What it Means to be Fair – Five Important Steps

“What kind of manager do you want to be?” This is a question that’s becoming increasingly popular with hiring and HR managers during the interview process. The reason is simple: They want to get a feel for how in-touch the candidate is with the expectations of employees, and they’re looking for fit within their corporate culture.

If you were asked this question, now, as a CEO, what would be your answer? It is my opinion that ‘fair’ is an adjective to which executives and managers of all stripes should aspire. Here’s why…

“In one sense being fair means to be just and good. To be fair is to be honest and have integrity. Fairness implies appropriate weights and measure. To be fair means to give things the right weight and measure accurately.” Marc Gafni

To possess fairness is to own an all-encompassing characteristic that captures the essence of what it means to be a good manager. It’s the person who can see each and every situation for what it is, reaching the best outcomes, regardless of who is involved and the resulting consequences. And, it is the person who can manage teams and situations on what’s best for the company rather than what’s most popular.

For these reasons alone, a fair manager, and especially a fair CEO, is the person every organization should want at the helm. To help ensure you’re part of the coveted rank, try implementing the following tactics in your everyday interactions:

  1. Be honest. Being fair means being honest and up-front with everyone on your team or affected by your influence, and expecting the same in return. Dishonesty is never fair.
  2. Don’t play favorites. One of the biggest mistakes a manager can make is to adopt a favorite. This makes it extremely difficult to side against that individual, even when situations demand it. It also makes it hard to delegate in an unbiased (and thus, fair) manner. The only option is to steer clear of choosing favorites.
  3. Be well-informed. To be fair in any situation requires having all the information. It’s never wise to make a decision without a conscious information-gathering effort.
  4. Communicate. Just like you need all the information to make decisions, your employees need all the information to do their job effectively. Fair managers make sure they have it.
  5. Be okay with it. Being fair, strangely, isn’t always the popular approach. A good manager understands that fairness always prevails and is what employees desire most in the end. He or she will choose it even when it’s not popular because it’s the right thing to do.

Remember that being fair isn’t easy. If it were, it wouldn’t be such a highly sought-after trait. As Victor Hugo, French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic Movement, once said, “Being good is easy, what is difficult is being just.” The key is to dedicate yourself to the effort and make conscious decisions toward it each and every day.