Is payroll the department that likes to say ‘no’? Is payroll the department that likes to say ‘no’?

Is payroll the department that likes to say ‘no’?
31 Aug 2015

The title of this article will be fairly contentious, but unfortunately in many organisations this is how we are seen. Even though we are generally the type of people who like to help - so what is going wrong?

Many of us will have had this feedback at some time or other:

• “Your team is obstructive”
• “You are a blocker to what we want to happen”
• “The feedback we get is that your team are unhelpful and say no without trying to help”.

Unfortunately, the fact that an important part of our job is keeping our organisations compliant with various types of legislation means that we do often find ourselves saying that some things cannot happen, because it isn’t legal, or puts the company at risk of non-compliance. That is a fact and there is no altering it.

Also, we are often presented with a ‘ready to go live’ project that someone has worked very hard on. They have not, however, utilised the skills and knowledge available to make it workable. They take it badly when a payroller has to tell them that there policy or innovation isn’t compliant, or that you have no resource to work on it until Q4 next year.

So what can we do?

If you research how to say ‘no’ you will get conflicting advice. Many theoretical and Zenlike posts will give some excellent tips on how to do this constructively. But there are also many career guiding blogs saying you shouldn’t ever say no - that it will kill your career.

There are times when we have to say no, but let’s think about making this a little smarter. Instead of saying ‘no’ when you are confronted with something, ask for the full details, take it away and really think about it and research some different options.

If it is a new policy or way of paying people that you know isn’t compliant, instead of saying “no you can’t do that”, go back and say “I have looked into this and I’m afraid the way it is now will not be compliant, however I have looked into it and here are your options”. This will take the emphasis away from ‘no’.

You will not be seen as someone who is obstructive, rather you will be the person who stopped something happening that could have cost a lot of money, but still managed to find a solution. Ensure you train this way of working into your teams!

Remember that this is not about someone else getting their way and you losing a fight. As a nation we don’t like confrontation and tend to be a little passive-aggressive in nature for this reason.

Make your feelings known in a positive way and don’t wait until you are so frustrated by the situation that you behave negatively and lose credibility. You need to work with the other party to seek a resolution that you can all work with.

Think about your wording

I have heard payroll people say: “Who decided this? They obviously don’t have a clue!” Don’t rain on someone’s parade when they have worked hard on something. You can constructively go through the points of concern without making someone wish they hadn’t bothered to get you involved and give that feedback to a senior leader.

This is where the “likes to say no” comes in. It can appear that you actually revel in the destruction of someone’s plans, or making them look incompetent. Acknowledge the benefits of the plan and help to tweak it to compliance and efficiency. You may be invited to be involved at an earlier stage if you are able to demonstrate the value of this, which really is better for you and your team.

Resources are always an issue

Nowadays, departments do not often run with the resources to allow for unforeseen projects or challenges. Anything that comes your way is going to add extra pressure to your team. There are some things you can do to bring awareness of your workload:

• Build and publish a roadmap with on-going commitments. People will be able to see where your pinch points are and will be aware of these when making requests.
• Ensure you have a full service level agreement document published. Many people won’t realise how many different things you and your team do, or how many high-pressure deadlines you have to work to.
• Work hard to get involved in projects as early as possible. This will help you plan resource around the stages in the project that will impact your team, as well as preventing being presented with noncompliant or unworkable solutions. You will be there to give guidance during the design of the solution.

These suggestions may not stop the issues from happening, but it will be much more difficult for people to plead ignorance and much easier to negotiate solutions.

The way you say no, even to these frustrating problems can be key to how you are seen. Instead of arguing about the lateness or short notice, start with “I would like to help you hit the project deadlines, however as you will have seen from our roadmap…”

This will show willingness rather than obstructiveness (if you use negative responses it will not be taken well). Ask for details of what is required of your team and when. Not only does this make the requestor think about the impact on your team; you need to know what commitment will be needed in order to establish whether you can work around it or need to request more resources.

If you have detail in hand you can use this to justify a business case for the cost of resources (and maybe have this allocated to the project budget or other department) and it will give the organisation an idea of the true cost of the project. It also gives you a firm idea of the scope of your involvement and should enable you to prevent other things being passed your way that you haven’t agreed to.

Above all, remember that you can escalate an issue if there is one and you have tried everything else. Informing your manager will enable them to respond to any feedback they get and/or resolve a situation at a higher level if needed.

If you have detail in hand you can use this to justify a business case for the cost of resources (and maybe have this allocated to the project budget or other department) and it will give the organisation an idea of the true cost of the project. It also gives you a firm idea of the scope of your involvement and should enable you to prevent other things being passed your way that you haven’t agreed to.

Above all, remember that you can escalate an issue if there is one and you have tried everything else. Informing your manager will enable them to respond to any feedback they get and/or resolve a situation at a higher level if needed.

In summary, the key things to remember are:

• Be constructive and offer alternatives where possible
• Ask for a firm outline of impact on resources
• Get involved in projects as early as you can
• Don’t rubbish other peoples plans or ideas
• Don’t be afraid to escalate when you have done all you can, instead of giving in
• Remember all disputes are not about winning or losing – they are about finding a solution that everyone is satisfied with.

