What NOT to say to Your Team

Leadership Development


Whether you’ve been managing for a while or if you’re new to the job, there are a number of topics that you should keep in mind while dealing with your employees. Experienced managers often assume they’ve been around the block and know what’s ok and what isn’t, but everyone can use a reminder sometimes. An awful lot of trouble can be avoided by following the advice below.

Keep It Professional

This is not nearly as tricky as it seems for some managers. Let’s say an employee – a member of your team tells you something personal about their home life. Maybe they need to unload on someone and they chose to trust you. Maybe they are telling you along with everyone else they work with. It doesn’t matter.

Manager covering her mouth.

The correct path is the same regardless. You keep it to yourself and never mention it to anyone. If you are told something in confidence, you don’t know who else knows. You can’t risk talking to anyone else about it.

If they call in sick, or miss time, or are having difficulties at home that are affecting work, you cannot throw it in their face. Their personal time is their personal time. Maybe they told you out of a sense of duty, or professional courtesy – whatever the case, it goes in the vault and stays there.

Praise in Public vs. Reprimand in Private

It should go without saying, but you never, ever, ever reprimand someone if front of their peers. It can embarrass or humiliate them and will no doubt make you look bad as well. Imagine how you would feel if your boss were to chastise you in front of your peers. How would you feel about it?

If a subordinate chooses to defy you publicly, immediately get them into a private area to discuss the problem. Screaming at each other while everyone is watching is bad for everyone.

The only possible exception is if you need a witness for legal purposes. In that case, you should be behind closed doors, and the witness should at least be another member of management.


Criticizing the Boss

It may be tempting at times to grumble to your team about your boss. However, even if you disagree with decisions and policies set forth by upper management, it does you no good to disparage them. It will only serve to aggravate your employees further and will encourage a culture of complaining.

If you don’t have enough respect for upper management to keep your opinions to yourself, your team will surely treat you in the same fashion. And once the whiners get started, good luck putting a stop to it.

Additionally, complaining can also serve to undermine your authority. The more you whine about the things that aren’t going right because of your superiors, the more your team will realize how little voice you have. They will recognize that your opinion doesn’t count for much and will eventually go around you to get things accomplished.

Never Gossip!

You will often find yourself in a position to know more about people than you’re used to. One of the most important facets of management is learning how to zip it. If you want your team to trust you and feel comfortable coming to you with their problems, you absolutely cannot talk about it with your subordinates.

Discussing your team’s issues with your boss is one thing, but discussing anything private must be done with great discretion. You may think that your great friend who happens to work for you can be trusted… but you’d be wrong. If you aren’t sure if you should share knowledge with someone that works for you, you probably should keep it to yourself.

Your boss may not know this rule and will give you sensitive information that you cannot repeat to others. This is an opportunity for you to shine and show your boss that you can be trusted.