TL:DR: It’s fine to hire a “yes man.” It’s better for everyone if we all understand we’re looking for a “yes man” going in.
“I’m going to text the client right now,” I said.
“Why?” asked Vi.
*I pause. Think.* “Yeah, you’re right. We should finish what we are doing.
“I think I should call Steph into this meeting,” I said.
“Katie, no, that’s not on the agenda and it won’t help,” said Vi.
“Yeah, ok. Let’s keep going.”
Vi has been working with me for about two months.
And all day long, one of their main functions is to keep me in my lane. To prevent me from grabbing the wheel when someone else is driving and running myself and my entire company off the road.
Their job is to constantly tell me, “No.”
And they’re good at it.
Do you have somebody who can and will tell you no when you’re about to march right off a cliff? I hope so.
Experts, consultants, staff who can and will say no when no is needed so that my business can grow in the right way, so I don’t make tragic mistakes, are the most valuable people I’ll ever find.
Saying “no” is scary and takes expertise in the task at hand.
Saying “no” requires extreme confidencethat saying “yes” will do harm.
Saying “no” requires a provider to make the best recommendation for the client they’re advising even when the stakes are high and the reaction to “no” is unpredictable.
Making room for “no”
Living in the age of digital means that, in order to grow, most of us have to hire and manage or work with people with specialities and knowledge that we lack.
Those people will tell us “no” a lot. That’s a weird feeling if you’re used to just hearing, “yes.” In my case, if I don’t know a lot about the specialty I have hired for, I know that I ask for things that aren’t a good idea.
And someone has to tell me “no.”
I know *I’ve* had to choke back the words, “BUT I’M PAYING YOU. JUST DO IT” on more than one occasion.
Here’s how I make room for “no,” and feel confident that I’m getting a good, well-informed “no” rather than any kind of bratty, “I just ain’t doin’ it “no.”
1. Decide if I’m willing to hear the word, “no,” from people you hire and work with. If I’m not willing to take “no” for an answer, the person I’m hiring should be made aware.
I do this by:
2. Establishing clear expectations and boundaries, in writing. These are, as Brené Brown describes, “guardrails.” They’re the yellow lines on the highway. There is a REASON we don’t all just drive wherever or however we want. The clear expectations allow everyone to know what’s reasonable and what’s not, what’s included and what’s not, and to say no with confidence. Once boundaries are established, I try really hard to respect them. (I try every day. It is something I am continually working to improve.)
It is Vi’s job to tell me “no” if I try to drive outside my lane. They know that is their job. I tell them that often. Mallary tells them that often. Steph tells them that often. If Vi says no in that very defined context, the “stay in your lane, Katie” context, if I ignore them, I need to accept that I might wreck, and the wreck will be my fault and I will have to deal with the consequences of wrecking.
Here’s what it looks like to say to a provider, “I’m willing to hear ‘no’ from you:
Email Marketing Help Wanted
We are looking for someone to evaluate our data, ask us questions, and then make recommendations for a holiday marketing editorial calendar.
(You’re saying: I want feedback, I want recommendations, and if something is a bad idea, tell me.)
Here’s what it looks like if you don’t want to hear “no” from a provider:
Email Marketing Help Wanted
We are looking for someone to implement our current email calendar using our established email marketing software. The ideal provider will seamlessly fit into the role and pick up where we’ve left off.
Neither one is “right,” but each carries a different expectation of the provider and of the client.
Again, it’s FINE to fill a job with someone that will only say yes to me. It’s better for everyone if we all understand we’re looking for a “yes man” going in.
Three Great Reads and a Listen
Seth Godin’s blog post from today. (I SWEAR I chose the topic for this newsletter before I read this post this morning.)
Design is Storytelling
If you do marketing, read this book right now!
Find me at Cultivate ’21 in Columbus, Ohio, July 10-July 13.
We’re in person this year! (WOO HOO!) But I will be bringing along “real world” examples, videos, and the same interactivity that’s become a hallmark of my virtual talks. It’ll be the best of both worlds, plus you’ll get to meet and mingle with others in the same boat!
Help! I Need Somebody: How to Hire & Effectively Manage Remote E-commerce & Admin Staff Sunday, July 11 • 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Expand your Market: Retail Ecommerce Opportunities for Wholesale Growers Monday, July 12 • 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM
Go Small – Gain Big: Micro-Marketing Strategies to Increase Revenue Monday, July 12 • 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
|I’ll also be doing a virtual session on Hiring and Managing Remote Contractors (admin, website management, social media, etc.) for GardenCOMM, and registration is open to everyone! Learn more here.|
|If you ever read my newsletter and think I’m writing straight to you, rest assured, I’m really writing straight to me.|
It’s just a bonus that what I need to repeat to myself over and over and over again might help you, too.
What’s the most difficult “no” you’ve had to say? The job you had to quit but you struggled to decide to? The relationship you walked away from? The client request you couldn’t honor? Tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine.
Have a great rest of the week!