“Oh, I didn’t realize that. OK, I’ll talk to Michelle at lunch and tell her I want to work with her.”
Brian’s leg was still going a mile a minute. Susan waited a few seconds and asked, “Brian, is there something else you want to ask me?”
“Um, yes. It’s not really about career development, but I don’t know when the right time is.”
“Well, ask away.”
“I want to take a big bicycling trip this summer, four weeks worth. That’s not career development, that’s sort of personal development. I don’t care if I take two weeks without pay or something like that. But I don’t know when to ask. Is that possible?” Brian’s leg was threatening lift-off from his body.
“Sure it is. I’m really glad you told me now, so we can plan for that much time off.” Susan smiled and Brian’s leg stopped.
Susan had similar conversations with a similar structure with each staff member, because she treats people fairly, not equally. That’s because each person is unique. But in one way she does treat each person exactly the same—with respect.
What makes one person happy might make another person miserable. Most people want a challenging job; a job they can make their own decisions about. Susan’s team members make their own decisions about their career development. Susan facilitates their decisions and obtains the funds—she does not decide for the individual. How could she? She doesn’t know what each person wants or needs. Susan is not a mind reader.
People want a fair working environment. They want regular feedback about their performance, meaning when they do something good or not so good. They don’t want feedback once a year—that’s too late. When people are ready for more responsibility, they want to be able to stop working on tasks that are no longer challenging, and they want to start working on tasks that are challenging, regardless of where the challenge is. Sometimes, that challenge is in understanding the acceptance criteria for stories. Sometimes, the challenge is in facilitation. Sometimes, it’s pairing with the DBA.
People want fair compensation. And, in return, they will work at a sustainable pace, providing the best work they can for the organization.
That’s what people want from work.
You can’t provide that if you treat people equally, because people are not equal. We are unique individuals. As long as we have to treat people equally, we will end up with unequal situations. As long as we treat people fairly, we will end up with a fair workplace. And that creates a wonderful place in which to work.
So, forget the myth of treating every person precisely the same way. Be transparent and tell people you will treat them fairly.
Read all of Johanna's Management Myths here:
- The Myth of 100% Utilization
- Only the 'Expert' Can Perform This Work
- We Must Treat Everyone the Same Way
- I Don't Need One-on-Ones
- We Must Have an Objective Ranking System
- I Can Save Everyone
- I Am Too Valuable to Take a Vacation
- I Can Still Do Significant Technical Work
- We Have No Time for Training
- I Can Measure the Work by the Time People Spend at Work
- The Team Needs a Cheerleader!
- I Must Promote the Best Technical Person to Be a Manager
- I Must Never Admit My Mistakes