I often get the question about how important it is to treat everyone fairly in your practice. I usually respond with a question. I ask, “Do you mean fair, or do you mean the same?” These are two very different things.
Fairness is a subjective term and is based largely on the perception of the individual. The first thing kids say when they aren’t getting what they want is, “That’s not fair.” The truth is, it’s just different than what they want.
Many people believe fairness means everyone in the practice receives the same things. In my experience, that is one of the least fair things possible. People show up with different talents, attitudes, skills, levels of effort, and contributions. If they all get the same thing, we’ve been unfair to everyone involved. This is especially true for those who contribute less effort and engagement. We have sent a clear message to them that they can do less and still get more in our practice. That’s just not a fair thing to do.
Equality is completely different. It often gets misconstrued as everyone getting the same thing. What equality means is that everyone has the same chance to succeed, the same opportunity to develop, the same great coaching, and the same interest in growth by the leaders of the practice. It doesn’t mean that pay or perks or praise are the same across the board. That just ensures mediocrity.
Reflections Around Fairness
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it fair to spend more time coaching your poor performers than you do your superstars?
- Is it fair to reward people who contribute less to the success of the practice the same as you reward those who contribute more?
- Is it fair to your people to allow your practice to be less successful than it could?
- Is it fair to allow someone to stay in a job where they are not happy or successful?
- Is it fair to allow people to be less than they are capable of in your practice?
Success is fair and it leads to more opportunities for everyone involved in helping a practice achieve it. We have a responsibility as leaders to think about fairness a little differently.