• Why It’s Important to Say No.

    Why It’s Important to Say No.

    Posted 27/09/2012 By in GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR PEOPLE, MANAGEMENT With | No Comments

    Do you find yourself taking on more than you can handle?  Have you ever agreed to a request only to regret it shortly after?  Are things sitting in your proverbial ‘in-tray’ that yo just never get too?

    If you’ve answered yes, you’re in the same boat as about 85% of the managers I’ve worked with.  So relax, you’re normal.  However you DO need to do something about it and one of the critical ingredients in your management pantry needs to be the ability to say ‘No’.  

    There are a raft of reasons why most of us have difficulty in saying no that range from not feeling like we have permission all the way through to the task or request being something we actually want to do.  Irrespective of the reason, taking on more than you can handle, or taking on someone else’s problem is a destructive behaviour that affects the whole team AND your reputation.

    Time Mgt as a concept (getting more done in your day) is passe.  In an ever increasingly busy world, Priority Mgt (getting the right things done) has emerged as a fat better set of skills.  Part of that skill set is being able to say no.

    Saying no requires courage and it also requires a clear idea about the potential consequences of saying yes.  Ie. what won’t get done if you take on this new piece of work.  If you’re at capacity, you’re at capacity.  Take on too much and you start under-delivering and letting people down…. OR, like many managers, you will try to squeeze more hours into the day, stay longer, work harder and take work home.  Now its affecting your vitality, and those nearest and dearest to you.  I heard a great analogy to describe Stephen Covey’s First things First model.  ”You spend your time fighting off alligators instead of draining the swamp”.

    Saying no also requires that you DO deliver on the things you say yes too. The premise behind my message is that actions speak louder than words.  Do what you say you’re going to do and your reputation grows.  Saying yes all the time to keep people happy and not delivering…. you get the wrong reputation.

    Now, enough of the finger wagging.  Here’s a simple technique I’ve coached literally 100′s of managers in it’s use to great effect.




    In the face of a request, be it from your Boss, a colleague or a staff member, give yourself some space (time) to consider the implications.  Try “Do you mind if I have a few minutes to think about this?” or “Sounds great Boss, I’ll chew it over for a few minutes and come back to you with any questions.”  Often, it’s the ‘on the spot’ nature of requests that get us into trouble.  You know, an employee makes a request and in the heat of the moment you feel like you can’t say no or you want to say yes…  And then regret it shortly after as you realise the implications and consequences.  Most of us require a few minutes to organise our thoughts, to mull over the reasons for and against saying yes and then getting to the point that we are comfortable either agreeing or denying that request.

    What about those sneaky requests that come in sideways or projects you might have some investment or interest in?  Wayne Bennet, a well known and very successful Australian rugby league coach, is known for immediately saying No to all requests for his time and energy.  He then thinks about the request and weighs it up against his existing priorities.  If he then decides to say yes to it, he’s totally committed and is aware of the implications of doing so.  If he remains against the request then the requester is fully aware and is able to search elsewhere.  They may not be happy, but at least they don’t leave thinking that someone has agreed to something that they then do poorly, or not at all.  In my mind that’s worse than just saying no in the first place.


    Management Coaching is a very powerful support mechanism for critical staff in your organisation.  Its flexibility and one on one nature reflect the wide array of challenges facing today’s managers and the diversity of the managers themselves. I am about to launch a comprehensive 12 month Mgt Coaching Program with key projects delivered by the manager each month across 12 competencies critical to management success.  



    Please help me to spread the word by sharing.

      Sean is an experienced coach, speaker and facilitator who is passionate about improving the relationship between people, their work and the organisations they work for. If you want to get the most out of your managers, supervisors and their teams and think that work can or should be a rewarding and enjoyable component of a productive and meaningful life it might be worth a chat.

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