Friday, November 09, 2018

Saying No to Your Employees
How many times have you submitted a proposal to a leader of your organization and not received a clear yes/no answer?  In far too many instances, hard-working employees come up with an original idea, put together a detailed proposal, and then never receive a direct response.  It seems as though the proposals disappear into a black hole.  Or, in many instances, leaders simply stall endlessly.  They respond that they will have to consult with others in the organization.   When pressed, they blame others in the organization for not responding to them in a timely manner.   Or, they ask for more information and analysis... repeatedly.   They never appear satisfied with the supporting evidence and analysis provided.  Often, in these cases, leaders don't want to proceed with the proposed course of action.  However, they don't want to say no either.  So, they stall endlessly by constantly demanding more information. 

Employees deserve clear yes/no answers in a timely fashion when they propose original ideas.  If the answer is no, they deserve a clear rationale for why the organization does not want to proceed with the proposed course of action.  If employees don't receive a clear and timely response, they will become disengaged.  Trust in leadership will decline.  The flow of creative new ideas will slow to a crawl.   

Why don't leaders provide clear responses in many cases?  They don't want to be unpopular, or they don't have the courage to explain why they are declining to endorse a particular proposal.   Or, they want to go in a different direction, but they aren't prepared to offer a strong, concise explanation for why that's the preferred course of action.   Sometimes, they genuinely need more information to make a sound decision.  In those cases, though, leaders need to be crystal clear about what data they would like to see, and what analysis they would like subordinates to perform.  They need to make it clear that they aren't simply sending employees on a wild goose chase.  

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