Merge's Blog

Tag Archives: fairness

So what is fairness anyway?

fairness - equivalent, not equalHow employees perceive fairness in the workplace is very important (as this funny video about an experiment with capuchin monkeys demonstrates), but in my conversations with leaders, I make it a point to separate equality from equivalency.  This may sound like I’m splitting hairs, but let me explain.

Fairness cannot be equal

Fairness should not (and cannot) be equal, it must be equivalent.  In other words, good leaders don’t treat all their employees exactly the same, rather they adapt their approaches to be more effective for different employees. Sure, that can translate into differences in how policies are interpreted and how rules are enforced, which may cause complaining, particularly from those employees who may feel like they are getting the raw end of the bargain.

Focus on doing the right thing … for the company AND the employee

Chances are that the employee who complains is likely the one who would complain about unfairness no matter what action or approach you took.  Continue reading

Be thoughtful about how you’re communicating information to your team

Most leaders I know are deliberate and thoughtful about ensuring that their employees feel like they are treated equivalently (after all, wanting to be treated fairly is a primal instinct).  But there is one circumstance in which this good intention often goes amiss.  I’m talking communicating information to the team.  I’ll start by saying that this communication failure is usually never intentional.

Business people talking togetherThere are some employees with whom you have more vocal or friendly relationships.  I’m talking about the team members who pop in to your office to chat about their weekends, or those ask you about your kids at the coffee machine.  And because you’re having more frequent conversations with these staff, you tend to talk about stuff.  And some of this “stuff” has to do with new workplace initiatives, or recent discussions at the senior management table, or process changes being considered.  Not surprisingly, these employees repeat this “stuff” to their co-workers, and suddenly, without you even realizing it, the rest of your team thinks you’re playing favourites when it comes to communicating information that’s important.  Definitely not what you’d intended, or likely even thought about!  But it’s something you need to be aware of. Continue reading

(Perceived) fairness is important if you are a leader

Fairness. Wanting to be treated fairly is a primal instinct. A concept worth considering if you are a leader. Watch this very illustrative video of an experiment conducted by Frans de Waal, famed Dutch primatologist and ethologist. This particular experiment observed how a Capuchin monkey behaved when she was exposed to what she perceived as unfairness. If nothing else, it’s highly entertaining and you’ll likely laugh out loud.

Funny and enlightening, isn’t it? Given that human beings are primates, this certainly offers serious food for thought as to how employees might feel when they perceive that they are being treated unfairly compared to their peers.

Every good leader I know understands the importance of treating employees fairly. Continue reading