BY JOHN M. BERNARD
With the access we as customers have today to a plethora of options, we place enormous value on an organization’s ability and willingness to say “yes” to our unique needs. Not only do we want to hear that magic word, but we want to hear it NOW!
Call us spoiled, but we want what we want and we have learned we can increasingly get it thanks to the incredible options we find on the Internet.
During the time I was writing Business at the Speed of Now I had a conversation with some colleagues during which the term “YESability” was coined. I was explaining how critical it is in these highly competitive times that employees have the authority to say yes to opportunities, yes to solving problems, and yes to how best to move the organization closer to its goals.
While I know some people find made-up words annoying, I use YESability because it poses two questions every leader needs to explore: How yes-able are my people? Can they take action when they need to or do they need to seek permission?
If employees have to go to their supervisor or manager to get permission to do anything out of the ordinary, you have a problem. A competitive problem that will directly impact your customers’ experience. Why do I say that? Because seeking permission takes time. And in a real-time NOW economy that extra time is just enough for the customer to give up and move on to a more responsive competitor.
But the concept of YESability goes well beyond the conspicuously important real-time customer opportunity. It impacts the daily opportunities employees see to solve a problem, trim a cost, or improve a process.
It is human nature to improve things. We do it in every aspect of life.
But in traditionally managed organizations decisions happen through the chain of command. That fact of life slows down every decision and dramatically reduces the volume of decisions that can be made.
When only a handful of people have YESability, namely management, only a handful of problems get solved, only a handful of costs get cut, only a handful of ideas get implemented. It’s simple math and customers bear the brunt of this model.
Enabling people to say yes requires that management do its job BEFORE an opportunity knocks. Management needs to shift from making the decisions to enabling the decisions, which fundamentally redefines the work of management.
The job of management in our modern economy is to make sure every employee has the business knowledge, problem solving skills, and authority to say yes to customers — and to be able to say it now — when yes is the right answer (which is most of the time).
Can your employees say yes?