Saying no is the new yes

Today I want to share a great article by Tony Schwarz at The Energy Project on productivity and prioritization. On March 18, I took Tony’s challenge to take back my lunch for the rest of the month. I got so much out of it that I am not continuing well into April with my full hour long lunch breaks daily, usually offsite in a beautiful location such as the beach, the mountains, or the park. (I love living and working in Santa Cruz since each of these is only 5 minutes away.) I’ve been coming back from lunch full of energy and thinking clearly. People have remarked that I seem relaxed amidst the chaos.

In this article on saying no, Tony urges us to break the vicious cycle of the “madness loop” of back-to-back meetings, endless email, and putting out fires and instead take time to pause, reflect and prioritize.

Tony says, “We mistake activity for productivity, more for better, and we ask ourselves “What’s next?” far more often than we do “Why this?” He also quotes Ghandi: “A ‘no’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”

I’ll let you read the rest of the article at the Harvard Business Review Blog. Thank you to The Management Center for sharing this in your newsletter this week!

Now it’s time for me to take my lunch break.

Three signs of a miserable job

infographic lencioni

This week I’ve been reading leadership fable writer Patrick Lencioni’s book, “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job”. It’s not as depressing as the title makes it out to be, although I have received a few weird looks or comments from people who saw me reading it.

Lencioni outlines three factors that influence employee satisfaction. When people are happy at work, they do better work.

Being Known/Anonymity: When people know their coworkers, they are more fulfilled. People spend a lot of time at work, and they want to be known and appreciated by their manager and coworkers for who they are outside of work as well.

Relevance/Irrelevance: Who does your work matter to? If you are on the front line, your work matters to your customers. If you are a manager, your work matters to your employees. People need to know that their work matters to someone, even if it’s just their boss.

Measurement/Immeasurement: How do you measure your contribution and your progress? We are not talking about indirect measurements for the company, but measurements of individual contribution. People need to be able to gauge how they are doing each day.

Here is an infographic from Lencioni’s site on the three measures of job satisfaction.

How to Say “No” at Work

We had a great conversation at our offsite last Tuesday on the importance of being able to take on a reasonable workload, avoid overwork and burnout, and to know when to say “no”. There are both more and less effective ways of saying “no”, especially to your manager. It is generally not a good idea to “Just say no,” but instead to let your manager know your priorities and what the sacrifice would be if you did this new project instead. 
Here is a resource from Forbes (in pictures!) on how to say “no” at work that explains this technique and others.