Recently I was preparing to facilitate a strategic planning session for a not-for-profit board. This had me reflecting on my past board experiences, which have ranged from a large international association to a local chapter.
As diverse as these experiences can be, one commonality remains. To be an effective board member you need to devote a significant amount of time and energy. And you need to decide where to best place your attention. The same is true in the workplace.
This is where a simple and powerful coaching concept can help: Saying Yes, Saying No.
Too often in our work lives we say yes without much reflection.
When I worked as a research consultant, I was invited to attend meetings related to new client engagements. These meetings gave our Vice Presidents a chance to brief the team on new clients and their project needs. Some weeks I was attending two or three of these meetings. Since my role was to provide strategic research to our clients, those 2-3 hours took me away from important work.
As a consequence I was saying no to:
- Focused time to do research
- Being able to complete my assignments during work hours
- Feeling confident that I could complete my work well and on time.
For me this last consequence was the most impactful and started to make me feel pressured and stressed. Since my job required creative thinking and accuracy this impact was not serving me or the organization.
Quickly I realized the impact of saying yes to attending these meetings. I approached my manager with an idea for a yes that would allow me to gain the information I needed about new clients and still have time for focused work. We simply asked that the information relevant to my role be delivered in the first 10-15 minutes of these meetings. Then I would leave the meeting and gain back 45 minutes to focus on client work. In other words I said a modified yes.
It was a simple solution and one that became clear only when I stepped back and considered the impact of saying yes.
Next time you are asked to attend a new meeting or take on a new project, take a few minutes to reflect. Grab a piece of paper and on one side clearly write down what you are saying yes to. Then on the other side consider the time and attention it will need. Write down what you would have to say no to.
This simple and powerful technique will allow you to make an intentional choice.
Janice Cunning is a Certified Coach who is passionate about partnering with fundraisers to help them create an inspired vision that transforms lives.