During our professional career, we often have managers, mentors, people who have accompanied us during our career, who have marked us more than others. They are generally people who have touched us, who have made us grow, who have pushed us beyond what we thought we were capable of doing. This way of managing, and it is very important to keep it in mind, is based on the ability to reconcile the notion of being demanding and benevolent.
Recently, and especially during the COVID crisis that we went through, many themes around benevolence have been developed: benevolence, well-being, happiness at work, and so on. We have seen teams and employees say quite clearly that they lack challenge, that they lack feedback, that they lack vision, meaning, but also the ability to feel challenged and supported. What we are saying here is that as a manager, it is all very well to be vigilant about being benevolent, but how can we ensure that we balance the notion of benevolence with demands?
So let's start with the requirement. What does it mean? The requirement is made up of several things.
It consists of the will to accompany the person in the success of his objectives. And so, it is first of all to give objectives that are clear, precise, and that are accompanied by measurable indicators. In short: Set precise and measurable objectives that are conducive to the person's success. That is to say, you have to set the objective in such a way that it is the person's responsibility.
Secondly, the requirement is to give feedback. It is the fact of telling the person that you see that he/she is successful, but it is also challenging the person on what he/she does less well, what he/she does less well. It's pushing them out of their comfort zones into territory where they are less comfortable, but where they are learning. It is the positive requirement of a manager, of a leader who says to the person: "The more I am demanding with you, the more it means that I am interested in you! Because in the end, someone who never pays attention, who is not demanding, is considered as just being nice.
Thirdly, the requirement is also to be careful not to accept what we will call here the "bag of bad reasons". Today, there are many of them and the most frequent is often: "I didn't have time". The requirement is also to know how to say to yourself: "Ok, how can I help my collaborator to prioritize?", but you must not give up at the first "suitcase of good reasons" by saying: "Yes, poor thing, you didn't have time, so you're not going to do it. It's a mindset, it's a posture, it's accompanying the person in the success of their objective, not letting go, giving the necessary tools and skills, training, accompanying... But above all, not letting go of what is expected of the person.
It is also to transmit to the person the notion of co-responsibility. Each of us in the team is co-responsible for the success of the team as a whole, and therefore, if you are demanding of your collaborator, it means that you strongly believe that he or she must contribute to the team and not only to his or her own success.
When we talk about benevolence, we can also simplify it by the notion of respect. It doesn't necessarily mean sympathy, but it can mean empathy. So what does it mean? Simply that I am sensitive to the energy in which the person is, I listen to him, I am sensitive to his needs, his motivations. I check that we are in a constructive dialogue and I check that I am on an equal footing with my collaborator and not in a kind of boss or little boss management.
So, what can be interesting is to say that on the matrix, too much requirement and not enough benevolence, it generally results in a lot of stress, a lot of tension, a lot of tension. Too much benevolence and not enough requirement, it gives a bit of a cocoon, nice, gentle side, but people say: "Yeah, it's really nice, but I don't develop too much". And so the whole subject is really going to be to say to yourself: "How do I make sure that I really balance the two?", and to achieve this, you will have to associate a notion of requirement and a notion of benevolence to each moment of interaction with your employees.
We all have a natural tendency to be more demanding or more benevolent, and therefore we all spend our professional careers as managers trying to balance the pillar we are perhaps less comfortable with. But in both cases, what is important is to have these notions in mind. If you want to revise the notion of feedback, which is an integral part of benevolence and requirement, do not hesitate to read our article about the art of feedback.
Read the article on feedback