Today’s show will blow your mind, we are talking about supporting your team to say “no”. Whoa, this sounds scary but here’s the issue, how often are you and your team experiencing overwhelm? This is somewhat based on an article found in Harvard Business Review on managing overcommitment. So, we’re talking about this very topic as it relates to overwhelm and overwork too.
Now you may think that this is about saying “no” to the boss and that one of the main reasons people don’t say it is they will get fired. Reasonable. But here’s what I’ve discovered when listening to teams, they won’t say no to their peers or subordinates either. There is a “likability” factor and we don’t want to disappoint people. This is all coupled with the fact that we truly are hardwired for cooperation, until we get overwhelmed!
Here are three categories I’ve seen when people won’t say no. One, is when a project is failing-no feedback is shared. Two, is when others aren’t meeting timelines and it’s creating a back log of tasks. Three, no one recognizes how much work each person could be responsible for at any one time. If you’re a leader who likes to say, ‘oh, so and so can get that to you’, you have no idea what “so and so” has on their plate! Really these boil down to the freedom you create on a team to give feedback as well as to the culture that is being created about agreements and requests.
So how do we do it? Before assigning a project, ask for input. What will make it go well, what will make it fail? When does the team feel they will know enough to say, “pull the plug”? Create an environment in which as many things as possible become a negotiation and lives by agreement versus “edicts”. There is also the idea of “no, and”. Here more about that approach in one of our previous shows right here.
How does saying no at work, work for you?