When we build injustices into job designs, there seems to be no end to the self-inflicted misery. We get caught up in a vicious (red) cycle that I've pictured on the right. The only way to get out of the self-perpetuating dynamics is to see the system in play and the other virtuous (blue) cycle to adopt. Here's a walkthrough of those two thought processes, starting with the red cycle:
When we disregard issues of fairness in job designs, any job opening suffers a pattern of adverse selection. The candidates who find those job openings attractive are either:
- deadwood who seek to do the minimum and to maintain a low profile
- mercenaries who seek to get rich quickly by changing positions often and racheting up their pay scale with each change
- showboats who oversell their capabilities and come up short on deliverable results
- saboteurs who undermine customer satisfaction, inner harmony, product quality or supplier coordination
Together with management, these employees co-create experiences of injustice. Everyone is feeling betrayed by the others and unaware of doing this to themselves. Each agrees to be part of the problem and dedicated to perpetuating the misery. Employees feel the urge to take revenge in any of the many ways I explored yesterday. This produces evidence to management that it's futile to redesign the jobs in order to be more fair. This evidence then gets taken at face value, literally and without question. The red cycle is primed for another run through.
We can switch to job fairness (blue) by considering the cyclical nature of the evidence we're seeing. It does not come out of nowhere or come with the job candidates exclusively. The evidence is product of the mutual participation in a self-perpetuating cycle. When this recursive pattern becomes recognizable, the evidence can be taken differently. The self-perpetuating dynamics can become a good thing as job designs get upgraded for fairness.
I've identified seven different dimensions of job designs that can be readily upgraded for fairness. I'll explore these in greater depth in my next post:
These upgrades in job fairness attract candidates with a far better sense of how to contribute to results, develop themselves gradually, earn increased compensation, deserve more responsibility, characterize their strengths/weaknesses and collaborate with others effectively. They co-create experiences of being treated fairly while showing others respect, consideration and appreciation. This spawns a context where everyone responds resourcefully, creatively and insightfully to challenges, setbacks and opportunities. All this generates favorable evidence for how it pays tangibly and indirectly to protect, upgrade and perpetuate fairness in job designs.
So there's no evidence in situations plagued by injustices built in to the design of jobs. Anyone waiting for signs that it will pay to treat employees more fairly will never stop waiting. The only evidence in favor of fairness has to be created by visionary leaders who see the systems in play and respond accordingly.