Abundant Optimism

Helping people regain and keep an optimistic outlook in challenging circumstances and improve their creativity, mind, and skills.

Donít Be the King With No Clothes!

By Tamara Martfeld

Given that the last article was about building a wardrobe, I could not resist that title for this article!

One of the worst things anyone can do, in my opinion, is encourage ďyes menĒ. Iím sorry, but I donít know a gender neutral phrase for yes men, but they are both male and female. Those who encourage yes men tend to be managers as they are in a position of power. (For those who do not know what a yes man is, it is the person who always agrees with other people, especially the boss. This person appears to have no ability to have an original thought.)

Managers who encourage yes men are usually poor managers. These managers want only to be told how good their ideas are. The idea may be for something not needed, be inefficient, be wasteful, or be duplicating efforts, but they donít care. It is their idea and it must be done.

For example, the manager might decide that the way to handle a file system which is out of control is to just toss everything. This manger will not want to hear that some of the items in the files are required by law to be kept until a specified time in the future. Those who know the requirement must walk on egg shells, risk their careers, or find ways around the order. Is this really the best way to conduct business?

This is just like the story of the King With No Clothes. He was vain and all but one person was afraid to speak the truth. Like the King With No Clothes, managers who encourage yes men tend to eventually look like fools.

What is the alternative? The opposite, of course. Good managers encourage staff to provide honest feedback and accept that feedback with grace. They surround themselves with people who have alternate ideas and they listen to those ideas. When the idea of a subordinate fails, they do not punish that subordinate. Instead, they look for the lessons which can come from the failure and move on. That same subordinate may well come up with a fantastic idea in the future, and how they were treated when they failed will determine whether that idea is ever given to the manager.

Good managers know that they cannot fix something if they do not know what is wrong. They thank those who bring issues to their attention so that the issues can be addressed before they become huge problems. I know of a situation where managers did not want to listen to the employees about a given issue. The business was later embarrassed nation-wide with a news story about the issue and then had to scramble to address it while being put under a microscope. Unfortunately, the managers in that location are still encouraging yes men and the situation is likely to repeat itself.

What kind of manager are you? Do you only want to hear that you are right, or do you encourage your staff to bring their ideas to the table? Do you want the problem in your office to go on without your knowledge until a major news corporation finds out about it, or do you want to know about the problem in advance so that you can fix it before others find out, or before it grows into significant problems? Remember, there are at least two solutions to every problem. Are you sure yours is the best?

Are you the King With No Clothes, or are you well dressed?

Again, have a wonderful and abundantly optimistic life!