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HR - The Non-Affirmative 'Yes'
Do you know that 'yes' is not a good answer?

"When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary." - William Wrigley Jr.

Bright sunshine day, you walk through the corridors of your office, everybody nods, smiles and wishes. You reach your cabin, lean back on your chair and whisper the pleasant soliloquy, "It's a beautiful day!" Are you sure? Is it really beautiful day? Even if it is beautiful (to)day, will tomorrow be beautiful also? These are the questions that all the great leaders should ask themselves each day. Just when everything that you see seems perfect, just when everything that you hear is just an over simplistic 'yes', make a note, deep inside things might not be at the right order. All this 'yes' stands for is a line of oversimplification. People tend to oversimplify things as oversimplification demands less of brainwork; it gives you good quotes, facilitates niceThe non affirmative yes speeches, associates you with good banners, finds you a strong group and gives you a great polar colour. That is why people generally take it for granted that everything that is not white, must be black and vice versa. And that is where they commit a big blunder.

These 'Yes-Men' (well, women also) put the organisation into a big dilemma: the dual jeopardy of situational crisis and internal ignorance. Generally these Yes-Agents always try to put forward an over-simplistic picture of the happenings inside the organisation. From their always-said-yet-never-meant 'Yes' the leaders inside the organisation get a feel that everything is running smoothly and lean into the 'it's a beautiful day'-mania. But when the crisis bell rings, it rings really loud making the leaders clueless about the sudden outbreak of ill-fate. Thanks to the countless time repeated 'yes', they were never ready for the crisis. That is how these Yes-Agents do not only create problem by what they say; the lacuna lies mainly with what they do not say.

Historically, we have seen many instances of the disasters that these Yes-Agents have brought in where without any fault from the planning or resource levels, organisations did crumble down due to the unwarranted loopholes inside the managerial level. In these cases, the disasters were easily avoidable, yet were finally unavoidable as none was prepared for it (or none was made prepared for it). But there are cases of deliberate yes-mania also. Talking about Hitler, he was so pre-occupied with the notion that he was unconquerable, he had only Yes-Men around him; and sad for him, he got its result. On the other extreme, there are people who keep on listening to the issues that the people around make, think a lot, nod for a while, yawn a bit and forget about it. Well, they are also not spared from the fatal consequences that their silence brought in.

After the fatal consequences, people generally tend to blame these Yes-Agents, which is not that wise a notion to appreciate. One needs to go deep into the psyche of these people and find out the reasons behind their reluctance to give the truth a chance! The reason, in most of the cases, is the fear that they have about the consequences that a No from their side can bring in. They are, again in most of the cases, are not encouraged to blow the whistle, to utter the truth, to give the need to differ a fighting chance. That is why the predominant problem lies in the culture which never encourages conflict.

If any organisation wants to avoid this ignorance and excel with positive fuel, the first thing that they should check is not what is decided, rather, their main focus should be how things are decided. If the organisations are not thinking on the out-of-the-box manner to bring subtle change and encourage conflicts, then invariably the organisation is heading towards its dooms-day (however unwillingly). But by conflict, I do not mean the narrow political bickering, rather, it is the development-oriented contrarian approach that invites people from each level to participate in idea generation and encourage them to own the decisions that they are taking. When people start partnering the decision-making process, start owning the decisions that they make, start valuing their opinion, they inevitably start attaching their personal and collective responsibility to the possible consequences of the same decision. In this kind of culture conflict and consensus should go hand in hand. As by conflict, I do not mean the narrow political game, in a same way, by consensus, I do not mean a mere superfluous yes. This consensus means the absolute clarity and whole-hearted participation.

To ensure these, mere reactive measures are airy and horribly funny in nature. One needs to be proactive enough to ensure such a culture where people 'value their own decisions', and when people start valuing their own decisions, the sense of responsibility inside them makes them owners. Logically, no owner will close his eyes 'when Rome is burning'. Keeping your eyes open is not enough, because one vision is limited. more so when these yes-Agents are around in plenty.

By - Aniruddh Banerjee

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