10 common things bosses say and what they really mean

Susanna Kahr

It goes without saying that it’s not always easy to be a boss. To avoid awkward situations, managers often resort to making empty promises or using some very over-used phrases. The good news is, we’ve found the 10 most common things they say, and we’re here to tell you what they really mean.

“It’s just not possible to give you a raise right now”

In most cases this comes with a classic excuse. One version of this is “I would really like to give you a raise, but…” So if you hear either one of these, make sure to ask for a concrete reason. Is your company in difficult times right now? Or is your manager trying to get your raise approved? This puts your boss into a position of having to explain properly, and this will likely give you a second chance.

“We’ve always done it like that”

Are you always coming up with suggestions only for your boss to shut them down without discussion? This expression is normally used by managers in an attempt to keep everything just the way it is. If you want to bring some fresh air into your company, your manager should support you, or at the very least explain why your suggestion wasn’t taken seriously. The best way to deal with this is to take it in your stride and show your management team that you don’t give up easily.

“In the future we want to be more results-oriented and improve performance”

This can be translated as – you can expect to work a lot from now on, but you don’t expected to be paid anymore for it. All of the innovative project will take a backseat, creative coffee breaks will be taken away and surprise, surprise – the numbers still won’t add up at the end. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but often management uses this, and other excuses, to say that they want more out of their employees, and that certain goals can only be achieved by, you guessed it, yet more hours of work.

“Overtime is not the norm here”

The small disclaimer being – unless you want a promotion. Why else do we continue to put in those hours of work well after our normal working day has ended? Well, unfortunately, the number of overtime hours you do is still seen as an indicator of your performance and motivation for some management teams. But, we say that you should say no to overtime and we’ve even made a list of the best ways to say no and just relax instead, check it out.

“At the moment, you can be happy that you even have a job”

Quite honestly, no manager should ever let this sentence come out of their mouth. You didn’t get this job because of some accident, you got it because you’re good at what you do and your boss should appreciate that! The sole purpose for this line is to strike fear into you and your colleagues, so make sure to show that you’re not intimidated.

“Stick at it, I have faith in your abilities”

Are you stuck in a vicious cycle of endless deadlines one after the other and a to-do list that never seems to end? In these situations you can be sure that your managers will try to motivate you and your colleagues with phrases like this to encourage you to keep going. That’s why they also like to say “I know the workload is a lot right now, but …” And in reality this really means, “I don’t care how you do it. The main thing is that it all gets done.”

“Thanks for your input, I’ll keep your suggestion in mind”

This doesn’t sound that bad, right? But in reality, what this really means is: Thank you for your suggestion, but we absolutely will not consider it. In this situation, it makes sense to follow up with your manager and ask them what they have against implementing your idea? If they can’t be convinced then ask yourself who you need to talk to instead? If you’re really behind your idea, stick with it and let everyone know.

“We have to outsource certain processes for strategic reasons.”

Of course, it goes without saying that there can’t always be experts for everything in house. But this phrase could also mean that certain tasks are being outsourced to cut jobs in your company. Just make sure to ask about the situation before you start panicking. Ask your managers which tasks are being outsourced and why? If there’s nothing to worry about, your boss will be happy to answer your questions.

“Just go as far as possible with it.”

We all know what it’s like to get inundated with deadlines. But, when your manager says this whilst setting you a new task, it’s usually for a very specific reason. Whilst at first it might seem to be a way to minimize pressure, it usually does the opposite. Our managers should be motivating us to “do our best work” and this phrase just seems to say “just do something.” We’d be wary of it, especially as it’s hard to know what’s expected of you, so ask for binding deadlines and work towards those instead.

“You should see this as an opportunity.”

When you hear this phrase, there is usually a big change right around the corner. And because change is never easy, this phrase almost sounds alright. But don’t be taken in by empty statements. Instead, make sure to discuss what’s going on with your manager, ask them what changes can you expect to see in the future and how these will affect you and your colleagues. And who knows, maybe there will be a big opportunity for you soon.

 

These bullshit phrases have one thing in common – they don’t sound that bad at first because they sound quite positive. But beware, looks can deceive. Our tip is to not shy away from those difficult conversations, make sure to ask your manager about everything you’re concerned about. After all, every good employer should be able to communicate openly and transparently.

 

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Have you been to a job interview recently where your potential employer was loose with the truth? Check out our list of common lies that HR like to tell you and what they really mean!

 

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