How Can I Be More Demanding Without Being Demeaning?

The Skill of Walking the Fine Line Between These Two Things

This past week there were a couple of situations that got me thinking about this…again. This is something I’ve struggled with my whole life. It comes down to who I am and who I need to be. Like everything in life there is a balance to be achieved.

Both situations had to do with sub-contractors.

First was a wood fencing project. The customer had some fence boards but not enough. I ordered out more than enough boards to finish the project.

I get a text from the sub, telling me that we need more fence boards. I assumed that I had mis-figured. I let the customer know that there is going to be another material delivery. Customer tells me to not forget to use the ones that they had. I called the sub. He tells me that there weren’t any fence boards there. I go by the job site and there they were…right where they were when I showed them to him.

Back to the question…How can I be more demanding, without being demeaning?

I think the sub just got focused on the stack of new fence boards and forgot about the others.

The problem is that this oversight cost me. I now have boards that were the customer’s and I can’t return them. They will need to be stored in a shop that is already overcrowded.

How should I handle this so that the sub understands and shares in the responsibility, without demeaning them?

Some people wouldn’t have any issues in deducting this cost from the sub. But this might cause the sub to not want to do future projects and it can be hard to find qualified subs.

Second was the hanging of some sheetrock on a small project that was being done by a painter. I went by to check on things and the piece of drywall that was installed…was installed wrong. They had a cut edge rather than the finished edge in the middle of the ceiling.

I had him take it down and turn it around.

In both of these instances I was uncomfortable saying anything and I’m still not sure what I’m going to do about the fence boards.

Ultimately both come down to clearly explained expectations.

Explaining specifics on individual projects as well as overall expectations.

I have high expectations for myself, I assume that everyone else has this same level of expectation…not so.

Because of these differences I need to be hypervigilant in explaining and communicating what I expect. This will require more time and effort on my part and I’m already running short on both.

One of the things that makes this balance hard to find is that everything is different for everyone. What is reasonable for one person might be hurtful to another.

The thing I need to remember is that ultimately, my responsibility to the customer is more important than the feelings of the sub.

This doesn’t mean the sub isn’t important. It means the sub and I are supposed to be working together to fulfill the dream of the customer. Not fighting each other to see who can take advantage of the other.

It’s not supposed to be a competition.

I’m still not sure exactly how I’m going to be more demanding without being demeaning…but I’m going to work toward accomplishing that.

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