Managing Employees: “When to Relate, When to Require”

Larry Tucker

Author: Larry Tucker

Executive Coaches of Orange County

One of the struggles of being a manager, especially a new manager, is: “How do I relate to my employees?” Sounds like a simple concept, doesn’t it?

My experience in working with nonprofits is that the same compassion that drives nonprofit leaders to become executive directors, for example, often too strongly influences their employee management style.  To test this, I often use an exercise I found in The 2R Manager: When to Relate, When to Require and How to do both Effectively, a short, but enlightening book by Peter E. Friedes. (Pete also happened to be CEO of the organization I used to work for!)

The exercise makes several statements about your management style and asks you to score them based on your own preferences and actions as a manager. After a little mathematical work, you roulette arrive at two scores, one representing how you relate to your employees and one showing how much you “require” of your employees.

Of course, this is a self-evaluation, so there is room for managers to misrepresent themselves, but the exercise always promotes valuable thought and discussion. Too high a “relating” score and too low a “requiring” score implies an environment where employees may be very comfortable in their roles and relationships to their leaders, but are less disciplined in driving to the goals that make for an effective organization. The reverse might imply an organization that is, or will be experiencing high turnover.

This is a worthy topic for your management team, regardless of whether you buy the book and take the test or simply initiate the discussion in your next leadership meeting.