Set up every yes for success

Bruce Tulgan
July 08, 2021

Bruce Tulgan

Founder of RainmakerThinking, Inc. and Top Expert on Leadership Development and Generational Issues in the Workplace
Teamwork Future of Work Personal Growth Time Management

Remember, every good no allows you to give great yes's--saying yes to collaboration, saying yes to an opportunity to add value and build a relationship.

But to truly make an impact, you must set up each yes you give for success.

Every yes deserves a plan for focused execution. The execution plan is the key to a great yes. Some yeses are short and sweet, but they still deserve a plan, however short and sweet. Every yes is a commitment, and every commitment deserves to be taken seriously and honored with a good plan and focused execution.

Create an intake memo

The most reliable way to make a positive impact right from the start, before you've even begun on the project, is to tune in to the other person's ask.

Start to gather the information you need as a first step in your due diligence process:

  1. What is the date and time, for tracking evolutions in the project?
  2. Who is the asker?
  3. What is the deliverable being requested? Be specific.
  4. What is the delivery date?
  5. What are the specifications?
  6. What are the resources that will be required?
  7. What is the source of authority? Who's asking for it? Who's authorizing it? Has it already been approved? If so, by whom?
  8. What are the possible benefits, hidden costs, unsurfaced objections, toes to be stepped on?

Consider the No Gates

Before saying yes, make absolutely sure that your response shouldn't be a no or a maybe first.

These are the No Gates:
No . . .

. . . I physically cannot do it because I don't have the necessary experience, skill, knowledge, time, or tools.

. . . I am not allowed to do it because it is against the law, rules, procedures, or marching orders from my boss.

. . . I should not do it, at least right now, because there are other items higher on my current priority list, I don't think it's a good idea, or the ask is still not sufficiently clear.

Remember, maybe is always an option.

End the conversation by clarifying next steps

If you have done a really good job tuning in to the ask, doing an intake memo, and framing the ask in terms of the basic elements of a proposal, and seriously considered the No Gates, then you should have a pretty good idea of what you are committing to when you say yes. Still, if you are not yet accustomed to working together with the asker--if they are not one of your regular customers--there will be plenty of details to clarify about how you are going to do business together. Don't take the details for granted or you will likely have one small surprise after another.

Yes is the time to really pin down the commitment with a plan of action, especially for a deliverable of any scope. How do you move the conversation from yes to a plan? By asking the platinum question: "How can I help you help me help you?"

In other words:

  • What ground rules might you need to establish for working together?
  • What will be your cadence of communication, where, when, and how?
  • In terms of the work: Who is going to do what, where, why, when, and how? You need to agree on the sequence, timing, and ownership of all the steps.

End every conversation by clarifying who owns which next steps and scheduling your next follow-up conversation. The punch line is always the next steps. Planning is the key to successful execution. Plan the work so you can work your plan.


This post appeared first on RainmakerThinking.

Bruce Tulgan

Want Bruce Tulgan for your next event?

Find out more information, including fees and availability.
Find Out More
Keep Reading
Stay in close dialogue between hiring and day one
Bruce Tulgan
Bruce Tulgan
September 10, 2021
If there is a lag between hiring and day one for a new hire, it is important to keep that ...
When hiring, try to scare the best candidates away
Bruce Tulgan
Bruce Tulgan
September 03, 2021
When hiring in a highly competitive environment, it is critical to try to scare the best ...
How to build and diversify your staffing supply chain
Bruce Tulgan
Bruce Tulgan
August 27, 2021
If step one to gaining a strategic hiring advantage in 2021 is to define your ...
Stay in close dialogue between hiring and day one
If there is a lag between hiring and day one for a new hire, it is important to keep that person engaged in the meantime and set them up for a solid start. Maintain a high level of communication during the intervening time, not just from Human Resources or some other anonymous corporate office, but from the hiring manager(s) and the teamthe e...
Read More
When hiring, try to scare the best candidates away
When hiring in a highly competitive environment, it is critical to try to scare the best candidates away. Yes, you read that right. Let me explain why. The biggest mistake hiring managers make, particularly when hiring in the midst of a talent shortage, is continuing the 'attraction campaign' until the candidate has accepted the job, and s...
Read More
How to build and diversify your staffing supply chain
If step one to gaining a strategic hiring advantage in 2021 is to define your employer value proposition, step two is to build and diversify your staffing supply chain. Depending on your optimal staffing mix, you may build your staffing supply chain using a mix of internal professionals, expert external partners, and technology. Questions you s...
Read More
How to define your value proposition as an employer in today's talent wars
If you want to gain a strategic advantage in today's talent wars, step one is defining a clear value proposition to potential new hires. Decide who or what you want to be as an employer and tell your story loud and clear. This should not just be in terms of mission, vision, and culture, but specifically in terms of the work your organization ...
Read More
The Top Causes of Employee Turnover in 2021
There is an acute talent shortage facing employers of all sizes, in all industries. While there are plenty of short-term causes, presumably temporary, the costs to employers will be huge. Not only must organizations fill the gaps with new hires, they must also ensure their best employees stay. Rather than seeking to reduce turnover, employers mu...
Read More
You can't afford to ignore today's talent wars
The talent wars of 2021-2022 will be defined by talent shortages and high rates of voluntary turnover, reflecting a confluence of factors exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Employers must be wary of the impending wave of employee turnover they will soon face. Chronic understaffing is already a problem many organizations are facing. When open-...
Read More
Hiring Challenges in 2021--Short-Term and Long-Term Factors
After huge recent fluctuations in the job market--record low unemployment in the months before the Covid-19 pandemic, record job losses during, and record re-hiring in the aftermath--employers are facing more severe talent shortages than any time since we at RainmakerThinking began our workplace research in 1993. While the particulars differ by ...
Read More
The 'yes' people you want to avoid at work
There are three components to a successful "yes" at work: It's well-timed It's thoroughly considered It's tied to a specific, actionable commitment We have all known someone with a reputation for saying "yes" to any new request or project, without considering these three components of a good yes. Maybe they want to establish themselves as help...
Read More
Set up every yes for success
Remember, every good no allows you to give great yes's--saying yes to collaboration, saying yes to an opportunity to add value and build a relationship. But to truly make an impact, you must set up each yes you give for success. Every yes deserves a plan for focused execution. The execution plan is the key to a great yes. Some yeses are sh...
Read More
When to say Yes, No, or Maybe at work
To avoid burnout and overcommitment in today's workplace, you have to be savvy about which projects you accept and which you decline. But how do you know when to say yes, no, or maybe at work? Here are some basic guidelines for when and how to respond to new opportunities for collaboration. Say no at the right time, for the right reasons Saying...
Read More