Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Just say yes...or should you?

When I first started working in the big bad corporate world I was the ultimate people pleaser – need a report running? I’m on it. Need all that extra work doing that rationally we know we can’t meet the deadline for? Pass it my way. Want someone to do a tea run? I was your gal. After about 6 months the feedback came thick and fast (from the people asking these questions I might add!) – ‘you’re a yes person’, ‘you take on too much’, ‘you need to learn to challenge back’ – you can imagine the kind of thing.

It immediately made me call in to question how I was being perceived in the work place – was I really the doormat? I’d judged doormats before, I’d looked at them and thought ‘who are you trying to please’. Suddenly it was me being the try hard. What followed was a swift wrap on the knuckles (self inflicted) that actually what I’d been trying to do was make a good impression, and with it being my first ‘proper’ job the only way I knew how was to take on more and put my all into everything and then some.

Over the years it’s flexed – there are still times when I am or indeed need to be, a yes person. Sometimes no matter how much courage I may have I ultimately work in a hierarchical organisation where seniority has a habit of dictating what ends up getting done. There are, luckily, many exceptions to this as well though – there are very definitely a couple of very senior people who do actually listen to the thoughts and opinions of their team which can lead to a more constructive and efficient approach to working.

As I’ve moved around and had accountability for leading others the impact of those times when I jump a little too quickly to ‘yes’ has become apparent as well – luckily not all that often, but it’s a different challenge when you’ve got others to think about – their work load, making sure they feel they can do their job without being micro managed, allowing creativity not to be stifled. It’s not so different at home – if we spend our time agreeing to everything everybody suggests you’re left with no time for you (and significant others) and what should be nice relaxing weekends and evenings suddenly get eaten up by doing things on everybody else’s agenda – eeek!

So are you a yes person? I’ve got some questions for you...
• What is the impact on you of being a yes person?
• What is the impact on those around you of being a yes person?
• When have been the times you’ve actually just needed to comply?
• Where have the opportunities to challenge been?
• Have you taken those opportunities?
• How do you want to identify when you have scope to challenge?

There’s no time like the present to check in – time for some reflection?

Happy questioning x

Wednesday, 4 June 2014


I spied this quote recently from Andy Stanley – ‘Growth creates complexity, which requires simplicity’ while I was having a read of some articles about making the complex simple. 

I’m generally surrounded by a high level of complexity because of the role I do and the organisation I do it in, so I’ve come to expect a work life that involves a lot of being on my toes.  It often spills into home life as well, and in both areas I have to challenge myself to break down the complex.  Sometimes it’s for me, sometimes it’s for those around me.  My goal always remains the same though – reducing stress and keeping things straight forward!

The more time I spend coaching others the more it dawns on me that complexity is subjective.  Not coachees, but my grandparents have found their way of life for the last 4 years complex and stressful – my Nan had a stroke and being the fitter of the two (and general matriarch tendencies!) they have been thrown into a different way of existing ever since.  Now much of their complexity is completely self-created – they’ve changed about 10% of the way they live since her illness, when in reality it needs a major overhaul.  It creates an unnecessary amount of complexity for them and those that help them, but from their perspective keeping life as it was as much as possible is what keeps things normal and simple.  A psychologist would have a field day!

In an everyday environment I see many people dealing with their own kind of complexity – multiple projects, tricky deadlines, demanding line managers, mastering the ever challenging work/life balance.  So what do you do?  Curl up in a corner and crumble?  Or carry on regardless?

Whatever way you migrate to, have a think about these questions to help you along your way:
  •      What is the reality of the situation?
  •      Where is the complexity coming from?
  •          What would make this really simple?
  •          How can I make that happen?

I’m going to stop there with the questions, rather than over complicate it (!) with many more – but hopefully you get the gist.  As with most situations, the power of the question is huge here.  Trying to carry on in the same way you have always done or not looking for ways to simplify the way you work in a world of growing complexity will take you in a direction where your blood pressure rises unnecessarily and you get yourself caught up with stressful situations.

Happy simplifying x