Jane's latest thoughts about "Saying no ..."
"I have just read an extract from the Michael Clayton Book simply entitled “The Yes No Book”. It made me think about how many times as managers do you actually say no to something?
The word “no” is seen as being uncooperative, negative and unhelpful. I know that managers that I have coached and worked with in the past have actually had a fear of saying no. They would continually take on work even though they did not have the capacity to do it well. This ultimately led to strain and stress, not just on them but also on their teams. As the work very rarely, if ever, stays solely with the senior manager.
When we discussed and looked at why they did not say no it was wrapped up in not wanting to appear unhelpful or not wanting to seem as if they couldn’t cope. I have to say that this attitude pertained more to the women managers that I worked with than their male counterparts.
Michael Clayton has a new spin on the word no; he sees it at an acronym NO meaning Noble Objection, and as Michael says how can anything noble be negative. If you want to get more information about the book then I suggest you go onto the Michael Clayton website at www.mikeclayton.co.uk.
The main issue for me about the word no is how many managers are unnecessarily burdening themselves or their teams because they have not learnt the art of saying no, (another book I think). If you see saying no as being empowering and learn to use it in the right way then this is a small word with huge impact. It will let people understand your point of view more clearly and probably earn you a little ‘street cred’ or should I say ‘office cred’. One thing is for sure your team will be eternally grateful and they will also see you differently as a manager. I think the real art is ‘knowing’, when to use it and to not over-use the word. When all is said and done you don’t want to disempower or weaken the ‘Noble Objection’.
If you have a fear of saying no you might want to start off by softening the blow with “…not at the current time…” or “…we do not have the capacity at the moment…” I’m not sure if Michael Clayton would approve but at least it is a start. In my opinion, having worked with numerous managers from first line to senior levels, understanding how your yes/no decisions impact not just on you but also on your team will give you the insight into why using the noble objection is a skill that you should aim to master."