-versione italiana qui–
It often occurs, during presentations to senior management, high-level decision meetings or strategy sessions of any kind, to spot smiling and attentive individuals. These people often tend to lean on the table towards the Manager, in anticipation of his illuminating statements. They use to be in the habit of nodding, and raising amazed eyebrows while listening to the words of the Manager, full of ancient and forgotten wisdom. The Yes-men neglect the given project analysis, the decisions taken, the rational choices and the simple reality: they have the only purpose of pleasing the Boss.
It is easy to understand to what extent such enthusiastic attitude can tickle the ego (that is often already pretty huge) of the Manager in question, but far too little attention is paid to the side effects that this temporary fulfillment of the manager’s superego produce.
The first problem, immediate and disruptive, arises with the need to review all decisions taken up to date due to the statements (right or wrong) of the Manager, with devastating consequences on the three variables of project management: time, cost and quality.
The second effect concerns the exclusion of the few “no-“ (or “-maybe”) -men who try, with intellectual honesty, to show to the Manager the reality of things, highlighting constraints, risks and motivations. These gentlemen find themselves thrown out and unheeded, and with the one and only satisfaction to say, one day “I told you.”
Finally the issue with the most destructive impacts, though fully evident only in the medium term: the manager becomes unable and incapable to properly assess the pros and cons of any decision or choice (no one will ever tell the truth about the cons …), with the effect of making the company, no matter how large and organized, an actual “one-man-band”, with no contradictory and dabate and, consequently, lacking of innovation and creativity.
In conclusion, Mr. Manager, beware of Yes-men.
And while Manager are often yes-men too, please, Mr. Entrepreneur, beware of Managers!