Be Specific About Fairness
“That’s not fair!” I’ve blogged about this before: the schedule, workload, write ups, etc. Everywhere we see unfairness. Life, generally, is notoriously unfair.
Complaining about it, of course, wastes energy and doesn’t solve the problem. Oh, sure, it can help in the short term. For instance, if a schedule is posted and you see you have an extra evening shift, you can certainly complain that this is unfair. The boss might even spend time counting all the extra evenings that everyone has worked for the last six months, conclude that you’re correct, and give your shift to someone else.
Or your boss could say, “Too bad, you’re working the shift.” Great, now you’re working the lousy shift with resentment for being put in your place.
Fairness complaints always amount to “Look at what that person is getting!” Someone else always has a better shift, less time on the bench, more time in microbiology, fewer weekends, more overtime, more time on break, etc. It’s easy to complain about this stuff, because it happens all the time. It’s not possible to make everyone’s work experience the same, mathematically, emotionally, or otherwise. We see patterns of inequity because we want to, and because we don’t see ourselves as others do.
Question is when is “fairness” really “unfair?”
Beats me. Fairness complaints are usually too vague to know what to do beyond giving the complainer what he or she wants. This means taking something away from someone who complains less.
One solution is to be specific about fairness.
Bring your complaint, sure, but be specific about why it’s unfair, what it means to you and why, and what might be done to fix it. Recognize when and how this kind of complaint can sound petty and when it’s legitimate. Trying to define “fairness” for yourself often reveals those extremes, sometimes leaving you with a sobering choice to accept that this just isn’t your day or risk getting what you want at the expense of a coworker.
I know, I know. It’s not fair. It never is.
NEXT: Outsourcing Micro