Monday, April 11, 2011

The Fairness Conversation

One mark of a leader compared to a manager is how they handle "the fairness conversation".

We've all faced this one.  An employee comes to the office and points out that xyz isn't fair.  It could be that they don't get a shift differential but other positions do or that they don't get comp time.

The question then becomes, how does their boss respond?  New managers seem to often sympathize with the employee and then give the "but what can I do, it was decided on high, that's the way it is" conclusion.

A more seasoned manager may be more nuanced.  Measuring "fairness" doesn't mean that every person gets the same deal, some are hourly, some are salaried, some get lots of overtime, some little and so on.  Beyond that, what may seem "right" to one person, may not at all to the next and even if it did, could be completely unwieldy to implement.

The seasoned manager may include "it is the way that it is", but would include that with the greater context that compensation (and mostly, "fairness" questions seem to distill down to compensation in some fashion, even if it's who works harder) is not a measure of human worth but a best attempt to compensate employees for their work.

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