She may not always give you the answer you want, but she’ll give you the one you need to hear. She’s the one you can trust to tell you like it is.
He may not be known for his tact or for “putting it gently.” And he may annoy you on occasion when he starts poking holes in your newest business idea.
But, when you’re a business owner, you need them around.
I’m talking about the brutally-honest employee.
As a business owner, you know your company best. You have the passion and determination to deliver high quality products and services to your customers. You have the vision for growth. And you have the vested interest in seeing your idea through.
Unfortunately, all of that passion can sometimes overpower logic and may cause you, like any well-intentioned business owner, to miss red flags, great opportunities, or signs that it’s time to change. It’s human nature – you love your business and think it’s the best thing since sliced bread – but sometimes that love gives us blinders.
One of the great things about owning a small business is that decision-making can be “agile.” We can change much on a whim, a luxury that large companies don’t experience because they’re hindered by red tape and layers of approvals.
In order to change, though, every business owner needs someone who can see the need for change and is willing to speak up about it. This person is invaluable, because he or she looks out for the good of the company without ulterior motives.
The “Yes Man” can lead you astray by not challenging your ideas. It is important to remember not to shoot the messenger. Instead, take a step back and consider what they have to say. Sometimes that additional candid consideration can lead you to move forward with confidence, refine your plan or maybe, even scrap the idea.
A successful entrepreneur named Kirill Sheynkman was interviewed by Inc about this very topic and discussed how having a “real jerk” on board was one of the keys to his success. He learned the lesson the hard way, after failing when he didn’t have one on his team.
“’The truth is you can get lucky once, twice, even four times. That happens.’ But at some point, your luck will run out. When that happens, your company will need to have built a strong foundation capable of weathering the storm. The only way to establish that foundation is by being brutally objective about the weaknesses of your business and fighting to fix or eliminate them.
Sometimes, it takes a jerk to do that.”
Do you have a “bad guy” in your office that you trust to point out the hard truth?