As a manager, you are responsible to lead a meeting to discuss follow-up of the latest team’s proposal. While you expect a lively discussion with active participation from your team members, it turns out that they seem half-heartedly present at the meeting and reluctant to share their argument or opinion. Instead, most of them just go with whatever you are saying. No argument, no objection, no new perspective. The meeting finishes early but you are in danger of being surrounded by yes-people.
But why are yes-people dangerous?
Robert Tanner, principal consultant & founder at Business Consulting Solution LLC, explained that yes-people are okay for some situations, but they are not good for business especially if you are a manager. Imagine having a team who always agree to your decision. It will certainly put business at risk as there will be no new idea or critical view/thinking from your team. In the end, your business will not operate maximally.
Tanner said, yes-team are not merely silence for no reason. It is ‘usually’ the manager that put them in silent condition. “In my experiences, I’ve found that more often than not, yes-people are made not born,” said Tanner. It is the manager who often create company culture that makes employees choose to silence their voice. For example, manager often punish individuals for expressing their arguments. Thus, employees learn that it is better to agree than disagree.
“If you do not allow your people to disagree with you, you are in danger of creating a team of yes people.”– Robert Tanner
Gallup review on It’s The Manager also cited that employees become yes-team because they adapt company environment. “Yes-people often become yes-people by adapting to the company culture and what’s been expected of them in the past,” Gallup wrote. Therefore, solutions to this problem are to change your company culture and to become more open to criticism and argument from employees. There are three more steps for leaders to support better company environment. Based on It’s The Manager book, here are research-backed solutions for dealing with yes-team.
01 Show that you are in the same team
Tanner advised that when you are surrounded by yes-team, you should start look around the company environment. Ask yourself, are you creating the right environment for the team? Do you listen to what they say? Do you seriously take their opinion into account even when it contradicts to your idea?
As a leader, it is important to make your employees feel heard. As written in the book, “All organisations have problems they need to resolve. Whether people work through friction to fix problems or point fingers depends a lot on what they think of their leadership.”
02 Be open and make sure you can handle the truth
When you ask for feedback, people could just give it straight to you in person. And yet – learning about the truth can be irritating. Therefore, be ready to hear the truth as your employees will not always agree with your decision. Winston Churchill once said, “Criticism might not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” Better action is to spend your time to understand your team’s responsibility.
03 Let team do the jobs you hired them for
Most employees want to do what you hire them to do. They also want you to recognise their hard work and to know that you depend on their expertise. Showing them that they are important, that their decision is important, and that you trust them will give them courage to show who they truly are in your team. Better strategy is to invest in your own leadership strengths and let your employees shine with theirs.
According to the book, “The best organizations have leaders who encourage teams to solve problems at the local level rather than using top-down commands.” Leaders who focus on employee training and development programs on building local manager and team capability to solve issues on their own are what good leader truly is. Therefore, when you listen to your team, empower them to do what they do best. Yes-people will start to dwindle.