One group I’m in has an annual white elephant gift exchange, and we can expect one gag gift to be opened every year by an unsuspecting “victim”: a Mr. Wonderful doll. You pull the drawstring and he speaks sappy phrases that wives would love to hear their man say every day: “May I rub your feet after your long day?” or “No, let me do the cooking AND the dishes.”

Then I thought about what a wonderful boss might say at work to his/her employees to make their day:

  • “Thank you for putting in that extra effort as the deadline approached.”
  • “How would you like to spend more work time on your favorite project?”
  • “____is definitely one of your greatest strengths on our team.”
  • “Yes, family first! Flex your time and enjoy your kids’ activity.”
  • “Your professional development is vital. Sure, we’ll send you to that seminar.”
  • “How much budget do you need to make that happen?”
  • “Let me make the vision crystal-clear so you can visualize it.”
  • “Just stopping by. I’d like to learn more about what you’re working on and how I can help.”
  • “It looks like you are burning out a bit. Go ahead and leave early today and replenish.”
  • “Let’s all spend a day volunteering in the community together as a team.”
  • “Do tell. I’m listening.”

How many of phrases like these have you spoken to your team recently? Think about the intent behind each phrase and how it shows you value your people. Make them your own words, and speak them often. Watch the discretionary effort of the team skyrocket!

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