Beware of the “Yes Men” in your office

Sucks ups, Yes Man, "how high" staff members, brown nose, apple-a-day the names for these characters go on and on...

Sucks ups, Yes Man, “how high” staff members, brown nose, apple-a-day the names for these characters go on and on…

It doesn’t matter whether you run a large corporate organisation, a middle-sized company or a start-up, every company has them.

Do you surround yourself with suck-ups? It’s time to get serious and ask yourself this question…

It’s perfectly natural to want to be with people who agree, support and praise you all the time. The fact of the matter is that we feel better knowing that we have people in our corner regardless of the issue.  It makes us feel important.

Suck-ups make us feel like we’re curled up with a warm blanket. “Everything is fine, it’ll work out, you are right you know, you usually are.” We feel safe with them. We trust them.

A classic example of “Yes men or suck-ups” are those trusted family or friends who for some reason tell their wannabe star relative or friend that they can sing.  They go onto X-Factor, then it’s over.  A verbal tirade of abuse, belittling and scolding from Mr Cowell, your neighbours, strangers for the next month or so leaves your never wanting to leave your house again.

But back to the office; are you the kind of leader who punishes people – overtly or oh-so-subtly – for speaking up and telling you things you don’t want to hear? Telling you the truth? Do you seek out people who affirm your decisions and actions?

No one wants to admit that they do this, but a quick glance at organizational life indicates that this is the sum of what we see today. We’ve all seen it: the leader is isolated from reality, surrounded by a small group of people who deliver the good news and hide the bad. His entire world-view is distorted, controlled by those who are feeding his or her perceptions. He personally thinks these people are protecting him. Watching his back.

Or, he simply doesn’t want to hear the truth, so he rewards the suck-ups of feel-good information by promoting them or something else of that nature and punishes the purveyors of truth.

Bottom line, we all need pockets of unconditional love and support in our lives.  But when it comes to the workplace and our role as leaders, it’s our responsibility to maintain a balanced perspective and stay attuned to the truth about our words and actions, the impact we have on others, and the perceptions we create.   It’s not easy to do, and having the right inner circle can make a tremendous difference.

As visionary business owners, many like to think they are the “stars of their show” and are thereby right about everything all of the time.

But let’s break out the smelling salts, it feels great having people around us that are likely to reinforce this notion every time we open our own mouths. The problem is though, is that these people are doing more harm than good, and not doing their jobs. They are merely paying lip service to both your good and not so good ideas.

Buying into these people often means you fail to see the actual talented people doing the work, coming up with great ideas all for the sake of the business, happy to give over their intellectual property.

As “Wall Street” character Gordon Gecko reminds us, “you need a friend, buy a dog”, because “it’s not always the most popular person who gets the job done”.

Leave it to your kids – at home – to worship their dad, but always keep good staff around – at work – who are not afraid to burst your bubble when it needs a little bursting in the long-term interest of your business.



  1. Jamie Culroy says:

    Didn’t expect to be so pulled into this article! It’s a really good read, but very true. Some bosses can be stuck up their own **** to see when some staff are really trying to do something good.

    A reality check I reckon

  2. Edin Oakley says:

    Nice post.

  3. Sabrina Brick says:

    This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your posts. Also, I’ve shared your website in my social networks! Nice work…

  4. Tiffany says:

    Huge thumb up for this blog post!

  5. […] The Yes Person: Someone who wants to please others so much that they never says no. This is a borderline Yes Man. […]

  6. […] a culture where your colleagues feel that they can talk, provide input and give feedback then you end up with a bunch of yes men; people that have developed what is also known as “group […]

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