Being "Fair"

Related terms:

Being “Fair”

I grew up with three brothers and three sisters, so my Mom had to have the wisdom of Solomon, and the ESP of The Amazing Kreskin. We rarely got away with anything. She was a substitute teacher for awhile at our local Jr. High School, and after the first class that she taught on her first day our friends were telling us, “She really does have eyes in the back of her head! We tried every stunt that we play on new subs, and she just laughed! She had her back to us, writing on the chalk board, and she knew who threw the spit wad without even turning around! She called them by name!”

Mom also developed a great way of making decisions as fair as possible. If one of my brothers and I wanted a candy bar, she would tell us that we had to split it. She would hand one of us the candy bar, the other one the knife, and whichever one of us got to cut the candy bar, the other one got to pick which half he got! My older brother would actually get out a ruler…

When trying to make things “fair” for employees, we need to keep in mind that they often interpret fair as being “what is best for them—and only them.” They may need some help understanding how any decision that you make for them also affects their coworkers. If they get to leave early, it leaves more work for someone else. If everyone always gets the same raise, the people who work harder, are never late to work, go the extra mile, etc. feel that their initiative is not appreciated.

More and more, it seems that we have to explain to employees the impact of their behaviors, including the unintended consequences. We need to tell them how other people interpret their actions, words and behaviors—and how this may determine whether or not their coworkers like them. It is necessary to go even further and talk about the longer-term consequences, and their overall job satisfaction.

Some specific ways to make the workplace as fair as possible include:

· Have an Employee Handbook and follow it consistently.

· Keep a brief record of conversations with individual employees so you can refer to them in the future, and verify what was said.

· Don’t focus on keeping things “even” between employees, focus on being fair and have some basic guidelines that you follow consistently as you deal with common situations—i.e. family illness, personal “emergencies”, etc.

· Explain why you are willing to do certain things for some employees, but are hesitant to do them for another one. (i.e. loaning tools, borrowing equipment, etc.)

We don’t all have the insight of my Mom, but a little creativity in how we establish fairness in the workplace will encourage our better employees, and challenge the mediocre ones to modify their attitudes.

Don Tyler