ArtofManaging“Don’t tell me what you’re doing. Tell me what you’ve stopped doing.” Peter Drucker

“No” is one of the most powerful and under-utilized terms in your management vocabulary. Here are ten situations where “No” might be the absolute right call.

10 Situations Where “No”  Might Just Save the Day:

 1. In strategy when the potential vector or investment is outside your competence and core strategy, no matter how potentially lucrative. If the strategy is broken, fix it, but don’t risk diluting your efforts chasing shiny objects.

2. When saying “yes” to a project creates a too many projects chasing too few resources situation. The project/resource imbalance is epidemic in most firms. Cut it out. Either find more resources or, follow Drucker’s advice and quit doing something else!

3. When you find yourself fighting your gut instinct on hiring someone. This is one situation where the gut is almost always right. The credentials, smiles and interviewing skills might be saying “yes,” but if the gut says “no,” listen to it!

 4. When someone suggests you cut quality to satisfy cost targets. There’s always a better way.

5. When someone asks you to “take off your (insert function) hat and put on your (insert function) hat.” Sorry, but what they’re really asking you to do is to suspend your common sense, put aside your experience-based judgment, lobotomize yourself and pursue a path that is wrong. This approach reflects pure management evil!

6. When the mantra coming from the team is, “…but, with just a little bit more time and money…  .” These more time and money pleas are indicators that you are blazing a path down the sunk cost trail. Quit throwing good cash after bad. The old cash is gone. It’s sunk. Call it.

 7. When a pending decision puts you on the uncomfortable side of an ethical dilemma. If it’s gray, say “No” and seek counsel. In that order. It’s called moral courage.

 8. When everyone in the group is nodding their head “yes” too quickly and too easily. Saying “No” is the last line of defense against group-think.

9. Whenever someone suggests outsourcing a customer facing function. Outsourcing customer service should be a crime punishable by prison time. Just say “No!”

10. When restructuring is suggested as a fix to an organization’s problems without consideration of the impact it will have on customers. It’s amazing how easy it is to lose track of what counts when the turf battles begin.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

It’s hard to say “no.” We often associate “yes” with right and good. Too often, “yes” is the weak response. It’s time to practice putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth and emphasize the N in this powerful and value saving and creating word, “No!”

More Professional Development Reads from Art Petty:book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

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