All hail the team of no

Recently, I was in a meeting where I got to brag on a coworker of mine for helping to do something great. I love those moments because I’m a firm believer that if you don’t take time to acknowledge the small things team members do that make a difference, they’ll go somewhere else and do really big things. But before I tell you about that, I need to set the stage as to why I got to do this.

Before that, I made a point in the meeting that one of the things I want our department to be mindful of is taking every opportunity to not be considered “the team of no” by other areas of the business.

I believe no matter what industry, teams tend to have two beliefs about themselves and others:

  1. They know of a few others teams that tend to say no to ideas or provide a lot of (we hope well meaning) push back
  2. They are not the team of no

When it comes to the team of no, there are the usual suspects that come to mind:

  • Your overworked legal team
  • Your highly regulated risk and compliance teams
  • Your overly protective security teams
  • Your keenly over-analytical IT team

They’re easy to throw stones at though, right? They have a lot of rules, education, regulations and personalities they have to try to balance, and that can’t be easy.

I would suggest there are others, and maybe you’re on one:

  • The creative team that believes they know more than their client
  • The brand manager who follows the mantra “I’ll need to check with my manager, and her manager and…”
  • The marketing team that doesn’t embrace the case for change

For those of you who find this concept new, I’ve got a spoiler alert for you when it comes to the team of no:

  1. Despite having one or even many teams of no around you, your team might also be exhibiting signs of being a team of no to someone else.
  2. If you look around and find that things are full of obstacles, there’s a chance you just might be on or even leading the team of no.

Maybe you’re stuck and you find yourself on this team, or perhaps you just want to empower yourself and your team to stay as far away as possible from this type of situation. Good for you. Now take action.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. This brings me back to bragging on one of the members of the team I mentioned earlier. To help a fellow associate, rather than just deny their request, this team member used great communication, compromise and solution-oriented thinking to do the following: He started up front by saying the request was denied (got that out of the way early), explained why in a way that showed it’s being done with the best of intentions and finally provided a few alternative solutions and offered to help make one of them happen. #GoldStandard
  2. Get everyone in a room to talk through a plan, and include everyone you think will touch the project even if the role they will have is small.
  3. In meeting requests (and subsequent communications) be specific in what you want from each of the team members and help them understand what you’re trying to accomplish. Let them self select which meetings they want to come to, but always give them the opportunity.
  4. Continually ask the teams you’re working with, “Are you good with this? Any reservations?”
  5. Remember, just because you don’t think you’re part of the team of no – you might be. It doesn’t matter how you feel. What counts is the perception others have of you.

Unfortunately, you’re going to run into teams of no in personal and professional settings. There’s just no getting around it. Instead, I encourage you to take into consideration how you carry yourself and be mindful of what you instill in your team to help ensure you evade the team of no.

3 thoughts on “All hail the team of no

  1. Hey, Marc!
    Great article!
    I know these scenarios too well – both as a customer and as a marketer myself.
    Very valuable tips and solutions you present. And great job with the acknowledgment. It is key to acknowledge the team members when doing a job well done and thinking outside of the box!

  2. Thanks Jen! You bring up a good point. Until you’ve seen this from both sides I think sometimes it doesn’t sink in. It’s definitely a “walk a mile in their shoes” moment. Also, I’m very fortunate that I’m on a great team with great leaders in place. I feel like I learn more from them every day!

  3. Great article Jen!
    I am very familiar with these scenarios and I think it’s interesting to dig deep in them and understanding them better.
    Also, it’s super important to acknowledge what your team is doing, absolutely!
    Great points and thanks for the tips.

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