When you’re a little kid, everything is unfair.
The fact that I had to go to bed before the end of a basketball game on TV. Or that my sister got birthday presents on her birthday but not me. Or that I couldn’t ride my bike out to the lake with my friends.
It wasn’t fair. So because it was unfair, I gave myself a license to throw a fit and act like a little jerk.
So when we did an internal promotion a couple of years ago, I heard the same refrain again. Only this time it was from a sales rep who thought he should have got the job. He berated the process, the people involved and the person chosen all because, in his mind at least, the process was completely unfair.
No hiring process is 100% fair. I don’t know about anyone else in our industry but I do my best to try to make the process as fair as possible. To take any non-job determining factors out of the equation is a minimum. To take active steps to ensure fairness throughout is just a good practice.
And that’s exactly what we did.
So what was unfair?
Our sales representative wasn’t prepared. He bad mouthed another co-worker. He inadvertently advertised that he lacked judgment and leadership we were looking for. We needed a person who could step into the role with minimum training. I knew from looking at everything in his background that he could do the job. He had the right skills. But by not showing up for the interview, he didn’t inspire the confidence of our group. We had several qualified candidates too so it wasn’t worth the risk.
It was totally unfair.
It was unfair that he wasn’t prepared. That he made it difficult for us to evaluate his fit for the position. That he didn’t give it 100%.
Organizations should concern themselves with fairness. They should make sure their human facing processes take advantage of that. But when employees and job candidates use fairness as a way to excuse poor performance, bad behavior and major mistakes, that’s not fair. Not to their employer. Not to the company they applied at. Not to themselves.
Fairness can be a real issue in business but it is never a reason to give less than your best.