Being a Fair Manager

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There is no room for doubt about your managerial practices when dealing with your team members. Treating people with respect and dealing with everyone in a fair and open matter are just two of many essential requirements for managerial success. 

Traits of a Fair Manager

A fair manager is one who treats every person they encounter with respect and fairness. There are a number of behaviors you can adopt to be considered a fair and impartial manager.

Follow the Golden Rule

Treat everyone you encounter as you would like to be treated. If you did not like the way you were treated by a manager in your past, do your best to not act like them.

Model the Rules and Behaviors

When you follow the rules and apply them equally to everyone, you are being fair. Make sure you apply them to yourself as well. Your "do" must match your "tell," or people will lose trust in you. As a manager and leader, your employees will either emulate your behavior or detest it.

Many employees have done their time at the bottom of the totem pole observing the actions of their managers. There are too many managers who take advantage of their position for the little extra benefits employees do not receive. When those employees get the opportunity to lead, they tend to mirror those actions.

Extra coffee and smoke breaks, or leaving work early to take care of "family situations" too many times can breed resentment. Follow the same rules and allow yourself the same perks your employees receive or allow them the same ones you take. This will send signals of equality throughout your workforce.

Change the Rules When Necessary

If you sense that the rules are unfair to individuals or groups, cultivate the courage to change the rules. Just be sure that the reason you are changing it is really to increase fairness, not just to justify an outcome that might be better for a few individuals. Make sure the new rule is applied equally for all.

Be Considerate of Others

As you assign work, think about not only if you are doing it fairly, but consider how employees will perceive it. If you always assign the less desirable work to one employee because they don't complain about it, consider how it might affect them. It might be better to rotate the less desirable work so that everyone can join in on the fun.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

You should try to be honest with your employees. Tell them why their work is done the way it is. Explain why a specific procedure was put in place.

Let them know you can't talk to them about some aspects of work, but only if there really is a reason why you can't.

When leaders are honest, it breeds a culture of honesty in the workplace. This is a critical part of employee/manager relationships. If neither one believes the other, a toxic work relationship between the two develops.

Playing Favorites

If you have ever worked for a manager who played favorites or treated people with different standards of accountability and performance, you understand how destructive this behavior is to morale.

Managers should work to not refer to an employee as the star of a group, treating them differently and constantly praising them. Many managers use their star employee as an example for others to emulate causing the other workers to feel alienated and resentful.

There are benefits to praising in public. However, if you seem to be constantly praising the same worker, you may need to refocus on training and mentoring your remaining employees. Doing so increases the attention you show to all your employees and makes them feel valuable also.


Workplace politics is another pit many managers fall into. You should strive to quell any and all attempts of employees to curry favor with you. There are employees who will act in a manner to attempt to please you, much of the time in attempts to cover up inadequacies or receive better reviews.

There are employees who will gossip about co-workers to their managers, or about their manager to co-workers. Be wary of these types, as they tend to sow discord throughout a workforce.

Fairness in the Workplace

When you treat your employees fairly they focus on navigating the challenges in front of them. They feel respected, cared for, and they develop trust in you as a manager. Instead of focusing on gamesmanship or one-upmanship, employees focus on working towards individual and group goals. 

When you treat others fairly two things happen. Your employees notice and respect you for it. Your reputation for fair play reinforces their belief in you. Second, the people who you treat fairly will respond in kind. You are teaching through your actions and modeling the behavior of "fairness" in the workplace. 

Final Thoughts

Credibility is critical to your success as a manager. Nothing destroys credibility faster than the reputation that you play favorites or deal with people on an inconsistent basis.

Be deliberate and even-handed about how you assign work, offer praise and share feedback. The benefits of cultivating a reputation as a manager who deals with people in a fair and honest manner cannot be easily measured. 

There will always be those that are not content, no matter how fair you attempt to be. If you can look in the mirror every evening and tell yourself you were a fair and impartial manager that day, you were successful.