Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Empowering yes men to say no, part of Managing Employee Performance Problems (2013).
- As difficult as it might seem at times, as a leader you want good feedback from your team about what's going on with their work and how they feel about the job you're doing. Feedback that is honest and timely. Unfortunately, that's a lot more difficult to find than you might imagine. People perceive many reasons to filter and shape what they say in a way that makes the boss happy. Sometimes people do this so much and so well they're perceived by others negatively. In the past we have might have called them kiss ups, but today, we most often refer to them as "yes man." The joke is that when the boss says, "Hey guys, I'm thinking we should have lunch "at the steak house. What do you think?" Well the yes man quickly speaks up and says, "Yeah, it sounds good to me." Let's be clear, this tendency affects many types of decisions far more important than where to go to lunch.
Think about who to hire. Who to promote? What new software and other tools will adapt? Or changes to keep processes. All of these decisions have real implications, which is why the boss needs real opinions. Don't get me wrong, they don't want employees to argue with them all the time, but they do need the team to feel comfortable to speak up and be honest. Nonetheless, some bosses accept yes man. I mean let's be honest, leadership is hard. People don't always like the decisions you've made. Making a leadership role sometimes lonely place to be.
Having a person around always willing to tell you how smart you are, willing to praise your decisions, and willing to make you feel confident and smart feels good. Unfortunately it also messes with your head, and makes it difficult to see reality. Any manager worth their pay does not support yes man behavior. They know that affirmative, supportive or complimentary comments they received should be earned. They know that feedback provided by "yes man" is often distorted. And they know that if others watch them happily accept unearned affirmation after unearned affirmation people will lose respect for them.
In addition, one of your biggest goals is to develop your team. The yes man needs to know how he's being perceived and how some behaviors at work will build a reputation while others can easily harm their reputation. So let's say you've got a yes man named "Scott." You're the new leader of the team, and you inherited Scott from another boss who apparently loved yes man. After a month or two of Scott telling you only glowing positive affirmations, you know you have to speak to him. Assuming his performance has been good, there's no reason to think about an intervention.
He just needs a little coaching, and you should be casual about it. Pull him aside and say something like this, "Scott, I have to tell you. "I love the fact you seemed to always have my back. "And as far that I can tell, "you always have a positive attitude. "But I actually want something else from you too. "You see I need all of you present and active "when you're talking to me. "That includes the times you like "what I'm saying, "and the times you want to be a little more critical, "or maybe share a perspective I haven't "even thought of. "It's clear to me you've not been comfortable "speaking up, "and I think you should be.
"In fact, I actually expect it. Okay? "I hope I continue to get your support, "but I don't think I'm really doing my job "if you don't feel okay about speaking up "with your own views. "I know that long term, "you aspire to be promoted into leadership. "So I want you to know that figuring out "how to engage a critical conversation "and engage a little debate "is a very needed skill in a leadership role. "How does that sound to you?" Then listen to what Scott says, and when he pauses, politely question one thing he just said, and end your criticism by telling him that you were just doing that to show him exactly what you're talking about, principal critical comments as a part of healthy discussion at work.
Do yourself a favor the next time you realized that you've got a yes man working for you. Pull them aside and have that conversation. You'll be helping yourself and the yes man, and the team will respect you both as the level of honesty and candor within the team increases.
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- Determining the appropriate intervention
- Defusing charged conversations
- Refocusing slackers
- Getting employees to show up on time
- Redirecting habitual complainers
- Engaging employees that always resist change
- Standing up to bullies
- Encouraging employees that can't handle feedback
- Helping people with personal problems
- Dealing with gossips
- Knowing when to say goodbye to an employee<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.