Perspectives from the *other side* on Software, Management and Life

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Of Yes Men

By Yes men, i do not mean the imposter's for WTO etc, but rather men and women who always respond with a "yes sir" to their superiors. And worse, provide advises which are always in the affirmative. Surrounding oneself with such individuals generally leads to a corrupted thought process of an illusion of always being right and a gradual degradation of analytical thinking.

I bring this up, as I always usually (try to) ask my direct managers for advise before making major decisions. This is not to say that all decisions need to be approved or have an organization run democratically, but it is advisable to bring on board key stakeholders who will rally the "troops", ie employees of your organization around the change.
At a company I used to work for a long time back, we had a joke around each corporate directive related to a change in policy, that being that the monkeys like to rotate knobs hoping to hit the jackpot by chance. Obviously the executives there did not take on board the front line managers (that tends to happen quiet frequently in fortune 500 companies), who were far from convincing when relaying the need for the changes, as they themselves were far from convinced.

To keep myself from being surrounded by yes men, I try to do two things. One, I keep a "yes meter rule" handy when dealing with direct reports who I meet often. If they are all praise and have too many "yes" over a few weeks, then its best I not ask them for advise.
And second, I try to refrain from showing agitation or irritation at being given information that is not of liking. This includes rebuttals on decisions taken by me and bad news. Nobody wants to be the bad news messenger, but it takes courage to do so!

All said, lately I've been preoccupied with the local political landscape here in Pakistan. I watch the daily events with a sense of helplessness. Our Prime Minister, Yousaf Gillani, is a yes man at best, and a moron otherwise. I would not trust him to run a 50 man software company, let alone a nation of a 160 million. Its probably similar to how most (democrats) felt after seeing George W Bush win steal the white house. Anyhow, if you're seeing massive immigration out of Pakistan, then you now know why.


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