Fair Is Not Equal When Managing

Some see fairness as equal treatment of all members of their team. Equal is often seen as “same”. I recently attended a training class, given by Mockingbird Education that focused on high risk learners. The trainer, Tamara Thompson, made a statement that fair is not equal. She said that, with high risk learners, individual circumstances are key factors in their ability and openness to learning. One student may say to a teacher,   “ that’s not fair, you didn’t make the others do what I had to do” and there may be very good reasons why that is so.

Effective management is not about uniformity. It is one-on-one. That’s a high skill: to treat all team members as individuals, with differing skill sets and circumstances, and still be fair. Fairness then becomes subjective, pertaining to the characteristics of particular situations and people. If fairness becomes subjective, your values as a manager rise in importance and become your guide.


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