Some managers believe
that fairness means all employees must be treated the same, or equally. I
suggest that this belief represents a misguided understanding of fairness.
In fact, there is
nothing more unfair than treating un-equals as equals. In the retail
environment you will seriously, and adversely, affect the morale and
performance in the store by applying this old idea of being fair.
Performance of sales
associates depends on many, many things. Some of those things are out of the
Managers control. Things such as emotional problems, personal life issues
and health concerns – things which tend to weigh heavily on an individual
and could affect their ability to perform in their work – are out of a Store
Managers control. That is why it is so important to capitalize on the things
that are within a Managers control. They include incentives, recognition,
treatment, scheduling and training, among other things.
High performers deserve
to be treated differently than mediocre or poor performers. This is not to
say that fairness suffers. On the contrary, it supports the meaning of
fairness. Is it not fair that those who achieve great results receive
greater rewards? Is it not fair that those who achieve great results receive
the ‘fruits of their labor’ in other ways also? Of course it is. Not
providing greater rewards and recognition to these individuals would be very
Now let’s look at some
of the ways in which the high performer can be fairly treated, recognized or
compensated in the retail environment.
First, and foremost, is
compensation. You do not need to follow guidelines which treat all
individuals the same. Just as experience and length of time with a company
count, level of performance must also count. When all other things are
equal, performance must be the differentiator. Performance must be taken
into account when looking at compensation packages and promotions.
Beyond compensation, the
high performer should reap other, non-monetary rewards. For example, if a
particular shift is coveted by employees then the high performer should get
that shift. If a particular day off or, perhaps, a special assignment is
desirable then the high performer should receive it. Some would say that
this is unfair but it is not. High performance is what we want, what we
strive for, what we talk about, what we pay for, what we expect, what
delivers the best ROI and what we need to build, or maintain, a thriving
business. How could it possibly be unfair to provide good things for those
who are clearly and consistently delivering high performance?
Management who claim
that it is only fair to treat un-equals equally are probably unsure as to
how to deal with things any other way. They believe that everyone should be
treated the same. They don’t know how to tell the staff that the high
performer for the week does not have to clean the stock room or the wash
room. They don’t know how to deal with the complaints of the mediocre or
poor performers. They take the path of least resistance and treat everyone
High performers who are
treated the same as everyone else will look for a place where they are
recognized for who and what they are.
You can reach Matt Parmaks at
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