Probably every leader wants to support his team by saying ‘Yes’, but a wise leader must be able to say ‘No’ to workers without shutting them off. If you are afraid of discouraging your staff, keep in mind that no one ever went broke by saying ‘No’ too often, as Harvey McKay would say. So, at least the financial matter won’t be an issue.
Here are 8 steps of learning to say “No” and stay a top performer of the team.
- Listen Carefully and Always Think Through
Sometimes the lack of understanding can make one accept hasty decisions. Before you agree to your team’s initiative or suggestion, think over those ideas and the consequences. Only after that your ‘No’ will seem a shrewd decision to the employees and will prove your competence.
- Take Time to Take Decisions
To show that you are listening to the team’s requests and taking them seriously, don’t rule on anything immediately. Time will help you work out the issue. When thinking over, imagine the outcome in case of the positive and negative answer. Perhaps you will even be able to come up with an alternative.
- Explore Other Options
If you feel like ‘No’ is already building up inside of you, take a step back and consider your team’s initial purpose. Understand what motivated them to make this request from you. Invite the personnel to a brainstorming session and find different options together. This way you will stand by your beliefs and will say ‘Yes’ to an alternative.
- Communicate with Your Team
Sometimes you have no other choice but say ‘No.’ Explain to them why you feel the way you do. Seeing how serious you have taken the situation, they will understand your judgment.
Unless your employees listen to the reason, ask them to support you with this specific matter. Elaborate why their way is wrong and how to make it right in the future. Accept the future possibility of the positive answer if some aspects change.
- Support Your Team’s Future Requests
Explain your team that if you refused the idea this time, it is OK for them to trust you in the future with other requests and concerns. Remind them that you work for the same company and you all want it to grow and develop. That’s why they are welcome to come to you with their ideas and projects and you will collaborate to make them work.
- Support Contributions and Contribute Yourself
Don’t just wait for the employees to come to you with their demands. Ask their opinions on different matters and help them increase their input to the company’s well-being. This way, all of your decisions and reactions, whether it is saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ will be received as considerate.
- Use the “No-Sandwich” Approach
If you have followed all the steps above precisely, you are now confident in stating your reason and defending your position. In order for the employees to feel positive about their contribution next time, declare your decision in a “no-sandwich”. First, acknowledge your gratitude for the employee’s participation. Then, justify your negative answer. Finally, praise and encourage further intention of bettering the working process.
- Always Have an Open Dialogue
As mentioned before, you can suggest your employees going back to their application later. This way they will see the business aspect of the matter and why now is not a good time to fulfill their demand. Also, you will inspire open discussions and negotiations, thus motivating them to progress and go forward.
Do not try to win everyone over. Be open to the suggestions of your people and, when there is such an opportunity, implement them. If they do not agree with you and in the end convince you of their rightness, support their ideas as you would like them to support yours.
Saying “No” is a tricky skill to learn. Many leaders fear to earn the bad reputation or the image of a poor headman. However, once having managed to refuse wisely you will earn people’s respect and esteem. Saying no can also help in your personal life, thus giving new-found freedom and alternative methods of problems solving.