Sometimes Your Boss Needs You to Say No!

No matter what field you are in, there may be times when you feel like your boss is asking too much of you, or you may feel like the company leadership is leading you in the wrong direction. During those times, it’s easy to get caught up in the thoughts in your head:

  • “I’ve got so much on my plate already!”
  • “My manager doesn’t seem to understand how swamped we all are!”
  • “That project is not as important right now as the exec seems to think it is.”
  • “It’s a good idea, but there is a better way.”
  • “I would love to just say NO!”

You should never stop there. When this happens, you should go ahead and say “NO!

Sure, it feels risky to say “no” to your boss. They might not take it so well. They might say, “I don’t care, just get it done.” Or, they might be sneakier and say something like,” I trust you completely. I know you’ll find a way!”

And, of course,  sometimes there are those managers who are too insecure to be able to hear a productive “no” without feeling personally threatened. Too bad for them…and the organizations that keep them.

A VHUL (Very High Up Leader) once told a group of emerging leaders, “Please don’t assume I know what’s going on! I only know if you tell me.” He meant it.

And yet, so many of us do not tell our leaders how we feel. We do not tell them when we know something should not be done, at all, ever. We do not tell them when something should not be done now. And we do not tell them when something should not be done that way!

We all know the consequences to our organizations of people not speaking up when their experience and perspective tell them something is wrong. You have undoubtedly lived those consequences yourself:

  • We get disconnected from the mission because priorities become slippery and ever changing.
  • Human (and other) resources are ineffectively allocated, which means some significant portion of the organization has way too much to do, or too little to do it with, and that leads to burnout and turnover.
  • Process and methodology become misplaced and/or misapplied, which wastes time going down “wrong roads”, and puts important time lines and check points at risk, hurting our position in the market.

Fill in the rest of the list with examples of your own, please. If you still have doubts now, you will likely convince yourself by the end of the list that there really are times it is important to say “NO”.

Keep in mind that if you are thinking “NO!”, there are probably others of your peers thinking it, too. Find them. Share your productive thinking and analysis. Make your collective voice bigger, smarter, and stronger. Then, you won’t be as afraid to make that voice heard.

Join us right here on June 17th to learn about the three types of “no” and when to use each one.