Why The “Yes Man” Culture Ends With Start Ups

A well-paying job is major for anyone's livelihood. Unemployment and underemployment can be really difficult to deal with. Because most people don't want to experience the woes associated with a lack of employment, it's not uncommon to find employees who are totally okay with being “yes men”. A “yes man” is someone who literally answers in the affirmative to anything his or her superior wants or needs. Even if it goes against their moral code, there are some people who will remain “yes men” because it helps secure their position at a company. Now, in some cases, being a “yes man” might be considered a good thing. Yes men are usually flexible and will bend over backward to help out. Yes men will see a vision, and even if they don't fully agree with it, they'll spur it on and help support it. Yes men are usually pretty reliable and will go far. They'll experience the beauty and joys of leadership and growth. However, there is a time when being a yes man can get old and/or detrimental. Since a yes man always says yes, it's hard to know and/or get a good gauge on what they truly think. In circumstances where opinions are welcomed, colleagues may find it hard to get a good gauge on where a yes man stands. In a start-up environment, a yes man will soar to the top, but they might plateau if they don't find ways to break out of the “yes man” mentality.

Creativity Freedom

Creating an environment for more creative freedom and liberty can do wonders for the yes man. Begin to encourage activities where it is vital for everyone to share their perspective or opinion on a specific subject. The change won't happen overnight, but as long as an environment like this gets fostered, the more comfortable people will become. The more comfortable people become, the more likely they are going to share how they truly see a situation. Icebreakers, company get-togethers, think tanks, and strategy sessions are great ideas for coworkers to get past any formal barriers and become more comfortable around one another.


No one gets it right 100% of the time. No one is perfect. Knowing this, it is important for employers to give their employees the allowance to be human and make mistakes. Sure, mistakes must be avoided if possible. However, most of the biggest lessons learned come from a place where someone messed up.


When a person is educated, they're more confident. Remember that education isn't just formal education at a college or university. After reading a few articles in the paper on a certain subject, a person becomes more confident in sharing what they know because they've studied it. When a person is more confident, they can stand by their convictions and offer valuable wisdom to a company. Encourage employees to attend seminars, read books, and become more knowledgeable about different subjects. These efforts produce a more well-rounded employee who will have a lot to confidently offer the company.

Another practical way to put an end to the “yes man” mindset is through negotiations training. The skill of negotiating will take any person far and can be applied to almost all areas of life. In this setting, training that intentionally teaches employees about the value of negotiating will encourage them to put this information to use. Negotiation is often motivated by the inner desires a person has. The yes man normally squelches those desires in order to save face. Getting into the practice of negotiating will help to eliminate the dissonance between expressing their desires to get what they want and the desire to play it safe and say what's politically correct.

Yes, there will always be an element of political correctness in any company. There needs to be some form of decorum and order. However, when a company is in need of creativity and innovation, yes men don't make the cut. By implementing these concepts into the work culture, the “yes man” mindset will end.

This guest post is courtesy of Dennis Hung. 

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