This write-up has germinated from our contribution towards a story done by Times Ascent on “Yes Men in organizations”. “Yes- Men” employees are described as individuals who would be ready to take on as many tasks as possible. They are typically affable, willing to take on challenges and happy to deal with whatever demands they make. They agree to help their fellow employees just as easily and accepting work that does not fall within their job description. While they may seem like the perfect employees, are they really perfect? 

Well, before we answer this question, it is vital to understand the characteristic traits of such individuals that make them stand apart from their colleagues and how they can be identified. Broadly these individuals seem like possessing a perfect blend of task-oriented and relationship orientation. Such individuals are not impervious to their image and status and may seek situations that enhance their image. We also call them “Superman” profiles since they are hardly discouraged not to take any initiative and responsibility, however one may not make the same judgement about the execution. They are driven by this desire to be at the centrefold of activities and which impels them to accept each and every work opportunity in a hope to receive recognition. They devote themselves to several tasks or missions simultaneously and get entangled in situation which doesn’t require their involvement and time – and this might work against them and their team morale. Also taking more than what you can, sometimes result in missing deadlines in projects requiring critical involvement. However these set of people can be great assets if one knows how to utilise their strengths. Such employees should be identified in terms of their default style of working i.e. the underlying traits and their motivations or values. SOSIE is a comprehensive work based personality tool that can be used for this purpose. SOSIE is a French word translating as a “perfect resemblance to another”. SOSIE is more than a simple personality assessment. It is an online questionnaire measuring personality traits, interpersonal values and personal values within one instrument which enables in determining candidate’s performance at workplace. It identifies a person’s value system to reliably predict their motivations, behaviour and adaptation to a role and/ or organizational culture.

So, how perfect are these individuals for any organization? Depends on how the organisations are utilising their strengths at the same time being fully aware of their capabilities. Any team should have a mix composition of people. Team members are like fruits in a basket that hold together but bring in a different flavour to the task at hand. Whether having Yes Men in organizations or not is contingent on the growth stage and the corresponding culture of that organization. For instance, such employees can be advantageous for small sized or start-up organisations. In such organisations, people need to be more proactive and enterprising in getting things done and need to look beyond their prescribed KRAs. They should be comfortable with multi-tasking and ambiguity. However, in large and organised set up where competencies, roles and responsibilities are fully defined across levels – it’s necessary to contain such people and make them focus on task relevant to their area of expertise in order to avoid any disharmony within team. In some situations, these people can be a great contingent resource.

However, their leadership potential seems to be in question. As leaders, one has to steer the team by empowering others and not by sitting on the rear seat and driving on its own. For such people to be future leaders, they need to be tolerant and trusting of others and foster a culture of coaching and mentoring rather than doing everything on their own and not delegating. They have to be catalysts that enjoy drawing out the best in others. Such employees should leverage on their strengths of being relationship-oriented and take on a more leading and strategizing activities and break their comfort zone of always producing the work. As leaders one is responsible for one’s own action and developing the team. So as long as they learn to show team members how things get done and in the process, mentor and coach people and help develop their skills – they can be great leaders. If this is not done, there are grave risks associated with such people where employees and team members may shrug of the responsibilities and ownership.

Keeping this mind, how should organisations utilise such employees? The best way to optimize the enthusiasm of “yes-men” employees is to channelize their energies in developing, training people and setting up best practices while showing the way rather than doing others job. Since connecting with people comes naturally to them, they can be great buddies who can help assist their team members and create a healthy and conducive team culture of support and success through partnership. This will have a direct implication on everyone’s productivity.

Contributors:- Saurabh Singh, Prashant Banerjee & Tanvi Chaturvedi