Productivity’s Secret Weapons

Saying Yes/Saying No

Today’s busy professionals operate in a non-stop, information overloaded, time constrained reality. Often, the lines between what managers need to do and what they think needs to be done become blurred. Effective leaders, at any level, learn to prioritize and organize in order to maximize their productivity. The 2 secret weapons busy executives use are simple: saying ‘Yes’ and saying ‘No’.  Learning when and how to deploy these underutilized weapons can change your perspective and productivity substantially.

Productivity is the combination of intelligent planning and focused effort

Maintaining productivity at work or at home can be a challenge for anyone.  Many professionals are not satisfied with the amount and quality of their daily accomplishments. The good news is that remaining open to change allows room for improvement.

Saying ‘Yes’ is all about asking for help or delegating. It is recognizing the unique capabilities and availability of others and harnessing those into a Win-Win for everyone. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It is exactly the opposite and most team members are happy to be included.

With today’s rapidly changing business environment, progressive leaders realize they need to muster all the help available in order to meet these challenges in a timely manner. It is just not possible for one person to know and do everything. Ruth Smyth, a leading human resource executive says that asking for help builds a healthy business. “There is a huge amount of evidence that suggests that a collaborative culture leads to innovative and better productivity because people are focused on common goals.”

How to Say “yes” with a request:

  • Ask for advice instead of ‘help’
  • Explain the reason that help is needed in precise language. This removes the perception of vulnerability
  • Make the situation Win-Win by sharing goals. This is a negotiation so praise loudly and be available to reciprocate
  • Frame your request carefully. Ask in a way that is requesting an opinion and cooperation without being apologetic
  • Perform due diligence. Exhaust all your personal options around a roadblock before asking for help.

Saying ‘Yes’ to your colleagues means asking and then trusting them. Make certain they have all the resources possible at their disposal. Strategic use of available resources is a key productivity maximizer.

While saying ‘Yes’ is often celebrated because it supports courage and taking risks, saying ‘No’ is rarely celebrated because it is easily misunderstood and difficult to master. ‘No’ is not to be confused with negativity. Negativity is an energy sucker; it dampens others’ enthusiasm and is averse to action. Negativity is not powerful. ‘No’ on the other hand is a personal stand, a clear choice considering your needs and abilities. “The ‘No’ that is an affirmation of self, implicitly acknowledges personal responsibility. It says that each of us interacts with others…we do not and can not allow ourselves to be influenced by them. The strength we draw from saying ‘No’ is that it underscores this hard truth of maturity: the buck stops here.” ‘No’ can be a tool and a barrier to establish boundaries and help leaders recognize and manage their limits. It can keep you true to your principles, focused on your goals, protect you from cheerful exploitation by others and give you the strength to change course when needed.

‘No’ can be difficult for healthcare professionals to use because of their innate desire to help or please people.  Adam Grant, Ph.D. Organizational Psychologist, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School and author of “Give and Take” says that the ability to say ‘No’ is one of the most important skills a people-pleaser can have. He believes that using the power of ‘No’ is a necessary time management tool in order to give your own goals and agendas a fair shake. “Saying ‘no’ is especially huge in establishing work/life balance. Without that ability, work can cannibalize your life.” He also believes it causes others to respect you and your time and teaches others to only come to you with meaningful requests. ‘No’ makes your ‘Yes’ more important because it establishes you as a specialist rather than a generalist in what you make available to others.

How to say “No”

  • Replace automatic ‘yes’ with ‘I’ll think about it.” This allows the opportunity to weigh options, think it through and soften the ‘no’
  • Soften your language. This is called the Oreo Cookie technique by saying something positive with the ‘No’ comfortably sandwiched in the middle. “That’s interesting but I’m not comfortable with…”
  • Control feelings. Think Zen-like outward calm. Project a thoughtful response rather that an emotional reaction
  • Reference obligations to others or conflicting time constraints. This prevents appearing selfish or uncaring
  • Practice being clear, concise, respectful but firm

The use of these 2 secret productivity weapons by effective leaders in any business or profession shows backbone and maintains personal integrity. Time is the most important currency in your life.

NHS Solutions is a specialty interim staffing firm that helps hospitals save time. Our client managers and recruiting team are available to match interim healthcare candidates with our clients’ unique leadership needs. Our exceptional interim healthcare leaders arrive at their assignments equipped to discern where the yes and no will be most effective in solving problems, maintaining a smooth- running unit or being a change agent. Contact us to discuss your healthcare leadership needs today.

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