Taking the Balance Out of Treating Team Members Equally

Linda Dulye's picture

Do you treat your employees the same? In our view, the answer should be “sometimes.”

BalanceIt might not make immediate sense to treat each of your team members differently, but when viewed on an individual basis, we think it makes even more sense to have different guidelines for each person.

Here’s how imbalance can still add up to equality:

  • Standardize the rulebook. All of your team members should have the same basic rules to follow: Show up on time. Pay attention to detail. Respond to calls and emails promptly, for example. These are clear-cut guidelines that everyone on the team can understand and follow.


  • Customize the rules. With a standard framework of how the team will approach their work, smart managers look at how these rules apply to each individual. For example, for an employee with no children and no other obligations, “show up on time” means arriving at 8 a.m. To the employee that needs to shuttle three children to school before arriving to work, “on time” might be 8:45 – but not 9:30. Allowing this flexibility shows that you’re sensitive to the employee’s personal needs, but also holding them accountable for arriving to work when they say they will.


  • Communicate the difference. The easiest way to create the appearance of a double standard with your team is not sharing how the rules might be adjusted for each member of the team. Talk about how the rules of the road are the same for the entire team, but that the roads themselves might not look the same.

As a leader, your job is to ensure your team is engaged and delivering top-quality work – and you can’t do the latter without the former.

Treating each team member “equally different” can be a useful tool in your managerial workbench.


For more insights on 2-way communications, read the latest issue of our newsletter, Spectator-Free Workplace.


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.