Yes Man – No Thanks

We’ve all seen the person who agrees with the boss, no matter what’s going on.  We roll our eyes and silently (or openly) mock their behavior.  Given that we see through this behavior why do they still opo up in every organization?  There are bosses who love the unconditional support for all their ideas.  However, the great bosses of the world know these folks are poison to the team.

These Yes Men are poison for the following reasons:

  1. False Security.  The positive support leads the boss to believing their ideas are wonderful and without flaws.  This may be totally wrong and blinds people to potential risks.
  2. Stifles Innovation.  If the boss buys into the Yes Man’s support then they may stop looking for new ideas from the team.  Too much of this and the innovation of the team will dry up.
  3. Favoritism.  When the boss keeps hearing what he wants to hear from the Yes Man he may gravitate that direction.  This can leave other team members out in the cold.   

If you find someone like this on your team you need to nip the behavior in the bud.  It’s highly likely somewhere in their past they were rewarded for this behavior so they will naturally go there again.  Here are a few tips for handling this behavior:

  1. Ask for Ideas.  Instead of accepting the Yes Man’s support, ask everyone on the team to come up with one idea for improvement.  Hold them accountable.  Push for outside the box thinking.
  2. Promote Others’ Ideas.  Instead of putting your ideas out there as best, let the team provide the idea for what should be done.  Using ideas generated from the team will stir creativity and engagement.
  3. Use Collaborative Decision Making.  Take the time to get input and ideas from all the involved people.  Get ideas out on the table and seek collaboration from the team.
  4. Analyze Risk Rigorously.  When evaluating all decisions; establish procedures for analyzing the risks associated with the decision.  By always looking at what can go wrong with an idea the team will generate better solutions.

By being proactive in getting the entire team involved in finding the best solutions and analyzing the risks, the Yes Man has no real place on the team and they either move on or change their ways.  In any case, you have a team that will seek innovation and strive for new ways of doing things.  This is a winning team.

photo from iStockPhoto.com

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Filed under Leadership, Team Building

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