Is Fair…Equal? DeMarco Banter

Is it a mistake to believe that leaders must treat all team members the same or equal?

whine-not-fair-cartoonLeaders are hired or promoted to win–not make everyone happy or give everyone equal time, equal money, or equal resources. Even though every team member must be given support and encouragement, to believe that all must receive the same treatment is not only unrealistic, it is destructive. Poor or even status quo performance should not be rewarded the same as outstanding contributions. If you were a superstar, what would you think when a “slacker” was receiving the same opportunities as you? Would you even continue to perform at your peak level?

Jack Welch talks about grades of excellence in his 2005 book Winning. Welch notes not all employees are created equal. Winning leaders appreciate the differences. A Leader’s failure to differentiate between stars, average performers, and laggards hurts performance. Accurate “differentiation” of talents- with recognition for outstanding people and units- transforms mediocre organizations into outstanding entities.

The superstars represent about 20% of any workforce, the middle tier 70%, and the laggards 10%. Celebrate the top tier with recognition and praise. Give middle-tier staffers motivation, feedback, and growth opportunities. This group represents the majority of team members, the biggest challenge, and the pool of future superstars. The bottom tier, plain and simple, needs to go. This may seem harsh, but a consistent, objective system serves everyone over time because it allows no hidden agendas or misunderstandings about job status or performance goals and sets clear expectations. So, is fair equal? Thoughts?

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