How to Best Support Yes Buts

This post is part of a series for school leaders working on implementing large-scale, learning-focused school change. Your success depends not just on your technical knowledge about the initiative, but also how well you understand the three kinds of staff in your school (Yahoos, Yes Buts, and NFWs) and how their support needs differ.

The Yes Buts seem hesitant and skeptical of the initiatives with their questions of “but what about this and what about that?”

This post focuses on how to best support the Yes Buts.

As described in the previous post, Yes Buts will work with you when they feel supported.

And that support is critical. We cannot assume that they know how to do the work of the initiative nor that they are willing to put a lot of their own time and energy into inventing new strategies. They need good examples.  They need good “how-to” instruction. And they need support trying it out in their classroom and getting to a practical and reasonable level of implementation.

Where Yahoos have little legitimacy with Yes Buts, other Yes Buts have a lot of legitimacy with their peers.  As much as possible, we must share Yes But strategies and Yes But examples of success. You can share Yahoo examples, but you better just share them as good examples/strategies, but mask the fact that it came from a Yahoo, or the idea will loose legitimacy.

When Yes Buts have their anxieties authentically addressed, and they feel supported, they sometimes get to the level of implementation in an initiative where they see positive results of the effort (e.g., better student results, better student attitude, the new way is easier than the old way, the new way gets better outcomes than the old way), and they become a Convert!

A Convert is a powerful tool for moving your school initiative forward. They have the enthusiasm that a Yahoo brings, but with all the legitimacy of being a Yes But. Treat your Converts well and use them liberally to help move the other Yes Buts deeper into the initiative.

You should be putting about 70-80% of your energy into supporting the Yes Buts.  This is the group where you will get real results and have a chance of actually seeing the needle move. But, conversely, not putting enough support, or the right kind of support, into your Yes Buts will stall your initiative.

Next in the series: How we misunderstand NFWs.

About Mike Muir

I'm an educator interested in collaborating with other educators on engaging all learners, proficiency-based learning, technology's role in learning, and leadership for school change.
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  1. Pingback: Working With A Diverse Staff: The Complete Series | Multiple Pathways

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