Stephen Hensley’s 15-Point Manifesto for Sales Performance – Point #6
You don’t have diversity unless you treat everyone differently.
Diversity is always the topic of discussion for most businesses that want to grow and be successful. You must be able to gain fresh perspectives to get your team or business outside the box. If you don’t, you’ll see your market share dwindle and employees leave for different opportunities. Building a diverse culture takes focus and awareness from every person in the company.
Here are three internal best practices, bringing diversity to the forefront of your business by treating everyone differently.
Art of Language
Many leaders believe they have to speak to everyone the same way or they’ll get in trouble. They derive the fear from, “If I don’t treat everyone the same, I’m biased towards certain people.” Instead, leaders should remove this notion and speak to everyone differently. Why? Well, everyone is different regardless of their race, age, gender, sexual orientation. The only thing we have in common is we are all human. That’s the key! Treat everyone as a human. Humans want and need distinct things; therefore, as a leader, you must expand your language to appeal to the masses.
I partnered with a sales manager in the commodity industry where this occurred. I found that many of his employees felt that he was fake or wasn’t genuine in how he spoke to them. This turned many of the employees off and they didn’t trust him. We worked through several strategies to build his language and awareness. When he ran meetings, huddles, coaching sessions, etc., he appealed to the group rather than certain people. He’s continued to build his language to treat everyone differently but equally. He’s now using language to show investment in to his team’s future, to propel them forward.
Not every employee needs to have the red carpet rolled out for them. Many businesses believe they have to give all employees the royal treatment to make them happy. The royal treatment should be for those that live the company values and perform at the highest levels. What does the royal treatment include? That’s for your business to decide, but they can include things like notable compensation increases, special events, monetary rewards, etc. When you give the royal treatment to everyone because you worry about pushback, you’re building resentment in your highest performers.
I partnered with a senior manager, and we were discussing this topic. I asked about how they conduct their annual review process in terms of increases for each employee. She said they use an average for scoring. For example, the average score had to be a three by the time they rated all employees (Scale 1-5). This means that some people had to receive a lower score to adjust to this average. If the manager wanted to rate someone a five, someone else would have to take a lower score or the average wouldn’t be met. If you want to keep the best talent, treat them differently. This isn’t the way to do it.
Think about the conversations you have daily. The only thing that holds true is that they’re all different. Unfortunately, many leaders try to have the same conversations with their employee’s. For example, the leader is conducting a one-on-one with each employee. There are certain points of conversation that need addressed like results, focus areas, etc. The problem is, most leaders use these conversations as a checklist item versus leveraging the diversity the employee brings to the team. When you think about elite conversations, it’s the conversation that brings out the employee’s unique experiences both personally and professionally.
I worked with a leader who leads a B2B sales team that had this same opportunity. The one-on-one process seemed like a formality, and they were just trying to get through it. Through our conversation, we found that he wasn’t have these elite conversations with his team. We brought out the employee’s unique experiences and used those to shape how they conducted business. This brought the team closer together. Everyone benefits when they share their unique perspectives.