Earning a reputation as a fair and unbiased manager is harder than it sounds, says a new article from Harvard Business Review, noting that there is no objective measure of fairness.
Are you focusing on the outcomes of your decisions or on the decision-making process itself? How you arrive at your decision will carry as much weight in how you are perceived as the actual decision.
The author notes that whether employees place more importance on process or outcome depends on which they hear about first. Therefore, when you’re using a fair process that might lead to an unfair allocation, be sure to provide details about the process before your team learns of the decision.
Sounds easy enough, but you also need to clarify what you mean by fairness. Are you aiming for equality or equity? While equality would suggest it’s best to have the same process or outcome for everyone, an equitable definition of fairness allows for either the process or the outcome to vary based on some legitimate difference among people—for example, giving more vacation days to employees who have a longer tenure with the company.
Let your goals dictate which definition you use. When you are trying to strengthen teamwork and connection, an equal distribution of the outcome can be useful, the author says. However, using an equitable process is more likely to spur individual performance.
See the full HBR article: “How to Earn a Reputation as a Fair Manager”