themselves.
You want them to feel seen and heard as a vital part of the team and that they are doing well, despite requiring some sort of change or improvement. And “barking” demands can prove to be ineffective.
So how do you speak effectively and yet not too aggressively? With one simple word you can vastly change the effect your message has on your employees.
That word is: and.
There is one word every small business owner should try to remove from their vocabulary - “but.” By replacing “but” with “and,” you’ll notice how quickly you’ll see a positive change in the overall effect difficult situations and conversations will now have.
Every boss creates their own path and finds their own voice. Occasionally we still run into bumps that we can avoid; this is one easy way to do that.
Let’s try a real-world example. You have an employee that is doing a great job and unfortunately makes a mistake in dealing with a client. You don’t want to be too hard on them because they are such a great, hardworking employee. You also know you must have this difficult conversation with them.
A great way to have this conversation is to begin with a strength they have, using a specific example. Then comes the hard part - their mistake and why they need to do/be better, how to fix it, and move on/learn from it.
If you tell them what they’re doing well and then say “...but...” they will forget everything you said before the word “but,” only hearing you “nagging” them and telling them what they did wrong. They end up feeling like everything you said before “but” is irrelevant.
“And,” though, will help the employee listen better to - and feel better about - the critique, feeling respected because of everything positive you outlined before the word “and,” and more likely to make the required changes.
By making this simple swap of words you might be surprised at how quickly navigating the waters of tough conversations can be made easier for everyone involved. And with a positive atmosphere, your employees can succeed, which means your business can, too.