Requiring and relating, Part 2

Last time we examined the concept of "The 2R Manager," by Peter Friedes, who says leaders need to be able to relate to their people, but also enforce deadlines and deliver feedback to be effective. You're not helping your staff when you're managing to be liked, but you're also not leading well when you're all business. A good manager, Friedes says, is adept at requiring and relating (the two Rs from the book's title).

In the last newsletter we examined what to do if you're good at requiring, but not so hot at relating - a common problem. The answer, Friedes says, is to talk to employees about their work and how you can help, not about their personal lives, which many think you have to inquire about to relate. Helping your staffers jump project hurdles or challenges will show you care about their work and progress just as much as if you kept tabs on their personal lives.

On the flip side are those who have trouble requiring - the overrelaters. Overrelaters want to be liked and worry that by enforcing a deadline or giving negative feedback to an employee, they won't be liked anymore. They think they're doing what they should by forging strong relationships with their staffs, but by ignoring feedback, they're shortchanging everyone. Employees can't improve if they don't know what they're doing wrong, and they'll never know if their manager doesn't clue them in.

"Overrelaters don't really help people that much, they don't help them grow," Friedes says. "Overrelaters should want a long-term relationship [with employees], not a short-term one - you can't be liked on every instance."

While overrequirers need to start by listening to employees, overrelaters need to start asserting themselves. Friedes advises starting with "I" assertions, direct statements of what you think, feel, need or want. For example, "I don't agree with your assessment" or "I hear what you're saying, but I still feel we risk losing market share with this pricing." Later, you can move on to "When you..." statements, "When you [insert bad behavior here], these are the consequences and here's how it affects me."

"What you're doing is giving people the feedback they need to get results," Friedes says. "It's learning how to say what you want to say when you want to say it. The relater is always looking for clues on whether the person likes them a lot, but they need to develop the confidence to develop an assertive stance."

I got a lot out of "The 2R Manager" and recommend it if you want to improve your requiring or relating skills. It's very easy to identify your natural management style in this book, and Friedes offers specific ways for you to improve your weaker skills. It's a practical and easy to digest book that, if applied correctly, could go a long way in improving your management.

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