When leaders aren’t consistent with one another, it can have a negative impact on team member morale, on the company’s performance and on fellow leaders. The most frequent areas of inconsistency are the enforcement of company rules, policies and procedures and the way the leaders interact with their teams.
Some supervisors will tend to come across as heavy handed while other leaders are too easy going and accommodating. Neither extreme is desirable. What we do want is for leaders to be firm, fair and consistent.
Here are three tips for increasing the consistency of the leadership approach in your organization:
#1 Agree on the Expectations
As a leadership team, get together and discuss the inconsistencies in the application of work rules, policies and procedures. Decide where it makes sense to allow some discretion and latitude and where it ends up causing problems. One group of supervisors recently discussed how it is nice to reward a hardworking employee by allowing him to clean up a few minutes before the end of the shift but then inevitably other team members who aren’t as hard working tend to also finish a few minutes early and claim that it is unfair that some people get to finish early while others don’t. Instead of special work favors, it would be better for the leader to offer deserved praise while being consistent about work stop times.
#2 Apply the Consequences
Remember that consequences can be either positive or corrective. Leaders should acknowledge and offer positive feedback when a team member is meeting or exceeding expectations. And when the team member isn’t meeting expectations regarding job performance or behaviors, the leader will need to comment and correct. Depending on the severity and frequency of the performance or behavior problem, the leader will need to escalate the consequences accordingly. When a leader looks the other way, or fails to apply corrective consequences the other team members will lose respect for the leader and resent the fact that their fellow team members ‘get away with it’.
#3 Resolve the Inconsistencies
Inevitably there will be situations where an inconsistency will be noticed. The leadership team should talk openly about the inconsistency and decide on how to send a common message going forward. Leaders who continue to deviate from the agreed set of standards may need additional coaching and correction from their manager. Ultimately, supervisors who are unable or unwilling to maintain a set of standards will need to be replaced.
When you as a leader can be seen as more consistent with the enforcement of policies, rules and procedures, the work group will tend to perform better and the morale and attitude will increase.
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