The Bible is clear – everyone has intrinsic value and worth. God loves us all and there are no favorites in His kingdom. As leaders, we try to live that out every day. The problem is, we get into trouble when we use that principle when evaluating our team. Every church, ministry, nonprofit, or business has employees or volunteers, and while we should appreciate them all equally, some of those employees bring greater value to the table.
Throughout the Bible, God chose different people for different purposes. Regardless of how much people may have wanted to help design and build Solomon’s temple, God only chose gifted artists. The disciples weren’t picked at random. God had already selected David as King long before anyone else saw he had potential.
When you’re developing your team, valuing everyone equally is a disaster. High achievers will go nuts if they’re forced to work next to or in tandem with low achievers. Likewise, low achievers won’t like working next to high achievers. Some need incentives and others don’t. We all work in different ways.
I know one TV station who decades ago, hired a 20-something graphic designer. He had a mohawk haircut, tattoos everywhere, and dressed like a punk rocker (back when that just wasn’t done). The other employees couldn’t stand him. He wanted to work late at night, play loud music, and keep his space a mess. He was driving everyone else nuts. When the other employees had enough, they all signed a petition to get him fired. So the boss had a choice – treat him like everyone else, or treat him differently.
Fortunately, that boss had the vision to treat him differently. He allowed him to shift to rock star hours and work all night. He came in when no one else was there so he didn’t bother anyone. Then to everyone’s surprise, the designer turned out to be a creative genius. Within a few months, the branding, marketing, website, print – everything about the TV station was updated and looked fantastic. He completely turned that ministry around, and as a result – the other employees got excited about the mission!
Treat everyone on your team the same, and you might keep the peace, but you’ll miss the jewels. Evaluate them differently, mentor them differently, and reward them differently. It’s not about making it obvious, being overtly preferential, or creating favorites. And it’s certainly not about making some feel valued and others not. It’s about different values for different things people bring to the table. It’s about getting inside their heads and understanding what motivates and inspires them.
We’re all different. So leaders, it’s time to stop treating us all the same.