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Don’t Let Your “Naysayers” Drive Away Your “Yaysayers

Imagine that the top 10 % of a company are “Yaysayers,” the middle 80 % are “Maybesayers” and the bottom 10 % are “Naysayers.”

If the middle 80 % can be pulled in either direction, the last thing you want is for the “Naysayers” to suck them down into their negativity.  What should you do?

Step 1: Just say “Yes” to "Yaysayers"

Identify, select and include only Yaysayers vs. Naysayers who:

  1. See, hear, listen and consider what you tell them vs. fighting you everywhere they can
  2. See change as an opportunity to improve and advance (rather than as burdensome) and act accordingly vs. resisting anything remotely sounding like change
  3. Consistently demonstrate resourcefulness, commitment and follow through vs. responding with, "Yes, but" and doing nothing
  4. Take the initiative to question when and what they don’t understand vs. discounting and dismissing anything they don't want to hear
  5. Come prepared for meetings vs. winging it, being lazy or disruptive to getting anything productive done
  6. Do what they say are going to do, when they say they are going to do it vs. not following through and coming up with excuses for why they didn't
  7. Take full responsibility and ownership for their actions vs. blaming others
  8. Give the same effort and commitment to a fairly reached decision they disagree with as one they agree with vs. being negative and trying to enroll others in their POV
  9. Never bring up problems unless they have taken the time to think of solutions vs. being teflonic and bringing up problems and then quickly making them someone else's fault or responsibility to deal with
  10. Are the right people, for the right job at the right time vs. are the wrong people for anything, period

Step 2: Just say “No” to Naysayers

Protect the Yaysayers from the Naysayers who can devitalize, if not suck the life out of their efforts. They are the ones who will self-select themselves out — by either not having the qualities of the Yaysayers listed in Step 1 or worse, by possessing their polar opposites.

For example, rather than seeing change as an opportunity to be more effective and impactful, Naysayers react to it as punishment for underperformance. Or instead of taking full responsibility for their actions, they justify them, make excuses or blame others. And they almost never bring up problems with solutions.

So obstructive can Naysayers be, that when I now work with companies to help them implement change, I require that they be excluded as one of my non-negotiable conditions before I will agree to work with them.

Step 3: Just say “Bye” to Naysayers (who keep naysaying)

Have the increased, measurable performance achieved by the Yaysayers as they embrace change and then implement it speak for itself. Then have it spread organically, silence the Naysayers and eventually pressure them to shut up, step up or leave.

Stay in Denial at your own Peril

If as a manager, you’re hesitant to follow these three steps, you are minimizing:

  1. The corrosive effect on motivation that Naysayers can have on a company culture, performance and results
  2. The lessening of respect that subordinates –- and you — will have for you when you tolerate and enable them
  3. How your effectiveness, your results and your career will suffer by not taking these actions

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