The feeling of injustice is the main factor in the intention to leave a company, according to a study published in 2021 in the Human Resource Management Journal. Managers often have the reflex to take care of their leadership, the career prospects and the salary of their employees to motivate them. But they must generate a feeling of justice in their teams who, for their part, must be aware of their challenges.
In an article published in the fall 2023 edition of the journal Management, Jean-François Bertholet, Marie-Claude Gaudet and Emmanuelle Gril affirm that “the feeling of justice in business is an important predictor of staff turnover, performance and people’s health”. They propose five areas to ensure a feeling of organizational justice which will boost team motivation. Among these key principles, the authors recommend developing the skills of leaders on this notion and hiring managers who are committed to being fair.
“It’s important to take care of fairness!” During my interventions with managers and employees, I hear a lot that the feeling of injustice torpedoes the mobilization and commitment of the teams,” confirms Annie Boilard, president of the company of training and human resources Annie RH network. This feeling can in particular be generated by the incompetence of an employee, a delicate situation for the employer which can create turmoil within the team.
A caring but fair manager
“Managers must not confuse benevolence and lack of management courage,” insists Annie Boilard, for whom this quality does not justify accepting incompetence. “Kindness means taking the time to get to know the employee and being flexible to their needs. But one-off accommodations on performance gaps should not be a continuous rule that becomes inequitable and fuels injustice,” she warns.
The labor shortage also does not justify keeping an incompetent person on your team. “Keeping a person who does 50% of their job means promoting the wrong messages to employees,” underlines the expert. By implying that it’s okay to do half of what is expected for 100% of your salary, such a managerial posture undermines the credibility and morale of the team.
For their part, employees must realize that their judgment has its limits. “It’s easy to have the perception that a colleague is incompetent, and that’s sometimes true, but it’s not always justified when that feeling is felt by one person or a small group,” observes Annie Boilard. For example, a person who delegates a task that he has carried out for years to a colleague may judge him badly if he finds other ways to do it. “This experienced person may feel frustrated and a bias takes place,” underlines the trainer.
Teams must also understand that they do not understand all the steps necessary to manage a difficult employee. “They sometimes have the impression that nothing is happening, but on the one hand, what is happening is confidential and, on the other hand, the boss has to sort things out. Before concluding that an employee is incompetent, he must in particular check whether he is in the right place and ask himself whether he has been sufficiently trained and whether he has had sufficient tools,” underlines Annie Boilard. If the company decides to separate from the employee, with the exception of certain serious situations, labor law imposes steps (verbal, written notice, etc.) which are not necessarily visible to the team. “It’s not because I don’t see anything that nothing is happening,” emphasizes the expert.
But then, what can an employee do when frustrated by the proven incompetence of a colleague? If this situation persists — the problem is not linked to a recent personal event, for example — Annie Boilard recommends that he open up to his boss by talking about himself. “He can say to him: ‘I notice that I do 10 files a day while my colleague seems to do 5 and I find this unfair, because we have the same salary. I would like to understand your perspective on this situation and for you to recommend what I can do to help him make it 10 or to allow me to find peace about it,’” she suggests.
A more aggressive approach should be avoided. “Don’t ask your boss why he doesn’t do anything with this colleague! says the human resources expert. Speak to him with flexibility and openness, this will facilitate exchanges. »
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