Justice or Just a Crap-shoot? A Small Business Question.

Every business needs policies, rules, do’s and don’ts. Do you have them clearly defined for your business? Or… like many small businesses are they nebulous and loose? Ouch!

Justice is defined as the fair and impartial assignment of merited rewards and punishments.

As a business owner, it is imperative that you respond to the actions of your team, swiftly and fairly. Things that happen in your business from day to day will require you to be the purveyor of justice.

If something needs correcting, correct it, and do it quickly and discretely. Don’t let a cancer form inside of your organization. If something happens that is worthy of reward, reward it. And do it loud and in public. The key is to be swift and decisive and most of all be fair.


Many times Justice is a difficult task. It often means that you must discipline an employee for a violation that took place. People are just that, people, and people sometimes do dumb things. One of the hardest things we do as business leaders is disciplining great employees.

The key to discipline is justice.

By definition justice is fair and impartial. Punishment and or reprimand done justly can actually boost morale. Your team needs to know that they work in a safe, fair environment where their rights are protected. They deserve to know that when rules are violated, the offender will be dealt with. Rules actually give people freedom.


Justice does not just cover the reaction to a negative action, it also includes a reward. When a team member goes above and beyond, you, as their leader, should recognize that in some way.
Have you ever felt like you went way above and beyond the call of duty, you knew that your superior saw what you had accomplished, yet he or she never even said “thank you”, or “good job”? There is little more disheartening and demoralizing than not being recognized for hard work. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your team members.

Rewards do not need to be lavish…

A reward could include, a handshake or a pat on the back accompanied by a compliment and a thank you. It could be a mention in a team meeting or a blurb in a newsletter. It could be a written note of commendation presented in the midst of that employee’s peers. Whatever you decide is appropriate is just fine. The key is consistency and fairness. Don’t reward someone for an average performance. Additionally, don’t skip over someone that has gone the extra mile. These things will breed discontent and resentment. I wouldn’t reward everyone the same, some employees will get a handshake whereas, some may be treated to a weekend holiday with a company like Blueboard. It completely depends on the reason behind the reward. If they’ve got the company a new $1-million dollar contract, off on holiday they’ll go!

This was a tough one for me. I would go home at night and talk about my day with my wife. I’d tell her that so-and-so did a great job today. She would ask me if I recognized the great work. “Did you say thank you, or give so-and-so a pat on the back?” Generally the answer was no, I was too busy and besides so-and-so knows how I feel. Wrong!!

Don’t assume that your team knows that they are appreciated. When you are running around like a wild man trying to run your business, it is very easy to loose sight of that. Slow down, recognize, be present. Easier said than done right… for me that’s where my wife played a key role. Who will play that tole for you? If you need help in this area, find someone… do it soon.

Define the rules of the game

If you have never needed to establish guidelines for punishment and reward in your organization, then you are probably a sole proprietor, and you are your organization.

If you do have a team, one thing is for certain, people are unpredictable. If you have a team, they will surprise you with a job well done on one day, then turn around and leave you scratching your head the next. How will you deal with it?

Be decisive, be timely and be fair.

If you have tips or tricks that help you in this area, please share them in the comment section of this post. I’m sure that your fellow business leaders would appreciate it… As for me… I could use all the help I can get!!