There’s a word out there when used at the wrong time can kill your business. It’s a word used all the time. It is a positive word under most circumstances.

What is it?

The word is “yes”.

Start with the “yes” man. David Hume said if you have a “yes man” working for you, one of you is redundant.

What is worse is having total agreement to everything you put on the table during business meetings. Having a “yes” staff is toxic. If your people are not comfortable offering challenging dialogue to your proposals, your business will not be making the best possible decisions. A culture of “yes” can destroy a business. I’ve seen this happen. No one is comfortable challenging the boss. Sure, the boss won’t jump on a dissenting point of view, but the other lackeys at the table will. The mindless and insecure will have to speak their support of their trusted leader even though an hour before the meeting they might have expressed privately a desire for change to you! When the very same change is proposed, they are the first to speak up with “but things are okay now and we shouldn’t take the risk of…” 

I often see the culture of yes people eating away at company development. This is very, very hard to turn around because most owners of smallish companies like a culture of yes. They like agreement with their thinking and dislike a challenge.

Sometimes I can help change the culture of yes. Sometimes I cannot. I have seen businesses that have been around for a long time fail because their market changed but they did not alter plans because the boss commanded a “stay the course” strategy.

If you notice your business meetings are totally agreeable and without serious, thoughtful dissent, your business is in trouble.

And more seriously, if you see people speaking out quickly to ‘defend’ the boss, you are in bad trouble and the days of your business could be numbered. You, as the the boss or owner would do well to limit the input of “yes” men.

Encourage open dialogue to get the best basis for making decisions.

Chris Reich, TeachU