Please or Register to create posts and topics.

Defaulting to yes in a new job?

Common advice. on career sites.

Good idea or not?

Obviously it's going to be yes with your boss.

But your going to meet a lot of new people and they will all have their list of demands.


Stef and selffriend have reacted to this post.

A lot of people do this default "yes", and later underperform. I personally don't like this behavior as a lot of people failed their promise, which is really important to me. If you can do it right, then accept this task. If you cannot, then don't accept it: it will be win-win for everyone.

Of course, everyone is different so things are much more complicated. A lot of people tasking you not because the task is important, but just to gain power. If you reject them, they will retaliate, isolate you, or even report you. Early on we don't really have resources to fight against value-takers, and even if we build up our front, fighting value takers will usually be loss-loss. So I don't really know the best answer.

Just my personal feelings. What is your wisdom?

Lucio Buffalmano, John Freeman and Transitioned have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoJohn FreemanTransitioned

I think my answer will overlap a lot with the principles from Career University or Power University.
My answer will not be comprehensive as well.

I think it boils down to this.
Saying 'yes' to something means saying 'no' to many other things. (Kind of like what the book The Power of a Positive No says)
As such, I will give my views in the context of priorities when in a new role.
What are your priorities in a new role?
Once you have your priorities down, it's much easier to know what to say 'yes' to and 'no' to.

To give a comprehensive answer, I think we need to tailor it towards the level in the hierarchy your new position entails.
Lucio has advised that the priorities shift according to your level in the hierarchy:

  • Individual contributor - focus on results
  • Mid-level manager - focus on networking
  • Executive - focus on results and relationship with CEO
  • CEO - focus on company results, get the public relations team to build your image

Though I think we can generalise this broadly to get a feel of the general principles.

Objective in First Few Months in a New Role

In the first few months, people want to see if you can add value to them.
More importantly, the people you are working with directly.
It's also good to build relationships with people close to you physically and will help you with administrative tasks.

I think this is universally true from the individual contributor role all the way up to the CEO level.
Unless you are a CEO who fires all the current C-suite executives and bring in your own clique.

I think there are a few parts to this:

  • Finding out what people consider as value
  • Delivering such value
  • Getting people to acknowledge the value you delivered


  • Software engineer
    • Find out what feature the manager & team is prioritising
      I would say in the beginning that this can be more important than what the client will gain from in terms of office politics.
    • Deliver this feature
  • Project manager
    • Upwards - what do the different stakeholders in this project want?
      Is there something you can deliver fast with high visibility given your team & resource constraints?
    • Downwards - is your team struggling because of resources constraints, conflicts, lack of context, etc?
      Is there a way you can solve this issue?
  • CEO
    • What does the board want in the next 3 months? 6 months? 1 year?
    • Is there something the board is particularly concerned about?
      Maybe that's why the shareholders brought you onboard in the first place.
    • Come out with the company strategy to meet these expectations
    • Manage the executive team - lead, hire, fire, delegate executives

Brief Points

  • Say 'yes' to low effort, high visibility tasks for quick wins to build a reputation as a value-giver
  • Say 'yes' to low effort tasks that will help you to evaluate the character & nature of colleagues, superiors, subordinates
  • Say 'no' to tasks that will not help you build credibility with people who will influence your career
  • Say 'no' if someone was tasking you disrespectfully
  • You can also negotiate the scope of tasks to maximise your interests

Setting Priorities & Expectations With Your Direct Boss

A good boss would initiate this conversation.
If not, you can initiate.

You: There are a few things to deliver upon.
What would you say is the key priority?

If there are too many things to work on,

You: I will follow your advice to focus on this key priority.
It will take up this amount of time.
It may be challenging to deliver on these other areas at the same time with these constraints.
Would we be able to follow this timeline instead? (shows timeline)

Lucio Buffalmano, Transitioned and selffriend have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoTransitionedselffriend

What selfriend said. I think it depends on the context: there is a spectrum. Do you have a specific example?

Transitioned and selffriend have reacted to this post.

Great input.  Thanks guys.  I m starting a gig tomorrow as an analyst team lead in a bank. Looks like it's onsite thankfully.  I work for the project manager (Brian) and he s delivering for the business sponsor (Liana) who s a director.

The first meeting with my boss (the PM) will be about his expectations.  Sequence will depend on him.  Normally then I have 1:1s with team (weekly) and once I know something about the team and work meet with other teams including business.

One of the first things I ll want from my boss is commitment to explain my role to the team to give me some firm ground.  If he doesn't then i ll say I ve consulted with boss and define it myself in front of the whole project team.

Normally I intro it by saying.  "I think we can all get behind the idea that great teams have roles and responsibilities.  That s our default way of working and as an agile team we flex when we need to by agreement.  The role I fill for the team is...blah blah."

I have much more PM experience than team lead so any advice on the PD side of this would be welcome.