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Why Do Managers Focus on Equality

I have been very clear that you can’t treat people equally, but you can treat them fairly. So why do so many managers strive for equality?

This is predominantly due to two reasons:

  1. Managers are busy and they look for the “fast” solution. Treating someone equally, or precedence, is fast and easy. Using judgement requires time to think things through.

  2. HR has scared managers into thinking that being fair, not equal, is a litigation risk.

I want to focus on the second reason. I think lawyers are a benefit to the company and should always be part of the equation. However, keep in mind what they do - they focus on risk mitigation. They don’t focus on things like engagement, profits, revenue, retention, etc. Making them the final say on personnel issues is dangerous, but they should be in the discussion.

If you can explain the reason behind the decision and why you felt it was fair, the lawyers may not be agree, but stick to your guns. Is there a chance that you will be sued? Yes. Dirty little secret, there always is. There is nothing you can do that shields you 100%.

The big reveal - fairness, honesty, and building solid relationships with your team along with ethical behavior is the best way to avoid litigation.

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