12 Phrases The Most Effective Leaders Use Every Day With Their Teams

Photo: Jacob Lund | Shutterstock 
Manager giving staff a positive chat

A manager's role is to lead and guide the team and ensure their happiness and productivity. Effective communication is the way to achieve this goal.

You create a positive work environment and foster a strong team dynamic by using concise phrases and engaging in supportive conversations with your employees.

12 easy phrases that build trust & openness with your staff

1. "What's new?"

When said with intention, it is a simple greeting that makes a significant difference.

Starting the day with a simple greeting like, "What's new?" positively impacts your team. This phrase shows you care about your employees' well-being and creates an opportunity for them to share any updates or concerns.

Regular check-ins keep a pulse on your team's initiatives and morale. A greeting should be intentional so the employee knows you are interested. When you actively listen to your employee's answer, it demonstrates your support and builds rapport.

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2. "Can I check in with you about something?"

Provide Constructive Feedback

Great managers are not afraid to provide constructive feedback to help their team members grow.

However, it's essential to approach these conversations with care. Before discussing any issues, ask for permission by saying, "Can I share with you some observations I've made?" By seeking their consent, you create a safe space for open dialogue.

When employees feel heard and respected, they are more likely to listen to your feedback with an open mind and take necessary actions to improve. Asking how someone likes to receive feedback (at the moment, during regular cadence meetings, sandwiched between positive commentary) can go a long way in creating receptivity.

Not everyone wants to hear feedback in the same way, so asking is a respectful way to ensure they will hear it.

3. "Good job!"

Recognizing and Appreciating Efforts

Praising employees for a job well done is equally important as providing constructive feedback.

Effective managers understand the power of recognition and appreciation. Take the time to acknowledge and express gratitude for your employees' efforts. It goes a long way in boosting morale and motivation. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they are more willing to work harder and go the extra mile.

Make a habit of telling your team you genuinely value their contributions. In the same way as feedback, you can tailor your approach to how your employee likes to receive praise.

4. "Any questions?"

Ensuring Clear Communication

Maintaining open lines of communication is crucial for effective teamwork.

When you initiate a new project, assign tasks, or provide feedback, ensure you and your employees are on the same page. Ask, "Does that make sense?" or “Do you have questions?” and allow your team to seek clarity without hesitating.

This question encourages a culture of open communication to help prevent misunderstandings and confusion. Encourage your team to ask questions and provide the necessary support to eliminate ambiguity. Also, make sure your team knows questions can be raised at any time — clear communication is an ongoing process, not a one-time activity.

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5. "What's the goal?"

Keeping Focus on Objectives

As a manager, it's your responsibility to keep the goals of the department and the organization in mind.

When someone proposes a new project or idea, ask them how it aligns with the team's objectives. By continuously asking, "What's the goal?" you ensure your team remains focused on the work that matters most.

This phrase encourages critical thinking to help employees prioritize tasks and contribute to the goals of the organization. This also helps showcase your employee’s success when it comes to raises, bonuses, and promotions.

If their projects are aligned with the goals of the team and company, you can create an engaging story about their contributions.

6. "How can I support you?"

Demonstrating Support and Empathy

Effective managers understand the importance of supporting their team members.

By asking, "How can I support you?" you demonstrate your willingness to help and create an environment where employees feel comfortable seeking assistance. This phrase encourages open communication about challenges or obstacles. It allows you to provide the necessary resources or guidance.

Actively supporting your team fosters a sense of trust, which leads to increased job satisfaction and productivity. Most importantly, when your team gives examples of how you can support them, follow through! If providing them with their request isn't possible, be transparent about the outcome.

7. "Let's celebrate!"

Recognizing Milestones and Achievements

Celebrating milestones and achievements is essential for maintaining team morale and motivation. Effective managers know the importance of acknowledging and celebrating successes big and small.

Saying, "Let's celebrate!" creates a positive and uplifting atmosphere. This phrase shows you value your team's hard work and appreciate their dedication. Find ways to celebrate your team's accomplishments and foster a sense of pride and camaraderie.

Thinking outside of the box in the remote working world is critical for celebrating — ask your team how they would like to be celebrated and encourage their creativity.

8. "What can we learn from this?"

Encouraging a Growth Mindset

Great managers understand the value of continuous learning and improvement.

By asking, "What can we learn from this?" after a setback or challenge, you encourage a growth mindset within your team.

This phrase shifts the focus from failure to opportunities for growth and development. Encourage your employees to reflect on their experiences to extract valuable lessons. Promoting a culture of learning creates an environment where mistakes are seen as stepping stones to success.

Remember, having your team’s back even when they make a mistake speaks volumes about your leadership. Not every mistake is a crisis, so showing proper judgment helps your team feel comfortable being honest with you.

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9. "I trust your judgment"

Empowering Decision-Making

Trusting your employees' judgment is crucial for empowering them to make independent decisions.

By saying, "I trust your judgment," you demonstrate confidence in their abilities and encourage autonomy.

This phrase encourages employees to take ownership of their work and make decisions aligned with the organization's values and goals. Trusting your team fosters a sense of empowerment and accountability, which leads to increased engagement and job satisfaction.

Trusting your team’s judgment frees up your time as a manager and reduces bottlenecks for approvals.

10. "Thank you"

Expressing Gratitude

Sometimes, the simplest phrases can have the most significant impact. Never underestimate the power of saying, "Thank you."

Expressing gratitude to your employees for their hard work and dedication shows you value their contributions. You set the example of the behavior your team should expect from each other.

This phrase should be used sincerely and frequently to create a culture of appreciation. By practicing gratitude, you reinforce positive behaviors, boost morale, and strengthen the relationship between you and your team.

11. "What are your thoughts?"

Encouraging Collaboration and Input

Collaboration and teamwork are essential for achieving success in any organization.

By asking, "What are your thoughts?" you actively involve your employees in decision-making and problem-solving.

This phrase shows you value their input and ideas. Encourage open discussions and create opportunities for everyone to contribute their perspectives. By fostering a collaborative environment, you harness the collective intelligence of your team and drive innovation.

12. "How can we improve?"

Embracing Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is a key aspect of high-performing teams. By asking, "How can we improve?" you encourage your team to think critically about their processes, workflows, and outcomes.

This phrase fosters a culture of continuous learning and innovation. Encourage your employees to provide suggestions and feedback for improvement and be open to implementing changes based on their insights. When the changes cannot be made, be transparent about the reasons.

By embracing continuous improvement, you create a dynamic and adaptable team that strives for excellence.

Effective managers understand the power of their words.

Using phrases that foster open communication, appreciation, accountability, and collaboration creates a positive and productive work environment.

Remember: listen actively, provide constructive feedback, recognize achievements, and empower your team.

Incorporating these phrases into your daily interactions will cultivate a powerfully motivated team poised for success.

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Amy Bracht is a coach and consultant with a knack for transforming high-level concepts into practical solutions. She crafts innovative strategies designed to guide individuals toward their full potential.