Saying No To Your Employer

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cmonkey
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Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:56 am

Saying No To Your Employer

Post by cmonkey » Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:55 pm

Saying no when someone asks you to do something can be difficult, especially when that person is your employer. There seems to be implicit assumption that employees will always do what their employer asks, but this really shouldn't be the case. The best relationship is one where the employer and the employee compromise to get what they each want.

I find saying 'no' to be very difficult. Even with a successful outcome where the employer is good with your decision, there is now a sort of grey cloud hanging over the relationship going forward - at least in my mind. Even having a lot of FU money saved up, this is still very difficult for me. I think it might come down to wanting to please everyone...

Have you said no and if so, how did it go?

Crazylemon
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Re: Saying No To Your Employer

Post by Crazylemon » Mon Apr 01, 2019 1:26 pm

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Last edited by Crazylemon on Tue Apr 02, 2019 4:12 am, edited 2 times in total.

Seppia
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Re: Saying No To Your Employer

Post by Seppia » Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:14 pm

I also find it difficult to say NO when asked, so I’ve found that what works best for me is to be upfront on what I will/will not be open to do.
The key is being open to a reasonable amount of different things and generally collaborative - if your “no” are few and far in between, they will look and sound more reasonable.
Adding some reasons why helps.

Example:
During the negotiation with my current employer they asked me if I would be ok to relocate.
I told them almost anywhere worked, preferences being main cities in Asia, USA and Europe (in this order), but that I would have not been open to Saudi / Abu Dhabi / Qatar / Bahrein or similar.
I told them that the reason why is I would not want to subject my life to living in a place where she’s considered a second grade human being.
I basically gave them 3/4 of the globe as options, so it’s not like they could call me choosy.

It’s always very clear I’m a very flexible person, with few definitive NOs.
Usually I try to express myself in advance so that I don’t get to the situation where I have to refuse, or if I have to at least I can point to a moment where I clearly stated it was an option I wasn’t open to.

Scott 2
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Re: Saying No To Your Employer

Post by Scott 2 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:30 pm

Work against a priority list. Make the argument to de-prioritize bad work, using your employer's values.

When you have no choice but to disagree, present the problem first. Try and make your employer a partner in solving it. Explain how you reached the unpalatable decision.

Being really good at what you do helps too.

IlliniDave
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Re: Saying No To Your Employer

Post by IlliniDave » Mon Apr 01, 2019 6:34 pm

Never said, "No." But I have said "No, thanks." Several times. It went fine each time, but the cumulative effect was to limit my ascent up the leadership chain. It was a trade off I was good with.

Tyler9000
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Re: Saying No To Your Employer

Post by Tyler9000 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:22 pm

I have the type of personality that wants to make everybody happy, so saying "no" has always been difficult. But I've gotten a lot better at it over the years. Although I admit that it got way easier after my current boss once noted that I'm "not critical enough" since that pretty much gives me free reign to be brutally honest with him and consider it making him happy. :lol:

In my experience, the best way to say no is to put yourself in the shoes of your employer and see if there's a good way to reframe it in their best interests.

"I'd like to help, but I'm slammed on the other project and don't want it to slip."
"To be very honest, it's not my strength and I think ____ would do a better job on this one."
"I understand your need, but I can't commit to that. Here's what I can do."

Most good managers can work with that, but there are definitely some personality types that get off on pushing people around. My best advice is to pick your battles and save them for something important. Personally, I've ended up leaving the few places where I perceived that management didn't have my best interests in mind.

Scott 2
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Re: Saying No To Your Employer

Post by Scott 2 » Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:07 pm

IlliniDave wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 6:34 pm
Never said, "No." But I have said "No, thanks." Several times. It went fine each time, but the cumulative effect was to limit my ascent up the leadership chain. It was a trade off I was good with.
I learned the hard way that declining promotion can mean working for someone less capable, as well as peering with less experienced coworkers. I did not enjoy the experience.

