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Jason-

Since there seems to be so much that we disagree on related to fairness, allow me to reply to your last post:

I do not think that we should let the organization be “run by employee perception,” I simply think that we need to be a bit more serious about making sure that the employee perception is a) sought out, b) understood, and c) sincerely considered as we make decisions. It can be very easy for us to sit in a room full of HR and OD people and determine what other people need or what other people need to do…but I think that this is a faulty practice. I would even suggest that this is a large contributor to why most organizational change initiatives do not succeed.

Anytime we are in favor of anything other than transparency, I have to wonder why. I know that it is easier that way. I know that there is research showing that pay transparency can contribute to negative outcomes…and the same thing can be said about an issue that I do a lot of work with, diversity. Increasing the diversity or the difference in a workplace can lead to increased conflict, increased turnover, and decreased productivity. But those outcomes are not about difference, they are about the organizational culture and about individual skills and behaviors. Pay transparency can certainly lead to some issues if leaders are not good at setting expectations and consistently communicating feedback on behavior. The problems are not about transparency, but rather they are about a lack of capacity and skill for an open and honest culture.

I also do not think this is as simple as saying that the organizations that do not do it right will find themselves out of business…most companies find themselves out of business eventually for one reason or another. The organizational lifespan is not terribly long and there are a lot of factors that contribute to this. I think that we actually need to consider some new standards for evaluating organizational performance. Profit (which is also not a good predictor of longevity) is often aggressively pursued in the short term at significant long term cost. Fairness is probably a good example of this.

Personally, I am not that interested in what employees are entitled to or what organizations are entitled to. I am interested in what people and organizations are capable of. That requires that the organization and the employer be open, honest and courageous. I don’t really think we can have real fairness (or perceived fairness) without this.
-joe
Fairness, part 1
Fairness, part 2
Fairness, part 3

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