Monday, January 10, 2011

Is Yes, the only thing you know how to say?

We've all been in a meeting or brief where our leader or leaders announce their latest and greatest idea. There's an uneasy silence at first, with everyone looking at each other. Then the big question is asked, "Are you ready to execute?" A resounding, "Yes" erupts from the group. If you’d like to learn why you’re a yes man/woman read on…

Everyone in the room knows it's the dumbest idea they've ever heard, so why don't you tell them? There are a few reasons, let’s go over them:
  •  The leader/Leadership has performed public executions in the past. We’ve all witnessed it at one time or another. Someone does muster the courage to raise a hand and ask or tell the Leadership why the idea is bad. The Leadership then promptly lops off their head, in a, “How dare you challenge me.” Response. There are those in Leadership that feel that their proclamations are without flaw or error. We tend to reinforce that belief every time they make announcements and we blindly follow along.
  • You don’t want to be seen as a whiner. There goes Joe (no offense to the Joe's reading this) again we think, why does he have to whine and complain about everything? Joe’s problem is just that, he whines and complains about everything. The Joe’s of the world don’t come up with solutions, just problems. So, over time everyone just stops listening to Joe. That’s why if you don’t want to fall into the “Joe” category, don’t just bring up the problem, ensure you have a solution as well. That way, you avoid being a whiner.
  • You don’t want to be seen as stirring the pot. The Navy is a military organization, many have the opinion that if you challenge the Leadership that you are being disrespectful or insubordinate. ( I will say that the Navy is moving into more open leadership styles as we adapt to changes in society.) The one thing that I was always taught and what I teach my people is that delivery is everything when speaking with others. Especially when it comes to questioning a superior’s point of view. For example, “That’s a stupid idea!” doesn't nearly come across as well as, “I understand why you want to implement this change, did you take into consideration…” Now, I certainly cannot go into every different type of situation or conversation you may have with your peers or boss. Just understand that conflict is healthy when done in a respectful manner and when done in the proper place. (Not in the middle of the office in front of everyone)
  •  You’re afraid it might affect future promotions. This is the one that probably annoys me more than any other in this list. As a leader, you are in your position of trust to take care of your people, along with the company’s mission. If the higher ups are making a decision that will directly impact your people in a negative way and it’s a bad idea on top of that. You need to speak up. Don’t just sit there and allow your people to be affected without bringing up your concerns and solutions on how it could be done better. I believe that even if you are not successful in changing the outcome, everyone will at least respect you for speaking up.
I hope this causes you to pause before blindly going along with the crowd next time a bad idea is being introduced. I hope it gives you the courage to step-up and speak out. When done properly, I believe you will gain respect and influence among your peers and superiors.

I’m sure that you have other things that could be added to this list. Please do, let me know what other things you have seen that causes people to always say, “Yes” 


Noah said...

This is a very relevant topic, but also a great reminder to those of us who work with others. We too must remember to value the input of those who come to us.

When I have been put in those situations (the head chopping ones, personal or private), I try to preface my statement with something like: There is great value in the direction this headed and I really want to see your goals accomplished. How can we prepare for this possible obstacle...

"A soft answer turneth away wrath!"

Thanks for the great post!

Gregory Farley said...

Noah, I really like your statement. As you point out, it's all in the delivery when speaking to peers or superiors. You also pointed out another great truth, to value others point of view. Sometimes, when it's the people that are under us coming to us we forget to give them the vibe that we do appreciate their input. Thank you for you comment and time, you are appreciated. Greg

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