Remember your first “real” job? For many of us, it was a wonderful learning experience – although we didn’t realize it at the time. If you were like me, I was told to keep my head down, establish good working habits, and don’t question what your boss, or others ask you to do. In my first real job, I quickly learned that just because your boss is your leader, does not make him/her always right.
In today’s company cultures, I see the same patterns occurring for employees just starting out – saying YES to everything, and not asking clarifying questions. The effects range from unclear goals and objectives, re-work, increased friction between team and cross-functional peers, missed deadlines, reduced motivation, and a false sense of accomplishment. I’ve seen so many rookie employees complete their projects feeling like they did a good job, only to discover later they were not very effective and worked a lot harder than they should have. (Working hard does not necessarily mean you are doing a good job) What would it look like if companies provided mentors and coaches to new employees? In the book The 2020 Workplace by Jeanne C. Meister, she discusses the importance of having coaches to help guide, develop and train the next generation of workers. Part of that guidance is creating an environment where employees are encouraged to ask questions, challenge the status quo, and say NO when needed.
What kind of working environment are you in right now? Are you allowed to ask questions, or do you say YES to everything? What needs to change, in order for you to be set-up for success? The next time you are asked to do something, and you are unsure or have questions, try saying NO and see what happens!