Characteristics of a Business Amateur – The Yes-Man’s Dilemma

I often find myself teaching new members of the workforce from the ground up due to the nature of the job where it’s difficult to find experienced seniors in the field.

Many of these rookies tend to say yes to any job or task offered to them. Of course, there are certain individuals that refuse to do everything, but it’s largely personality dependent. People who have often experienced success during their time as a student are more likely to be confident in themselves.

Their positive attitude and enthusiasm are all great qualities. But more often than not, the jobs and tasks they take on go unfinished. This ends up being a huge pitfall from the manager’s perspective when assigning tasks.

The trap lies in the assumption of “infinite time”.

Nothing would be impossible if we had an infinite amount of time. But time is a scarce resource in business.

All tasks have a deadline and new tasks pile up before you even get to start on your current one.

A task should only be defined as “possible” when it can be completed within the allotted amount of time.

Many rookies trick themselves into thinking that a task is possible under the pretense that they have an infinite amount of time available and will be able to maintain absolute concentration levels throughout the process. But reality is different, and promises can’t be kept.

That’s why when I’m working with a team member that lacks experience, I make sure to set up alternative plans and checkpoints throughout the task to ensure success. And when the promised deadline isn’t met, I ensure that the fundamental reason for failure is identified and resolved.

The most dependable workers are those who can explicitly define what is and isn’t possible with allotted resources. It’s important to establish definite standards when it comes to task standards and elements between the lines.

A lengthy process of trial and error is required in order to reach this level of confidence. The ideal end state we want to achieve is the ability to identify what’s not possible and come up with an alternative solution. I’ll be discussing the process of reaching this end state in my next post.

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