By Jeanette Hibbert

 

The title of this article will be fairly contentious, but unfortunately in many organisations this is how we are seen. Even though we are generally the type of people who like to help - so what is going wrong?

Many of us will have had this feedback at some time or other:

• “Your team is obstructive”
• “You are a blocker to what we want to happen”
• “The feedback we get is that your team are unhelpful and say no without trying to help”.

Unfortunately, the fact that an important part of our job is keeping our organisations compliant with various types of legislation means that we do often find ourselves saying that some things cannot happen, because it isn’t legal, or puts the company at risk of non-compliance. That is a fact and there is no altering it.

Also, we are often presented with a ‘ready to go live’ project that someone has worked very hard on. They have not, however, utilised the skills and knowledge available to make it workable. They take it badly when a payroller has to tell them that there policy or innovation isn’t compliant, or that you have no resource to work on it until Q4 next year.

So what can we do?

If you research how to say ‘no’ you will get conflicting advice. Many theoretical and Zenlike posts will give some excellent tips on how to do this constructively. But there are also many career guiding blogs saying you shouldn’t ever say no - that it will kill your career.

There are times when we have to say no, but let’s think about making this a little smarter. Instead of saying ‘no’ when you are confronted with something, ask for the full details, take it away and really think about it and research some different options.

If it is a new policy or way of paying people that you know isn’t compliant, instead of saying “no you can’t do that”, go back and say “I have looked into this and I’m afraid the way it is now will not be compliant, however I have looked into it and here are your options”. This will take the emphasis away from ‘no’.

You will not be seen as someone who is obstructive, rather you will be the person who stopped something happening that could have cost a lot of money, but still managed to find a solution. Ensure you train this way of working into your teams!

Remember that this is not about someone else getting their way and you losing a fight. As a nation we don’t like confrontation and tend to be a little passive-aggressive in nature for this reason.

Make your feelings known in a positive way and don’t wait until you are so frustrated by the situation that you behave negatively and lose credibility. You need to work with the other party to seek a resolution that you can all work with.

Think about your wording

I have heard payroll people say: “Who decided this? They obviously don’t have a clue!” Don’t rain on someone’s parade when they have worked hard on something. You can constructively go through the points of concern without making someone wish they hadn’t bothered to get you involved and give that feedback to a senior leader.

This is where the “likes to say no” comes in. It can appear that you actually revel in the destruction of someone’s plans, or making them look incompetent. Acknowledge the benefits of the plan and help to tweak it to compliance and efficiency. You may be invited to be involved at an earlier stage if you are able to demonstrate the value of this, which really is better for you and your team.

Resources are always an issue

Nowadays, departments do not often run with the resources to allow for unforeseen projects or challenges. Anything that comes your way is going to add extra pressure to your team. There are some things you can do to bring awareness of your workload:

• Build and publish a roadmap with on-going commitments. People will be able to see where your pinch points are and will be aware of these when making requests.
• Ensure you have a full service level agreement document published. Many people won’t realise how many different things you and your team do, or how many high-pressure deadlines you have to work to.
• Work hard to get involved in projects as early as possible. This will help you plan resource around the stages in the project that will impact your team, as well as preventing being presented with noncompliant or unworkable solutions. You will be there to give guidance during the design of the solution.

These suggestions may not stop the issues from happening, but it will be much more difficult for people to plead ignorance and much easier to negotiate solutions.

The way you say no, even to these frustrating problems can be key to how you are seen. Instead of arguing about the lateness or short notice, start with “I would like to help you hit the project deadlines, however as you will have seen from our roadmap…”

This will show willingness rather than obstructiveness (if you use negative responses it will not be taken well). Ask for details of what is required of your team and when. Not only does this make the requestor think about the impact on your team; you need to know what commitment will be needed in order to establish whether you can work around it or need to request more resources.

If you have detail in hand you can use this to justify a business case for the cost of resources (and maybe have this allocated to the project budget or other department) and it will give the organisation an idea of the true cost of the project. It also gives you a firm idea of the scope of your involvement and should enable you to prevent other things being passed your way that you haven’t agreed to.

Above all, remember that you can escalate an issue if there is one and you have tried everything else. Informing your manager will enable them to respond to any feedback they get and/or resolve a situation at a higher level if needed.

If you have detail in hand you can use this to justify a business case for the cost of resources (and maybe have this allocated to the project budget or other department) and it will give the organisation an idea of the true cost of the project. It also gives you a firm idea of the scope of your involvement and should enable you to prevent other things being passed your way that you haven’t agreed to.

Above all, remember that you can escalate an issue if there is one and you have tried everything else. Informing your manager will enable them to respond to any feedback they get and/or resolve a situation at a higher level if needed.

In summary, the key things to remember are:

• Be constructive and offer alternatives where possible
• Ask for a firm outline of impact on resources
• Get involved in projects as early as you can
• Don’t rubbish other peoples plans or ideas
• Don’t be afraid to escalate when you have done all you can, instead of giving in
• Remember all disputes are not about winning or losing – they are about finding a solution that everyone is satisfied with.

By Jeanette Hibbert