The Importance of Accommodating Employee Differences


There are so many ways in which people are different, and we’re constantly saying to each other “I’m right, you’re wrong, you’ve got to change”. So, just to take one example, there are morning people and night people — and this is a real thing; it’s to a large extent genetically hardwired and a function of age – and if there’s a morning person who’s saying to a night person “well, if you want to get back into running, you’ve got to get up early and do it first thing every day before you go to work.” That’s good advice if you’re a morning person – that would work for me, I’m a morning person – but, night people are at their most creative and energetic later in the day. So, for them to try to get up even earlier to go for a run, they’re not setting themselves up for success.

You have to think about, well, what kind of person are we talking about? Because that’s going to affect our habits. Same thing with abstaining and moderating. When facing a strong temptation, some people are like me and they find it much easier to give something up altogether, but once they start, they have a lot of trouble stopping. So I can eat no cookies, or I can eat seven cookies, but I can’t have one cookie. I’m an abstainer. Moderators do much better when they have a little bit, when they have something sometimes, so they’ll keep a package of cookies in the pantry for weeks and just have a cookie every day. I could never do that. That package of cookies is going to drive me crazy until it’s all gone.

But again, often moderators and abstainers are telling each other that they’re doing it wrong. An abstainer like me says “you should give something up cold turkey, why don’t you stick to the rules?” and moderators say to abstainers like me “oh you should learn how to manage yourself better, give yourself a cheat day, just have a little bit” – which doesn’t work for me. 

So when you understand how people are alike and how they’re different, and you realize it’s not that one person’s right and one person’s wrong – both ways are right –  it’s just a question of bringing our circumstances and our environments into a place so that everyone can flourish.

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