If you have read my earlier Nuggets, you saw that I advised subordinates to negotiate away some of their previous assignments and tasks when asked by managers to take on new assignments and workloads.

Now, I am going to suggest to you, leaders and managers, just the opposite action strategy when a direct report comes to you to negotiate changes to, reassignments of, or elimination of, priorities and workloads.


When an employee comes to horse trade priorities or assignments, if those assignments were important at the time you delegated them, they ought to still be important now. You selected that employee for good reasons and those reasons have not changed. Find a pleasant way to say it, but be sure the message is clear and that the message is “No” to bartering away previous workloads or assignments.

I could take the rationale of this all the way up to the macro economic level. The nation, America, needs to boost its productivity. Productivity means more work OUTPUT per employee. That means everyone in the nation has to become more economically productive and that happens by working harder and longer to handle more work units and more output. The same rationale applies to your company, your division, your department, your direct reports.

When your direct report asks to negotiate away any important task or responsibility, nicely say “No”.