Thursday, August 20, 2015

It's Just Not Fair! Pt. II

The myth of fairness goes like this: the way to be fair is to treat everyone the same. That's only true if you're running a commune.  - Bruce Tulgan

Continuing on with our recent exploration of the perception of fairness in the workplace, I'd like to expand a bit on what can be done on your estate if - in direct contrast to our earlier post outlining how to handle the topic on your own (or if you're an Estate Manager with no actual authority from the Principals to manage the staff) - you find yourself employed as the Estate Manager... yet one with real managerial authority.

Here's where we begin to see the benefits of a meritocracy - any environment where advantages and rewards are realized based upon merit, not simply because a staff member has been employed the longest - or other factors unrelated to performance or value.

Workplace fairness is perhaps the most interesting topic I've found when determining the root causes of either success or failures among domestic staff. Often complicating matters are those cases when staff de facto become members of the family and Principals (and their Estate Managers) are negligent (or unauthorized) to conduct honest performance assessments, thus endangering the morale of the remainder of the staff - not to mention a failure to allow said staff member to understand what they really need to grow and become better performers over time.

Special treatment of staff members can be a valuable tool, yet it must be justified with special performance from the staff member - and then displayed openly for all to see. To simply make a staff member a favorite for personal reasons and bestow rewards while they slack or carry out other disruptive behaviors on the estate will only create resentment and - quite frankly - cause the estate to lose their actual, best performers. In a nutshell, unequal treatment of staff can be both fair and good if handled correctly, as meritocracies remove both the opportunity and need for staff tantrums and cries of unfairness, instead providing fertile ground for placing rewards where they are actually deserved. This ultimately improves morale, as the understanding of how performance is recognized on your team is then realized (not simply written in an employee handbook) - in full view. What could be ultimately more fair to both your team and each individual within?

If you find yourself the onsite Majordomo, with whatever title has been bestowed upon you - Household Manager, Estate Manager, the newly popular Director of Residences which seems to be popping up everywhere, or simply a more humble and realistic Chief Bottlewasher, I encourage you to view this video by Bruce Tulgan which I discovered by accident this morning, simply covering in just a few minutes the enormous opportunity for improving your workplace by, quite simply, not treating everyone the same - and by facing the what fairness really is.

Best wishes to everyone watching who may be the best of their own team's best - and be deserving of "Thursdays off" - and also congratulations to those Estate Managers who have both the good sense to recognize and the authority to grant those rewards which, through the "unfair" treatment of their staff, are able to create a truly fair high-performance meritocracy on their estate.

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