After Labor Day, Put Away the Whites and the ‘Nos’

Want to make a huge change to your HR career? No, really?

Okay, do this one thing:

Stop using the word “No.”

That’s it. Just stop it. Don’t say “No” ever again. HR pros lose credibility faster than anyone else because we are known as the “No” police. Employees, hiring managers, vendors, everyone comes to you expecting, knowing you will probably have one answer to their question and 99.9% of the time that answer is “No”! Or a variation of “No,” like “I need to check on that and get back to you,” which is just a “No” with an added delay so you don’t have to say “No” to their face.

HR pros need to stop saying “No.”  As soon as you say “No” people withdraw from you and stop listening. You become the same old HR person they’re used to dealing with. You just got lumped into the heap of other crappy HR pros they’ve known in their career. Over one little stupid two-letter word.

So, what should you do instead?  Say “Yes!” Say “Yes” to everything and everyone!

“Tim, can we fire Jane?” 

“YES!!!”  “Yes, you can! Do you want to fire Jane now, after work, on Friday! Let’s do this! Yes!” 

Instead, we say, “Well, slow down, do you have the right paperwork? Have you followed the steps? Have you…” All these are “Nos” in other forms! As soon as you start down this path, your ‘business partner’ shuts down and believes you are not a partner, you’re a typical no-help HR person.

But, I know the documentation is important! I still say, “Yes!” It just sounds a little different:

“Heck, Yes! I’ve been waiting to fire Jane’s lazy ass for years! Let’s do this!” 

Now, what happens? I mean after your hiring manager picks their jaw up off the floor? They come forward! The want to hear more. They weren’t expecting this! I also, follow it up with something like this:

“Just a quick second before we shoot Jane, I need to let the CHRO know we are doing this, totally supportive! But we’ll probably end up in court knowing we’ve got no documentation, but don’t worry we’re still doing this! I’ve been to court and I can help you prepare for your questioning on the stand, we got this!” 

It’s around this point where every hiring manager does one thing:

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“COURT! I don’t want to go to court!” 

“Well, OK, I can help you with that. Let’s make a plan!”

Never in there did I say “No,” and in the end I got what we both wanted, and the hiring manager felt supported, not like I was against her.

Can we please kill “No” already!

Enjoy more of Tim’s wit and insights on The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.

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