Macro-promise

The most preferred word of any manager is YES, no matter the executive floor or the discussion partners, especially when he gives an order.  And as any boss has a boss, receiving orders is universal rule of hierarchy.

There are reasonable orders even if they expand the limit of normality and there are orders that pierce through capability and sometimes logic.  There are feasible orders and orders in the close vicinity of impossible.  But the big boss always loves to hear YES.

After a possible and recommended preliminary analysis the manager receiving the order has two choices, the decisive YES and NO.  To say NO seems to be an uncomfortable and maybe dangerous alternative that can be interpreted as a declaration of lack of capacity, will or commitment towards the success of the company.  Hence the frequency of saying NO is insignificant because nobody enjoys being a loser at the corporate game table.

What if he says YES when his own analysis would suggest NO?  In such cases, not at all rare, the burden of making the improbable true is elegantly, swiftly or promptly transferred to subordinates – even if these may also say NO.  Will they?  Those still needing the job at least until they find another will also say YES as this seems to be the key to survival.  Those daring to say NO have to face the threat to become isolated, penalized and blocked in their future endeavors.

And so the chain of managerial weakness spirals down through hierarchy floors to reach the arena where the unverified promise finally confronts the real possibility.  The probable result of the game between reality and wishful thinking will likely deny the glory or satisfaction for each and every member of the chain of command.  The subordinates will feel being used as defenseless guinea pigs, the big boss will angrily find out his order was not executed without any timely explanations or contingency planning, and the boss who underestimated the risks and his partners will be splashed by everybody’s contempt.

Even though this story is probable and repeatable, there are so many managers not performing a reality check of their promises – thus being guilty of the second capital crime of management: the macro-promise.