Knowing When to Say No

Knowing When to Say No

Have you ever found yourself saying “yes” to employees when you absolutely KNOW that the best and most correct response should have been “no.” It happens to many business owners and if the “yes” doesn’t have long-lasting negative ramifications, it is probably forgotten pretty soon. But when the “yes” results in a highly charged and negative situation it should lead one to think long and hard about the reasoning behind the “yes” and how the situation might be avoided in the future.

Here are (3) three situations in which a “yes” could be disastrous:

  1. Being “Held Hostage” by an Employee

Business owners know how difficult and time-consuming it is to source, hire and onboard employees, so when a good employee requests a promotion or salary increase it can be cause for a quick “yes.” But what if the employee hasn’t been with your company long enough to warrant a change in position or salary increase or if they simply don’t have the expertise at this time to take on a new role. The fact is by acquiescing, you can very well upset your staff and the established equilibrium in the department.

The alternative in this situation is to establish a definitive career path for the employee so that they will know when they should be able to see career advancement and an increase in compensation along with what they have to do in order to make this happen. A reasonable employee, one that doesn’t set their personal expectations above that of the good of the company, will most probably accept this solution and if not, then they just might not be the best long-term employee for the job.

  1. Investing in New Technology

Many (most?!) business owners are technology experts and count on their IT staff to keep them apprised of what is happening with their technology infrastructure. It’s also true that most IT professionals are keen to take advantage of the new features that are found in technology upgrades, and often are interested in doing so, regardless of whether or not the new features are “really” necessary. Before making any technology investment that can have financial repercussions, it is well worth the time to have your IT staff present you with a comprehensive situation analysis with the pros and cons of such an investment or bring in an outside resource to conduct an independent assessment as well. The money spent on this extra step might well stop you from investing in technology that might not be necessary at this time.

  1. Bringing in New Employees Solely Based on Input From Supervisors and Managers

Recruiting and hiring new employees is a serious matter with far-reaching implications for your overall company, its existing employees as well as for the new hire. Premature hiring is usually prompted by workload and ability to handle the “peaks and valleys” that can occur in almost every business. But hiring new employees to handle the work for the peak times, without taking into consideration the eventual slowdown that will diminish everyone’s workload, can bring about real problems, both in terms of having too high a payroll for the work at hand as well as hiring someone for whom you don’t have consistent work.

Before increasing your staff due to an uptick in business, ask yourself:

  • Will the increased business be consistent?
  • Can we cross-train some existing employees to pick up the overflow of work?
  • Can we handle additional payroll?
  • Can temporary staff implement this work?

Once you assess the situation you can feel confident about making the right decision for your situation.


In business, knowing when to say “no” is a skill set that business owners must cultivate; as saying “yes” too quickly and in the wrong situations can lead to problems.



November 6, 2019