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How important is it to your employees that you treat them consistently with one another?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 200,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

 How important is it to your employees that you treat them consistently with one another?

  • Extremely: They want everyone to always be treated equally: 51.14%
  • Very: They'll tolerate some special treatment but not very much: 31.99%
  • Somewhat: Some want consistent treatment, while others don't seem to care: 11.34%
  • Not very: Most of them only worry about how they're treated themselves: 4.28%
  • Not at all: Special and different treatment is an accepted norm: 1.25%

Fair versus equal? The majority of you said your team members want consistency and equal treatment. Be sure you have a perspective on equal versus fair though. Should a new hire be held to the same equal standards of performance as a senior peer in a similar role? Should someone be given time off to handle a personal issue while another person who doesn't have a personal issue be denied the same time off? Equality absolutely matters on the vast majority of topics. Your challenge is figuring out when fairness comes into play and how to apply it. A big part of doing that right is explaining the difference to people and when you make decisions that aren't necessarily equal or consistent that you're able to explain to them why you did what you did and why it is fair. These are challenging topics to navigate. As long as you're doing what is right and explain things, you can have a productive conversation. Also be open to other perspectives on how to handle the situation because "fair" to you might not seem fair to someone else. Enlist the aid of trusted advisers for those challenging situations.


Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."