As a leader, you will have to make decisions. Lots of them. And you’ll probably spend significant amounts of time and energy trying to make unbiased, fair decisions. But you’ll also probably discover that finding the right balance is quite the challenge.
Here are some ways to help you try to shift the scales a little.
Focus on the Outcomes of Your Decisions
Will your decision-making process result in what fair distribution of inputs and outputs for everyone? These inputs include things like how you allocate the workload amongst those involved or how everyone is offered opportunities to develop themselves. Outputs include end results like who will get the rewards and recognition, and how much?
Focus on the Process of Your Decisions
Your team will also be judging your ability to be fair by judging how fair are you in making the decision. Regardless of outcomes, was your decision-making process inherently fair?
A typical example is during performance appraisals. Did you use the right criteria for evaluation or was it based on factors not related to work? Was assessing the subordinate for each criteria objective and unbiased or based on your most recent impression or how much you like the person?
Proactively chart their development and challenge them to take on tasks that have them go beyond their comfort zones, to give them a greater sense of achievement. At the same time, give them the space to express their non-conformist, idiosyncratic tendencies. As a leader, that may mean remaining humble and not letting the ego get in the way of allowing for their creative expressions.
Regardless of how you make the difficult calls and what happens after, it is critical that you communicate clearly your thinking process to the team. This transparency increases the trust your employees have for you, above and beyond your making the decision this time.
That said, you are not likely to make decisions perceived as fair by everyone, all of the time. So long as you have given careful thought, communicated those thoughts, and make your final call as objectively as possible, you would have done your job as a leader.