Savvy leaders can get past the idea that every person deserves the same size slice of accolades or punishment. Photo via Flickr (alexik).
Clearly men and women in police agencies have different strengths and weakness. As a leader, it's important to know your people and recognize these differences. It's also important to manage people based upon their individuality.
Something I learned years ago is that treating everyone "fairly" doesn't work! Rather, you must be equitable. What's the difference? I always say, "Fair happens once a year, and it's called the county fair." Equity should happen daily. Equity takes into consideration differences, while still giving everyone access to opportunity.
If you divide a pie among six people in a manner that is fair, each person will receive a piece of pie that is of equal size. People sometimes argue this point in the workplace — everyone should receive the same accolades or punishment for the same behavior.
An easy example for the law enforcement workplace that highlights my point involves two officers missing a subpoena for court. If we're being fair, both officers should receive the same consequence, a written notice in their record. However, if we're being equitable, we must take into consideration the total person.
If I have two officers who missed court and one has missed court several times in the past, giving both officers a written notice would not be fair. It would be equitable to give the first timer a written notice and the second officer with a pattern, a more severe consequence.
When supervising male and female officers, provide opportunities to all that will develop skill sets and ensure that both genders are able to compete for different jobs and be ready for promotion. Ensure you are fair about developing all of your people and equitable with opportunities.
If you manage men and women with equity, you maximize skill sets, develop all, provide opportunity for everyone to excel, and you create one heck of a high-functioning team.