10 Things Founders Should Never Say in Company Meetings

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the heat of an important moment. But that’s exactly when it’s most critical to remain composed and think through what you’re about to say before you say it — especially when it’s in front of all your employees during a company meeting.

Their best answers are below:

1. We Can’t Do It
Derek CapoThis statement is dangerous in a meeting because it can demonstrate to other team members the limitations of their team and how other competitors may end up beating them when it comes to that new product or service.
Derek Capo, Next Step China
2. Shh!
Vinny AntonioEveryone in the room knows you are in charge — your voice will be heard. Give them an opportunity to chime in; try to never stymie the creative process. If the team gets way off track, reel them back in with a follow-up to the original point.
Vinny Antonio, Victory Marketing Agency
3. What’s Wrong With You?
Kelly AzevedoTelling employees there’s something wrong with them cuts to the core of their fundamental value. It communicates that you’ve lost all faith in their abilities and ruins your relationship. Even worse, other team members hearing you will be afraid to stand up and speak up in fear of public humiliation and criticism.
4. You’ve Disappointed Me
Danny WongThe more accurate statement is probably, “I’m disappointed in myself.” Most failures in a startup can be attributed to the failures of a founder. As a founder, you’re enabled to make a difference in your business — you’re responsible for hiring the right people, motivating them and firing them when it’s no longer a good fit. You shouldn’t blame anyone but yourself — especially in a meeting.
Danny Wong, Blank Label
5. You’re Fired
Grant GordonLesson learned: never throw out an employee heckler or fire someone on the spot. Always praise people collectively, but deal with conflict individually. Doing it in a group setting sucks all the energy out of the room and crushes morale.
Grant Gordon, Solomon Consulting Group
6. I’m Afraid
Marcos CorderoAny statement from the founder that begins with those two words has no place in an office-wide meeting. It doesn’t matter if it’s followed by “of clowns” or “we’re going to fall short this year.” The moment a founder shows fear, it spreads. (Well, the “clowns” thing might be OK if the context is right.)
Marcos Cordero, GradSave, LLC
7. Profits Are Down
Andrew SchrageThere are other ways to make this announcement more effectively. You can say that company objectives weren’t met, or there is still a lot of work to be done. Don’t drag your team down with negative numbers.
Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
8. That’s Not a Good Idea
Nicolas GremionAlthough it may very well be a bad idea, in a startup you want creativity to flourish. Some ideas may not be great, but you don’t want to kill the inventive spirit by putting people down. Instead, say, “It might be difficult because of X.” Or say, “Yes, but did you think about Y…” and move on. You want people to keep pitching because you never know where the next gem may come from.
Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net
9. You Can All Be Replaced
Maren HoganThis was something that I actually had a manger say to her team during a meeting. We were all told we were replaceable and that the company did not need us. She was trying to get us to step up our game, but she completely killed morale and lost trust in all of us. It was very shortly after that each member either quit or was fired.
Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media
10. Anything Less Than Transparent
Matt ehrlichmanFounders aren’t immune to failures or disappointments. In business, things are constantly changing and evolving, and there are going to be times that things don’t work out how you wanted. Being transparent with your employees helps build trust and also allows everyone to be in the know with what is going on in the business.
Matt Ehrlichman, Porch
Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

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