Friday, May 23, 2008

Project Stand Lessons from my daughter - Power and Sweetness of "NO"

Once in professional life, there would be at least one mentor required who comes in as an "Angel" exhorting you to practice saying "NO".

If you are like me, you would detest the fact that it is quite opposite to what parents teach - Saying No to people is rude and at times a sign of weakness or failure. Well, you will also like the perception that your friends, peers and most of all your bosses detest openly with people who stop work by saying "NO" when something extra comes their way or there is an unbalanced load of work on some one else. You get the air that you are not one of them and are respected for the "attitude"!

Are you one of them ? Well, both profiles are a manager's nightmare. It is important to make the "YES worker" and "NO worker" normalize their stances. My tough stance as manager is always manifested for both these profiles.

Why "YES worker" needs to be normalized - Wouldn't such resource earn good reputation for the manager? Almost Yes in a myopic view. Consider this:

A senior manager sees the "YES worker" working late many times. When there are no pressing things and things are going smooth, have not you heard the senior manager commenting in meetings that resources need to be taken care better, there should be more balanced distribution of work and that stress needs to be addressed as the pressing issue ? Would the same response come when an entire team is genuinely working to meet stringent fires and there are escalations looming large threatening the senior manager's time? In effect, the "Yes worker" suddenly introduces "Stress" on the entire system and team along with skewed balance of work. Don't they divert your energy from more productive and lovable things to do in the day ?

Well then "NO worker" must balance the equation rite ? Almost No except if you develop the knack of saying "No" my daughter way :)

My daughter starts any request with "Na na" - her vocabulary for saying "No" (refresh with this post - Closed vocabulary set). However the timing and sweetness is to make you request more with valid reasoning rather pampering. Once the reasoning is valid, she again tries to divert attention by acting a little "snob". Crying or asking for something that was promised last night.

Once you get her last demand, she gleefully accepts the request. So what great lesson does that teach?

1. Always use "No please" together for more information.

2. Empathize your earlier situation to see if there is recognition for your past work

3. Become a "YES worker" immediately on accede of request.

Why you should not say "Yes" with every request. Well my daughter learnt from her mom, that accepting a compromise that she is not fully convinced or giving in without a murmur sets the expectation every time from the time the implicit obedience is given. It becomes a norm from that time onwards. It becomes routine and change always is painful - even if a child wants to change it.

Hence say "No Please", but work for the manager who empathizes the situation and requests you for that extra work the organization or a earlier goof up requires now to be solved. At the end "working" is the only way to live up to your reputation.

You end up stronger and powerful with this strategy. Isn't it ?

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