Hey! That’s Not Fair!

Do fair environments breed fair performance?

Something that is “fair” usually means it’s not bad or unacceptable, but it’s also not great. It’s uninspiring and blah. Think about what it means when “fair” is the answer to these questions:

How do you feel today? Fair.

How are your grades at school? Fair.

How did you do in the game? Fair.

How did you perform at the office today? Fair.

How does your boss feel you are doing? Fair.

Should we consider “fair” as acceptable? No, of course not! Yet, as a leader, how do I treat everyone fairly without promoting fair performance? Should I treat and reward my high performing employees the same as those who under perform?

What does being fair mean?

Fair means that we allow everyone the opportunity and freedom to perform by providing them with training, coaching, and candid feedback.

This involves holding others accountable and being honest if their performance lacks. We must realize that when we shy aware from critical conversations we are not being fair to the person’s growth opportunities. A leader is responsible to give everyone fairness in opportunity.

What does being fair not mean?

Even though we provide an environment that equips everyone for success, not everyone will perform at the same standard. How leaders reinforce performance is crucial, and this is where “being fair” begins to be redefined.

Is it fair to give a high performer more latitude? Yes.

Is it fair to spend more time with your high performers? Yes.

Is it fair to let people go when they are consistently under performing? Yes.

Is it fair to let someone go home early when they hit their goals? Yes.

Is it fair to not let someone go home early when they are behind on their goals? Yes.

Is it fair to promote a performer over someone who has been there longer? Yes.

The leader’s job is to steward the growth of the company. Therefore their fairness philosophy should be to make sure everyone has the same chance to be a top performer and then reward those who take that opportunity and do something with it.

Being fair and rewarding fair are two very different philosophies. Being fair by ensuring that everyone has the chance to perform breeds high standards and a culture of performance. Rewarding fair by striving to treat everyone the same regardless of their performance creates an atmosphere of excuses and complaints.

A quick way to measure the fairness philosophy of a company or team is to see who is leaving. Very seldom will top performers stay in an environment that treats everyone the same, and likewise, seldom will under performers stay in an environment that rewards high achievers. That just wouldn’t be fair.

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