May 29, 2017
Do You Treat People Consistently or Equally?

Employment attorneys and HR practitioners like to admonish leaders to treat people consistently in terms of documentation and feedback. Yet every manager knows that employees are different, that what motivates one leaves the other cold, and that the fastest way to undermine morale is to give everyone the same raise and the same performance rating.

"You need to treat people consistently 
but also fairly."

Does consistency mean that you can never reward people differently? Does it mean that you dole out the same punishment when there's an infraction? Does it mean that everyone receives the same educational and training opportunities? 

The short answer is no. You need to treat people consistently but also fairly. As Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Airlines tweeted recently: "Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to."
What Should You Do?  
Make sure that you manage with the following principles:
  • Fairness requires that you hold everyone to consistent standards, but that the way people perform dictates what feedback and rewards they receive.
  • Fairness requires accurate feedback on performance and holding people accountable if they don't perform. 
  • Fairness requires judging people based on the time they're actually at work, not discounting their performance if they've taken approved PTO or medical leave. 
  • Fairness requires learning what individuals value. Knowing what they value will help you understand what motivates them. 
  • Fairness requires that you document performance consistently, not just for struggling employees.
  • Fairness requires that you can treat people differently based on their experience, education or the needs of the business.
As long as you're consistent in applying your standards, as well as those of your organization, you can treat people differently based on performance, infractions, their credentials or the needs of the business. What you can't do is apply inconsistent standards, play favorites based on something other than performance, or document only what some employees are doing or not doing.

Did You Know

All of our management and leadership classes help you resolve the issue of consistency and fairness.  

For more information, call or write us at: 303-216-1020 or [email protected]

Read Lynne's book "We Need to Talk" - Tough Conversations with Your Employee 
and learn to tackle any topic with sensitivity and smarts.


Workplaces That Work | (303) 216-1020 | [email protected] 
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