We have to stop this egalitarian notion that everyone in the workplace should be treated equally. Although everyone deserves respect and dignity, not everyone should be treated the same.

When Tiger Woods walks onto the golf course, no one expects to be treated like him — everyone knows he is a better golfer.

In Michael Jordan’s prime, when he got the ball, you knew that no matter what the defense tried, he was going to pull off some acrobatic feat to score.

And when Michael Phelps gets into the pool, who can compete?

Woods, Jordan and Phelps are simply better athletes — and that’s why they get the accolades and endorsements and earn the big bucks. Few question it.

Many may be jealous, but all have to concede that they deserve everything they get. And everyone wants to be like them.

So why is it so hard to do this in the workplace? Why can’t we accept that there are some employees who are star performers — individuals who are more talented, who excel in their jobs, who are simply better performers?

These individuals perform at a higher level and earn more for the company — and the company would not be successful without them. Shouldn’t they be treated differently? Shouldn’t they receive more money, greater perks or higher praise? Let’s face it, every manager would do anything to have such an individual on his or her staff.

We sometimes have this belief that everyone should be treated the same and that by doing so, we will enjoy harmony and success.

This is so far from the truth. When you treat your stars just like the “also rans,” you lower everyone’s performance. But when you put your stars on the pedestal and lavish them with well-deserved praise, you begin to raise everyone’s performance. Focus on your stars, and your company will soar.

Managing people is hard and complicated because we often spend so much time addressing the same problems repeatedly. Let’s face it: Managers spend too much of their precious time addressing poorly performing employees — either the same problems or different problems with the same people.

These same managers lament that they squander 90 percent of their hours dealing with the bottom 10 percent of their work force.

When they are not counseling or disciplining them or somehow trying to compensate for them, they are finding themselves creating new, complicated, tamper-proof systems and procedures or hiring redundant people simply to compensate for these poor performers.

In all my years in consulting, working with Fortune 500s, not-for-profits or mom and pop stores, managers regularly tell me how exasperated they are by trying to manage poorly performing employees.

Why? Why do managers continue to do this? What was it that Einstein said about doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result? This has got to stop.

Every player on the PGA Tour has enjoyed Tiger’s absence because the playing field has leveled. They know that when he returns to the Masters, if they hope to compete, they are going to have to kick up their performance a notch or two.

When Tiger is playing, others become better golfers. He raises the level of everyone’s performance. And that’s why you treat stars differently.


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