The downside of being a yes man

There is a reason why a certain person in the workplace is badged a ‘yes man’. He plays safe, does as he is asked, is the safest pair of hands and is generally unthreatening and unassuming.

He may say yes because he wants an easy life, can handle the workload or because he is ill-equipped to challenge every request. And there is a compelling argument that every business needs enough ‘yes men’ to ensure things get done.

But saying no can sometimes have a powerful, liberating and motivating effect. ‘No’ can have a number of caveats attached but in essence means ‘I’m focusing on a more important task’, or  ‘I’m prioritising this task over the one you want to assign me’, or ‘What I need to do now has more significance to the business’.

It falls to you to manage your workload, your contribution to the business, your self motivation, and, above all, your credibility. There is nothing wrong with justifying focus in one area over another, and smart managers will appreciate your candour and foresight if you can offer rationale for your task management.

Image: BBC archives

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