IlliniDave
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Re: Saying No To Your Employer

Post by IlliniDave » Tue Apr 02, 2019 4:23 pm

Scott 2 wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:07 pm
I learned the hard way that declining promotion can mean working for someone less capable, as well as peering with less experienced coworkers. I did not enjoy the experience.
I can see where that would be a drag. In my case it gives me a lot of time to mentor, which I like, and at the end of the day it's very often the case that it takes someone with the right technical acumen to get the hard stuff done. So it's allowed me to stay in the lab more of the time and spend less time politicking in meetings. Working for someone less capable almost goes without saying in my line of work.

SavingWithBabies
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Re: Saying No To Your Employer

Post by SavingWithBabies » Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:44 pm

I haven't really figured out how to say no. I usually only stay at an employer for a couple of years and then move on for whatever reason. In the past, it's been because I was following a specific path of learning what was of value to me in order to launch my own software business. I've followed that path to what I see as completion[*]. So that kept me hoping along and there wasn't really enough time to get to no. Or it was early stage companies and you just do the work and take the money. My latest gig though has been just for the money and stability and it's pushed me in interesting ways but I'm still not saying no. I'm quitting (decided yesterday) and going on to either more money or more interesting or a combination of the two[**]. So I guess I don't say no -- I just wait it out and leave for something new.

Going forward, now that I have FU money, I am going to learn to say no as I do see it as a personal shortcoming. It might help me shape the job into one that I enjoy and can grow in instead of always moving along.

* Still more to learn and I do want to double back on some technical areas but in general, mission accomplished.
** Would only take more money if it came with interesting work or some perk like contract position.

Campitor
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Re: Saying No To Your Employer

Post by Campitor » Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:15 am

I'm very flexible and hard working so there's little I will say "NO" to. However I have said it several times when asked to do things that are against company policy or what I consider unethical. Each manager who tried to retaliate forced me to go to HR; the manager was either fired for their unethical behavior or they were reprimanded/put on probation and I was reassigned to report directly to the manager's VP or Director.

Intelligence, honesty, conscientiousness, and saving the company enormous sums of money (millions in my case) turns out to be a huge advantage. My bosses in my current job are wonderful - the best I've ever had. The only thing I've told them is that I will stick to the job as long as it remains interesting. As soon as my job becomes a platter of uninteresting work, I'll start looking for another job that I find intellectually stimulating. They've done a great job giving me interesting work. I'd also like to point out that every job has some drudgery but I could never stay on a job where drudgery was a significant portion.

Intelligence, honesty, conscientiousness - rinse and repeat - this will help you say NO when it counts.

cmonkey
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Re: Saying No To Your Employer

Post by cmonkey » Thu Apr 04, 2019 10:49 am

Lots of good advice here. I've said no a couple times when asked to travel to different things and it's gone fine. Now I'm saying no to their 'every 10 week travel events' where we all get together for 3 days of power meetings. It's completely against the grain of my personality to travel to these things and sit through them, and ultimately of no benefit in my own case.

They are good with my decision and I think it's because this -
Scott 2 wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:30 pm
Being really good at what you do helps too.

Scott 2
Posts: 1288
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: Saying No To Your Employer

Post by Scott 2 » Thu Apr 04, 2019 12:29 pm

Event like that are incredibly draining for me. I always debate on whether the relationship building is worth the legitimate suffering I'll experience.

My rule these days is no more than one travel a month, and no flying for work. Getting down to one travel a month (from 2-3) happened this year and required a lot of negotiation. I ended up putting walking away on the table, as non-aggressively as I could. - "The travel isn't fitting my life any more. I understand and respect if you consider it a requirement for my position. It is not my intent to put the company in a hard spot. If you say no, I will work with you in a transition, training my replacement, on your time table, etc."

Ironically, I get so much more work done now. I was wasting a lot of time and energy hauling myself around.

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