Leaders are often faced with tough choices, being largely responsible for steering their team, or the entire company, in the right direction. Selecting priorities isn’t always simple as multiple factors are often in play, and the variables change frequently.
While finding answers to common decision points seems complex, they actually boil down to something drenched in simplicity, the choice between “yes” and “no.” The problem often doesn’t exist in delivering the decision. Instead, it is the discomfort that can come from saying “no.” But failing to do so leaves your team or business in limbo, and a non-answer may even be interpreted as a “yes” by some.
In order to make the hard calls, the phrases “yes,” “no” and “not now” all need to be part of your verbal repertoire. Since saying “yes” is generally considered easy, here is some guidance on how to say “no” with greater ease.
Be Honest About the Situation
Generally, a reluctance to approve a new project or initiative is based on certain hard facts, like a lack of time or other resources. However, these circumstances are rarely going to change in an instant, so the refusal to say “no” is often based on personal discomfort and not what is realistic.
When you’re faced with a tough decision, ask yourself honestly if it is actually possible. If it isn’t, then it’s wise to say “no” or “not now,” depending on whether the project or initiative could become a priority in the future. That way, you can focus on key objectives first, allowing you to invest your time, energy, and resources wisely.
Once you know a particular project or task either can’t be managed or needs to be set on the backburner, say so quickly. This allows them to be conceptually removed from your (and your team’s) plate, making it easier to move forward on core objectives.
The longer a decision lingers, the more likely people are to assume that working on the project in the near future is inevitable. This may lead them to take initial actions based solely on things going forward or could just increase anxiety if you and your workers already feel stretched to the limit.
By saying “no” early, you relieve that burden, allowing everyone to focus on what matters without an obscure future project hanging over their heads.
As soon as you decide that saying “no” is the right thing to do, make sure your response to the issue is clear. Making an ambiguous statement can leave more questions than answers, potentially damaging morale and harming focus.
As a leader, it’s okay just to say “no” and provide some basic insight into the situation to support your decision. Then, once the message is delivered, resist the urge to revisit it unless it is absolutely necessary.
By taking the above approach, you can make handling hard decisions easier, giving you a chance to focus on priority tasks and improve productivity.
If you are interested in learning more or need to hire a new employee to make more projects possible, the team at Bayside Solutions can help. Contact us today to see how our expertise can work for you.