Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Request or requirement?

I offer this tidbit in response to the dozens of managers I’ve worked with, who are stumped by their employees’ lack of accountability.

Here’s an example of what I might hear:

Leader/Manager: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked Jim to submit his report by the 30th of the month. Yet, each month I have to chase him down to receive it. What doesn’t he get??”

One question I often ask, in return: “Is this a request you’re making of Jim, or is it a requirement of his job?”

As managers, when we’re experiencing significant challenges relating to our employees’ applying learned skills, meeting deadlines, or submitting expected deliverables, we must ask ourselves: Have I stated this as a request or a requirement?

Then we must—if we want to make people accountable—ask ourselves: Have I been clear about the expectations? Have I set specific target dates for deliverables? Have I promptly stated the business impact and/or consequences when the employee does not meet the expectations or targets? More importantly, are there any consequences to this individual not meeting the job requirement?

Requests can be put off if someone is swamped. Requirements need to be met, and generally are.

So the simple yet loaded question remains—Request or requirement?



  Susan wrote @

Thanks, Donna, for posting this important distinction between request and requirement. All too often we find that some managers act as if everything they request is a requirement, with little appreciation and/or awareness of the time commitments and workload of those they manage. I find this especially true in positions where managers may treat their employees as gophers rather than colleagues (often seen in positions where titles, degrees, and positions are viewed as subservient).

The question about requirement and request is certainly important in the areas of recruiting and interviewing. In today’s market there is often an expectation that since there are so many people looking for work that the true requirements get lost amidst the many requests, even if they become unreasonable.

Appreciate your tips and the various issues you raise. Regards,

  donnarawadyblog wrote @

Thanks for sharing your perspective Susan—interesting comment about the requirements getting lost in the midst of so many requests. Donna

  Timothy wrote @

Always enjoy your blog entries. Its proven to be a great asset. I find it a useful refresher to techniques you have taught yet I sometimes fail to consider or apply in practice.
Kudos to you!

  donnarawadyblog wrote @

Tim, thank you! I’m delighted to know that you’ve found it helpful. Hope to see you soon.

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