Why should productive employees who meet their numbers, complete their projects and show up consistently be treated the same as those who don’t? Who is being treated fairly when you treat the performers the same as the non-performers? When you treat these two very different employee types the same you also tell your staff the reward for performance is the same as the reward for non-performance.
When you aren’t holding people accountable for performance the stakeholders can suffer. Stakeholders can be anyone from shareholders to executive sponsors. Their return isn’t going to be as high if only half of your team is performing or if you team learns there is no accountability so they all stop working as hard. This can lead to missing key deliverables or completing a project over budget.
Recently we had a fundraiser where you could buy a thank-you card for those you want to show appreciation to. Shortly after the announcement of the thank-you cards another email came out that said all agents should receive one. Why should everyone get a thank-you card? Not everyone was deserving of one and in fact when they arrived only 1 week later some agents were no longer with us due to performance or behavioral issues, yet they received a card. A majority of the free world operates under the “everyone gets a gold star” philosophy. This is not only occurring in business but in elementary school through high-school to the point that people expect to be rewarded for average performance or even just showing up.
If you asked several people what fair is I bet you would get a couple of different answers. Fair is not something that is black or white, instead it operates in a grey place where perception often determines its meaning.
You could apply this same principle to favoritism. I know favoritism is a dirty word that no one likes to hear. Think about this, why wouldn’t your top performers be your favorites? Why would your non-performers be your favorites? How can someone who doesn’t do what they are supposed to in terms of productivity and in behaviors be someone you favor over an employee that does? That just doesn’t make sense.
Take some of these steps to ensure a level playing field where all of your employees know what is fair and what is not.
Lead by example.
As trite as it may sound and if you do nothing else do this. Employees model behavior that is rewarded and if you are working with a younger crowd they are students of your behavior. Don’t say one thing and do another. Don’t say one thing but let the opposite slide or go unaddressed. Once you ignore the infraction it will spread like a brush fire in the dry southwest. It certainly isn’t fair to allow some employees to do the opposite of what you say while expecting others to follow it. Do as I say not as you see me do has no place in a leaders tool box. Consistency is key.
Create a playbook.
Rule book, handbook, playbook whatever you want to call it have one and make sure all your employees understand. I love to play Monopoly and as a kid I found that with certain sets of friends the rules were always different. In fact sometimes they were different every time we passed go. Who can win a game with inconsistent rules? That made my favorite game my least favorite. If you are changing the rules on your employees or enforcing them only when it suits you it can make them not want to play which will hurt organizational and team performance.
Once you create your rules, document, communicate and follow-up to ensure everyone is still on track.
Take a seat in the objectivity chair.
You have to be objective. We all approach things from our own perspective. Don’t let your personal preferences cloud your judgment in making wise business choices. This is especially true when hiring or advancing your employees. Take a seat in your objectivity chair and consider your personal preferences as well as what is truly in the best interest of the company. My teachers in college used to tell me that I sat back in my objectivity chair and observed all that was going on around me, then when I spoke it was very thoughtful and eloquent. Try to remain open minded and look at all the angles before making your decision.
Win the right way and sleep better at night.
Whatever business you are in there is always competition and the goal of course is to win. Sign the client, sign the deal, and hire the right employee. In business you are always competing with someone for something. Make sure you are winning because of your hard work and because you did the right thing. Making mistakes or losing are okay but take the time to reflect and learn from those situations. In the long run you may just find that mistake or loss actually helped you achieve greater success.
More Actionable Advice:
Latest posts by Jason Cortel (see all)
- A Better Way to Have a Difficult Conversation - June 13, 2015
- Add These Tips from Grandma to Your Leadership Tool Kit - May 30, 2015
- Tuesday Tip: Start the Day with Clarity - May 26, 2015