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Fairness Is Good Management

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Fairness is just good management. We already know that if you want to be a good manager you have to be fair to all. But what does that mean? And how can you be fair more often to more people?

What Does Fairness Mean?

It is part of the quirkiness of the English language that fair means according to the relative merits of each or consistent with rules and logic. However, it also means moderately good or satisfactory. So a fair manager can mean either one who treats others fairly or one who is only moderately good as a manager. Our goal is the first meaning.

Why Is Fairness Good Management?

When asked, a group of almost 2200 people reported fairness as the most important trait of a boss for who whom they would want to work.

When you treat your employees fairly they spend less time worrying about who else is getting an unfair share. They don't spend a lot of time looking for ways to increase their own share. They spend less time looking for another job. And they spend more time working for you and getting more done.

When you treat others fairly two things happen. Your own employees notice and respect you for it. It reinforces their belief that you are treating them fairly and will continue to do so. Second, the other people who you treat fairly will respond in kind. You will get better cooperation from them. That makes your job and the job of your employees easier too.

How To Be A Fair Manager

A good manager is one who treats everyone fairly. That means his/her employees, but also his superiors, her peers, employees in other departments or companies, everyone.
  • The golden rule
    When you are fair, you treat others as you wish they would treat you.
  • No favorites
    A manager who is fair does not play favorites. You don't give anyone all the good jobs, or all the bad jobs, just because of how you feel about them. You treat them as the unique individuals they are.
  • Don't take advantage
    When you're being fair, you don't take advantage of others based on your position as the manager. You don't treat someone unfairly just because you can and can get away with it.
  • Follow the rules
    When you follow the rules, and apply them equally to everyone, you are being fair. Make sure you apply them to yourself as well.
  • Change the rules
    Sometimes you have to change the rules. If the existing rule makes something unfair, you have to change it. Just be sure that the reason you are changing it really is to increase fairness, not just to justify an outcome that might be better for a favorite. Make sure the new rule is applied equally for all.
  • Think about how it affects others
    As you assign work, for example, think about whether you are doing it fairly, but also consider how other will perceive it. If you have a rule that everyone in the company has to pay $20 per month for the shared coffee in the lunch room, think about the stock clerk for whom that $20 is a major expense and about the accountant who doesn't drink coffee. Who does this rule affect them and is it fair?
  • Be honest
    Be honest with your employees. Tell them why things are done as they are. Tell them why a specific procedure was put in place. Tell them about things you can't tell them, but only if there really is a reason why you can't. When you are honest with them you are treating them equally. You aren't telling them that just because they aren't managers they don't deserve the information. And be honest with yourself too. Look at why you're doing the things you are and in the way you are.

Bottom Line

Being fair all the time to everyone is not easy. It's a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of time out of your day. It requires a lot of thought and planning. But the bottom line is that it's worth the effort.

You will get more work out of your employees if you treat them fairly. You will get more cooperation from other departments and other companies if you treat them fairly.

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