People are not always going to agree. Conflict is a part of life, and therefore a part of work. It is inevitable that company leaders and employees will occasionally find themselves in disagreement on an issue, but there is one key way to minimize the tension over decisions: by being fair.
If employees believe that the processes used to make decisions that impact them are fair, they are by and far more willing to accept those decisions.
Whether your disagreement is about performance feedback, promotions or compensation, the fairness factor is paramount. Fortunately, there are clear guidelines on how to create and implement a fair decision-making process:
- Employees must understand the process. If they have no idea how decisions are reached, they cannot judge whether they are fair or not. The factors that influence a decision should be conveyed to the employee(s) it affects.
- Consistency is key. Leaders must utilize the same process for everyone in order to eliminate concerns about favoritism or preferential treatment.
- Similarly, leaders must actively avoid bias. Ensure that neither individuals nor groups of people are systematically excluded or treated in a negative manner. Sometimes bias can occur unintentionally; be aware of how others may perceive your actions and be proactive.
- Decisions should be made based on factual and accurate information. This information should be shared with the employee(s).
- Provide a way for employees to challenge decisions they feel are inaccurate.
- Processes should adhere to accepted standards and must be ethical.
- Employees should have a say in the process whenever possible. Contributing to the decision-making method provides employees with a sense of control, builds trust, and helps create a feeling of ownership.
Ensuring that your company’s decision-making procedures follow these guidelines will bring tangible benefits. Recent research indicates that perceptions of a fair recruiting process can influence whether or not applicants accept a job offer (Harold, et al., 2016). Fairness also has a positive impact on job performance, it reduces absenteeism, and it factors into employees’ decisions to leave or stay with a company (Colquitt, et al, 2001).
Cultivating a culture of fair decision making takes little more than some focus, time and thoughtfulness. It is effort well spent because, at all stages of the employee life cycle, fair decision making matters to your talent.
Colquitt, J. et al. (2001). Justice at the millennium: a meta-analytic review of 25 years of organizational justice research. Journal of Applied Psychology. 86 (3), 425 – 445
Harold, C. M. (2016). Investigating the effect of applicant justice perceptions on job offer acceptance. Personnel Psychology. 69, 199-127.