Four Steps for Making Effective Requests that Produces Results


Making and managing requests that produce results is difficult work for many people, regardless of whether they are in a formal leadership position.

Causes of the problem could include: social anxiety, poor interpersonal communication, fear, impatience, lack of self-awareness, and/or lack of understanding of what makes a good request.

Here are four steps for making an effective request:

1. Start with “I” language:

  • Describe the current reality
  • Describe what data you have or the circumstances with which you are dissatisfied
  • Be specific and concrete in your use of language

Example: “Jerry, I’ve run a report recently and I would like to talk to you about the high rate of absenteeism on your team on Mondays and Fridays, which seems to be occurring at a rate twice that of your peers.”

2. Use the “SSD Rule” to make your request

  • Specific
  • Succinct
  • Deadline-driven

Example: “Specifically, I’d like to ask that you decrease absenteeism on your team by 10% over the next quarter.”

3. Take an “Other” orientation & offer Support:

  • Be willing to listen/negotiate the terms of your request
  • Be empathetic
  • Ask for more information
  • Provide resources and/or emotional support

Example: “I understand that managing a team can be challenging, so would you be willing to share what you think might be causing the absenteeism on your team? What support do you need to be successful in meeting this request?”

4. Ensure accountability:

  • Use “if, then” statements to discuss the positive (and/or negative) consequences of the request
  • Build in “check in” conversations between the request and deadline to monitor progress
  • Don’t forget your feelings

Example: “If you are able to decrease absenteeism by 10%, then you could avoid a $5,000 loss in productivity. I’m confident that you can make this change happen and improve the productivity of your team. Let’s meet next next month to check in.”

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