When Is It Okay to Say ‘No’ at Work?

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ClapHello, this is Laura Lee Rose. I am a speaker, an author, and an expert in time and project management. I help busy professionals and entrepreneurs create effective systems so that they can comfortably delegate to others, be more profitable, and have time to enjoy life. At the end of the day, I transform the way you run your business into a business you love to run.

In today’s installment of my column, I’m going to tackle a question Recruiter.com has touched on beforeWhen, if ever, is it okay to say no at work?

This situation comes up in many different flavors:

  • for employees working for a company or corporation;
  • for managers answering their employees’ requests;
  • and for business owners answering to their clients

Although the above list is not exhaustive, it does give you the idea that regardless of what role you play in an organization — be it employee, manager, or owner — you will always have someone that you need to answer to. And sometimes, that answer is going to be “no.” We’re always worried about saying “no” at work, but it’s never the answer that gets us into trouble — it’s how and why we give that answer that does us in. The great news about this is that we can always control the “how,” and sometimes even the “why.”

The key is to be very clear about your overall goals and long-term plans. If the current situation does not support your overall goals or long-term plans, than it should be a candidate for one of the “Four Ds”: delegation, deletion, delaying, or diminishing.

It’s Okay to Say ‘No’ at Work When You’ve Done These Things:

1. Co-created a professional business commitment plan with your manager. This is a documented that clearly states your career goals, your current roles and responsibilities, and your SMART goals that support your business commitment goals.

2) Co-created an individual development plan with your manager. This document states your career path and career goals. It lists the skills that you need to develop and the things to need to accomplish to reach the next level of your career.

3) Understood your manager’s business commitment plans — and how your current role and responsibilities support both his and your professional business commitment plans.

ShoesOnce you have done the above, you can intelligently decide if any request in front of you supports the previously agreed upon road map. If the request doesn’t match your goals, then you can work with your manager to find another solution (i.e., modify the request so that it does fit your goals; delegate the task to someone into whose professional business commitment plan it does fit; determine if the essence of the goal can be accomplished by some other means).

The bottom line is to work with your manager — or whomever it is you are answering to — in order to find an alternative way to accomplish the “essence” of the goal — if not the exact task itself.

For more information on everything discussed here, including the Four Ds and professional business commitment plans, why don’t we schedule an appointment, where I get to know more about your unique situation? I will be happy to make recommendations on what your best steps are moving forward. Contact LauraRose@RoseCoaching.info.

By Laura Lee Rose