Life is not fair. How many times did you hear that growing up?
“People expect their leaders to help them to achieve the common task, to build the synergy of teamwork, and to respond to individuals and meet their needs” ― John Adair
I often get questions on how to deal with people in certain situations in leadership interacting or communicating with a team, such as what ratio of positive to constructive feedback to give people. The answer and with many questions in leadership is “it depends”. There are few hard and fast rules to leadership (Marshall Goldsmith highlights a few here) but many gray areas because you are dealing with people and people are different and ever-changing and thank goodness for that.
The answer to the feedback question is it depends on the person. Some of us need more praise than others for the feedback to be absorbed and applied and others need just a little.
Treating Them Fairly Doesn’t Mean Treating Them The Same.
How do you treat your team members differently without upsetting other team members? The answer is to treat them as individuals, not a generic group. As I discussed in this post, teams are built one relationship at a time. People have different needs, performance levels, personalities, work styles, motivations, and goals.
As a leader, you need to treat your team members the way they need and want to be treated to feel appreciated and empowered in whatever message you are conveying. Once you take this approach, the team members won’t be concerned about how you are treating others because their needs are being met.
The problem stems from leaders not taking the time to really get to know their team members, so they end up treating everyone the same and that is usually how they think they themselves would like to be treated.
Is there someone on your team who likes a different work environment than you, has different career goals than you, or a completely different hobby? Of course, there is, so stop treating people how you like to be treated and ask them what they like, i.e. how they like to receive feedback, how they like to be appreciated (see post on appreciation), and how they like to be supervised, etc.
Think about your family members or your teammates. Are they different than you? Yes, absolutely, so why should you all be treated the same? Too often, leaders are afraid to upset people if they do not treat everyone the same, when, in actual fact, effective leaders treat individuals differently but equally.
Your action this week is to connect with each of your team members and ask them one way they like to be shown appreciation or like to receive feedback.
Until next week… Embrace the Adventure!
Shawn Stratton is an international leadership and team building consultant, professional speaker, bestselling author, Ironman competitor, expedition guide and podcast host.