Abraham Lincoln wrote, “These men ask for just the same thing, fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as is in my power, they, and all others, shall have.”
Today, we live in a world where fairness alludes us. To a large extent it is because we have become too self-centered and have forgotten what many of us learned in kindergarten – the ethic of reciprocity, the golden rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Nowhere is this most perceptible than amongst the leadership within toxic workplaces.
If one is not fair in their dealings with others they are poor leaders – period. However, if you are fair, despite other character flaws, you garner respect and trust of others and this can be your most significant and rewarding legacy. In the research I conducted for my books, ‘The Bully’s Trap’ and ‘From Bully to Bull’s Eye – Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire’, I found that the number one stress factor at work is unfairness, particularly on how employees are assessed, treated and dealt with.
This was confirmed in a survey conducted in 2016 by Mental Health America and sponsored by the Faas Foundation. With over seventeen thousand respondents the survey revealed the following about workplace health:
- Only 17 percent feel that their employer often or always appropriately deals with co – workers who are not doing their jobs,
- Only 27 percent feel that employees are often or always held accountable for their work regardless of their position in the organization,
- Seventy seven percent of feel that people are being unfairly recognized while others with better experience or skills don’t get recognized.
- Less than 30 percent feel their organization has realistic expectations about their workload, and
- Only 36 percent feel that their supervisor often or always supports them if things go wrong.
Given these negative perceptions of staff management, it is not surprising that 69 percent of respondents admitted to speaking poorly about their organization to others!!!!!
Over the last two decades , equity and harassment programs and training has become a multi-billion dollar industry with precious little to show for it. The needle has barely moved a notch. Performance management systems, dreaded by both the manager and the subordinate, are exercises conducted once or twice and in most cases are used by employers to set the employee up for failure. They do not set in place procedures to motivate, develop and positively correct performance and or attitudes. If you hear that you are going to be put on a “performance review” – the ensuing thought is “I am toast!”
My research has shown that in toxic work environments, the human resources are usually part of the problem vs part of the solution.
Executives place proportionately more focus and attention on the shareholder than the other stakeholders. Duff McDonald in his book ‘The Golden Passport’ exposes the shift in philosophy at Harvard Business School, where the corporation only exists to create shareholder value and “papers and teachings released CEO’s institutional investors and Wall Streeters from the obligation of considering anything but their own narrow wants and needs.
I attribute my career successes to the balances relationships I have developed with all stakeholders, be they customers, investors, board directors, employees at all levels, vendors and the communities in which we operated. These relationships were based on a value exchange model. THE COVENANT. To illustrate, the employee/employer value exchange works this way:
First – the employer establishes a detailed list of expectations they have of the employee.
Second – the expectation list is tested for reasonableness.
Third – as part of the reasonableness test employees as asked to develop a detailed list of expectations they have of the employer to be able to deliver on the expectations the employer has of them.
Fourth – agreement is reached – which becomes THE COVENANT – and
Fifth – which is the most important which is to have regular and ongoing CRITICAL discussions using THE COVENANT as the framework for the discussions.
This model – INCREASES:
- Freedom of expression
Increasing the positives and decreasing the negatives, results in fairness, which results in higher individual and organizational performance, which results in value for all.
Editor’s Note: This is the sixth in a series of articles on the A-B C’s of Leadership, outlining the characteristics for effective leadership. Reprinted with permission of the author. Originally appeared on MoneyInc.com
About the Author: ANDREW FAAS (www.andrewfaas.com) is an author, activist, revolutionist, philanthropist and management advisor promoting psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces. Before becoming a philanthropist, he led some of Canada’s largest corporations for over three decades as a senior executive. He founded the Faas Foundation, which supports non-profit organizations concerned with workplace well-being and other personal health and research endeavors. Currently he is partnering with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence on a groundbreaking initiative, Emotion Revolution in the Workplace, which will revolutionize the way organizations operate, leveraging the power of emotional intelligence; and Mental Health America, to help reduce unnecessary stress factors at work and eliminate stigma around a condition that affects one in five adults. His latest book “From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire,” reveals deep-seated dangers of bullying to everyone who works pinpointing the identifying characteristics of bullies and outlining how bullying undermines corporate profitability and value and how CEOs and boards can remedy it.