Advertisement

Why Managers Should Try Saying 'Yes' More Often05:47
Download

Play
Managers have many reasons to say “no” to employees, but it can be difficult to work for someone who always says “no” to new ideas. (Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)
Managers have many reasons to say “no” to employees, but it can be difficult to work for someone who always says “no” to new ideas. (Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)
This article is more than 4 years old.

Managers have many reasons to say "no" to employees, but it can be difficult to work for someone who always says "no" to new ideas.

Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson talks with author and employee engagement expert David Sturt about why saying "yes" more often might be better for business.

Interview Highlights: David Sturt

On why managers don't say 'yes' more often

"I think part of it is because they have usually spent quite a bit of time try to get their processes working — they're on the hook for delivering results and delivering a certain level of quality. So when employees come to them with new ideas or things they want to try, that's part of the natural thing that happens to managers is to protect the current processes, to protect the way things have been done to ensure some level of quality or making good on the commitments they've made."

On the downside of not saying 'yes'

"I think it's a balance. If you focus primarily on saying 'no' and shutting down those new ideas, there's some real downsides to that. One, after a while, your team members are not going to keep coming with new ideas, and they'll start to believing you as a leader really aren't into progress, aren't into innovation, and it hurts not only their ability to think innovatively but even their engagement if they feel like, 'Hey, I'm just here to do the work that's been required of me,' and they sort of turn their brain off, they turn their creative energy off. And I think that ends up hurting teams. I think you have to be really really careful about what you say 'no' to."

On the reasons behind not saying 'yes' more often

"In those early days, as a start-up, you're saying 'yes' to all kinds of things. You'e trying to fill in a vision of doing something that hasn't been done before. So you're dealing with a lot of uncertainty; you're taking risks. It's just sort of baked in to the process of young early start-up companies. Then what happens is it's an unintended consequence you get this almost calcification, this rigidity that starts setting in as they formulate and plan out their work processes and streamline their operations. And then it shuts out some of that innovative fresh thinking and it can be damaging."

On the 'culture of compliance'

"I think years ago the dominant management philosophy... was more of, what I would call, a 'culture of compliance.' It was trying to limit the variation in the work processes and try to streamline and drive efficiency gains. And do these kind of things that tend to, if you're not careful, prohibit some experimentation and some new thinking and some trying of new ways of doing things. And I see now all over the world, I was just in India recently, and seeing them pursuing hard this issue of, 'How do we create new value?' Which means you've got to approach your work with a slightly different mindset, and think about saying 'yes' a lot more than you said no in the past."

Guest

David Sturt, executive vice president at O.C. Tanner and the author of "Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love." He tweets @david_sturt.

This article was originally published on September 14, 2016.

This segment aired on September 14, 2016.

Advertisement

Advertisement