Let's talk about fairness at work. Why? Because emotions can get pretty intense if we feel somewhat treated unfairly.
Fairness doesn't mean to everyone the same thing
If we talk about fairness, we often think about equality. Being fair is treating all human beings the same way. This is more complicated than we think. In a labor law-related context for instance, apprentices, elderlies and handicapped are treated in a different way. Fairness can’t be measured in an objective way and also everyone experiences fairness differently and it is also a question of how it is interpreted.
If we are talking about fairness in a team, it’s definitely helpful to discuss with all team members, what fairness means to each one of them. If you don’t do this, everyone might have a different perseption on this topic when working on a project, which can lead to unhappiness and frustration along the way.
The following 3 key points should be discussed before hand:
1) Definition of fairness to each team member
2) Consequences of being fair and unfair
3) Define rules
Be careful when judging
We have now understood that fair und unfair has something to do with an individual conception. Most of the time we think that something is unfair if we start comparing ourselves with others. It’s important to understand though, that we always only compare specific aspects of others, we don’t compare the whole picture. Most of the time we love to pick the best aspects from the other person, such as successes, but we don’t (want to) see the effort others have put into this to get that far.
So should we stop comparing each other then? Well, it’s something humans simply do and it also helps to find orientation. What you can do is: ask yourself what exactly you are comparing and if you really took everything into consideration.
Jealousy wants to tell you something
Sometimes it’s hard to define what fair and what unfair is. Some are so motivated that they stay long hours at work or go networking whereas the others might leave at sharp 6pm the office. So who is fair here and who is unfair? One of them is doing the job they are getting paid for, the other one is super motivated and expects the same from her/his colleagues.
So what should you do? Ask yourself: what does this tell me? If somebody leaves the office super early every Friday and you get upset, this might be something you would also enjoy but you haven’t acknowledged so far. We tend to get angry and upset if we block out specific things which we actually admire. The moment you accept this, things will get better and you will not feel bad anymore.
Gain perspective and get help from outside
If we don’t do anything about problems and don’t communicate about feeling unfairly treated things will get bad in time. The problem will become more intense and being objective will become more difficult. This leads to irrational conclusions and things will get even worse. If nothing of the above mentioned helps, it’s time to consult a Mediator or a Coach. Talking to a 3rd party helps gain perspective and they can help you find a solution and work through this.