May 22, 2013

Employee-Manager Relationships: Know When to Say No

Man with a stop sign saying no to briberyIt happens to the best of us on the job every so often. Our boss or a higher up asks us to do something that calls for going the extra mile or making a sacrifice. Often it’s something that doesn’t really come alongside any additional reward or pay off beyond staying in the boss’s good graces. Saying no is going to be frowned upon, which puts the employee in a difficult position.

Even so, sometimes it’s necessary to say no. There are even cases where saying no is actually the only right thing to do. A CBS news article explained how no boss wants a “yes man,” and saying no when necessary and appropriate can actually help your career rather than hurt it. Saying no can help build a stronger team as you deal with conflict as opposed to avoiding it;  it will help your “yes” be that much stronger and legitimate; and it will help in sharing your opinions and ideastwo things every manager desires.

Below are a few other tips for figuring out when you should stand up to your boss and when you should simply go along to get along.

Being Asked to Do Someone Else’s Work

It’s one thing for the boss to ask you to put in overtime or go the extra mile in order to get your own job done. It’s quite another for your boss to consistently try to pressure you into doing someone else’s job for him/her or to try to pawn their own duties off on you – such as terminating someone else’s employment because your boss doesn’t feel like it. If your boss, manager, or supervisor is constantly expecting you to take on responsibilities that rightfully belong to someone else, it might be time to put your foot down or speak with HR.

Being Asked to Participate in Illegal Activity

If your boss, manager, or supervisor ever asks or expects you to participate in anything that you know is against the law, then it’s definitely time to say “no”. It may also be time to look for another job and report the people involved in the illegal activity to the police. No one has the right to ask you to steal or do anything else that could potentially result in harm to either yourself or anyone else in any way. In fact, saying no isn’t just the best option in this scenario, it’s the only option.

Being Repeatedly Asked to Break Personal Plans, Make Personal Sacrifices, etc.

This is where it gets trickier. Nobody really wants to put in overtime instead of getting together with their friends after work or reschedule a vacation they were looking forward to in order to pick up the slack for someone else who’s out sick, but sometimes these are necessary evils. The time will eventually come when you need a similar favor and you would hope that someone else would have your back in that situation.

The right time to put your foot down and start saying no is going to come when you’re asked to make sacrifices more often than not. Are you asked to put in overtime or break personal plans on a near daily basis? Are you asked to forgo vacations and give up privileges almost every time you have something set up? It might be time to have a talk with your boss about why this is happening, especially if you always seem to be the only one asked to make the sacrifice.

Read more in Management Styles

Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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