The power of NO

There is an age old saying that goes something like this: 

“It is better to under promise and over deliver, than over promise and under deliver”. 

If you have been in the business world for any amount of time, you have likely heard this saying, or something very close to it.  As simple as it sounds, running an organization that TRULY lives by this principal is hard to come by.  There is good reason for this as well.  Sometimes it seems almost impossible to plan things “just right” so your organization isn’t over staffed in times of low amounts of work, and under staffed when you are overloaded with projects. 

So how do you organize your company to know when you might be getting in to this dangerous situation?  Communication.  Collaboration.  By saying NO.  That’s right, by saying NO.  As bad as it might sound to actually turn down work (especially during a down turn in the economy), think of the ramifications of not performing for your clients the way you said you would.  If you are struggling for days, weeks or months on end just to perform minimally on your projects, then you really aren’t giving your client the service they paid for correct?  Is that fair to your client?  Is that fair to you? 

I would argue that it isn’t.  While you might be making big checks now for all the projects you have taken on, take time to really look at how overbooking of your resources really effects your company and clients in the long term. 

Are your employees over taxed?  How is that affecting their long term “stay power” with your organization?

Are your clients underwhelmed or even disappointed?  How does that affect future business with this client?  Will you be getting any quality referrals from them in the future?  Would you even feel comfortable asking for a referral? 

Who else is going to learn about your performance?  Do you have partners or other clients that are likely to hear about your shortcomings?  How does that affect future business prospects with these partners? 

After taking these questions to heart, we should come back to my statement above.  That is the power of saying NO. 

Can turning down work actually help your organization?  Sure, you might be losing out on an opportunity to make more money in the short term, but will your reputation of quality help you in the long run?  Once you are known for being the “best” at what you do, do you think clients will be willing to wait for your services?  Will they be willing to pay more for your services?


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