Say 'Yes'! Yes to learning Korean, yes to wild scooter-adventures. Say yes to life! As crazy as Jim Carrey's life in "Yes Man!" gets when deciding to say 'Yes' whenever possible, this unfortunately does not reflect reality. In addition, this lifestyle does not reflect the personality of a "Yea-sayer" in business at all. But what is a Yea-sayer? Does he/she exist after all? Let's start at the beginning. In the following blog, we would like to briefly sum up our thoughts on Yea-sayers in business. The original interview can be read here.
Before we begin, let's try to think of someone, who can be described as a Yeasayer...
Could you think of someone? Which characteristics are you thinking of?
How do I know that somebody is a Yea-sayer? Does the typical Yea-sayer even exist? If so, then how would I identify him/her in my company?
First of all, we have to ask ourselves what characteristics are typical for this personality. Oddly, a person who often says and explicitely articulates "Yes" is in general not a typical Yea-sayer as far as business-life is concerned. It is the person who says nothing at all. Some of you may or may not know co-workers who never say anything in business meetings. Them being silent is what is often interpreted as confirmation, which in turn can lead to misunderstandings and problems. To identify such traits, one must be able to reflect all kinds of work relations. In detail, one could ask himself / herself:
- Are there co-workers, with whom I never discuss anything at all? If so, how come?
- Do I prefer some people when looking for confirmation?
- Is there someone who makes it more difficult for me to make decisions?
These questions could be indicative for a yea-saying behavior.
Why and how does an employee become a Yea-sayer? Does the manager have influence on the development or is this behavior learned from early age on?
One must probably argue with psychological knowledge in order to answer this question. As far as experience goes, it shows us a behavioristic scheme. For example: Whenever an employee learns that he/she is successfull with a certain behaviour, it will reinforce itself automatically. The question is how is success defined. For some people it is being acknowledged by their manager. Others try to get through the workday with as less stress as possible. Especially for the second group of people remaining silent is one hell of a strategy...
We also notice that developing a Yea-saying characteristic is always an interaction and does not only emerges from the personality itself. However, if we identify a working atmosphere in which co-workers instantly confirm everything instead of discussing various alternatives to come to a more thought-through and sophisticated solution, a development may be actively encouraged, without everyone knowing.
As a manager, how do I encourage my employees to think more actively?
Alright. Rule No. 1: Do NOT answer every question yourself! Or at least not immediately. This is one of the simplest yet most difficult tips managers get. Of course one must be able to differentiate. A manager should be able to answer high priority cases decisively. But sometimes, it is not necessary. Let's take a look at a rudimental example:
Question: Hey boss, what should I do now, A or B?
Answer: Good question! Try to think about the relevant aspects for this decision? You may want to consider aspect X and Y.
The manager should be able to communicate effectively. Preferably in a way that cognitive interaction can develop. That does not have to be enforced by massive praise and compliments. But under no circumstances should the manager start to disfavor the opinions of the employee. This will kill every effort that has been made on encouraging interactive behavior.More useful strategies are:
- to delegate effectively
- to structure fields of responsibility
- ask and approach employees individually. And wait for input, feedback, answers. Wait. Wait. Wait. If you think the pause is getting awkward, then wait a little more. If you give in, the person will immediately learn again that remaining silent will get them out of the situation.
So, what should be remembered when talking about Yea-Sayers?
- Saying "Yes" does not automatically mean that someone is a Yea-sayer. It is worse if somebody remains silent all the time.
- Pay attention to the behavior of your co-workers and employees. Observe the behavior they tend to learn.
- You can encourage the ability to think. It is not always the easiest, but, in the long run, certainly the most productive
We did a short paper (German) on how you can train your perception in order to identify possible problems within your company more easily. Just click the blue button below! For more detailed information you can contact us at any time.
Let´s improwe together!