In managing others, human perception, attitudes and motivation are of great importance. One important OB issue spanning these dimensions is the concept of ‘perceived fairness’ in the workplace.
Fairness is such a common phenomenon in organizations that most leaders/ managers typically give it little thought. If an employee says the vacation/ leave, or other policy, isn`t fair, he or she might get some attention. But what seems fair to one person may not seem fair to another. Part of the reason for this discrepancy is that people use different rules for deciding what is fair. Collectively these rules are called “Organizational Justice” and there are 3 types of Justice:
- Distributive Justice – people decide what is fair based on results and outcomes that are fair to everyone
- Procedural Justice – people decide what is fair based on the methods or procedures that are perceived as being fair to everyone
- Interactional Justice – people decide what is fair based on the way people are treated that is seen as being fair to everyone
- In this module, we will be exploring the question of Justice through a modified role play involving a missed promotion. During week one, we will be dividing into two groups. You will be asked to read some instructions on the exercise for one or the other group. Please avoid the temptation of reading the instructions for both roles. Your ability to successfully complete the role play will be severely compromised if you do. If you are curious, you can always go back at the end of the module and read the other’s instructions! This exercise is modified from Caza, A., Caza, B.B., & Lind, E.A. (2010). The missed promotion: An exercise demonstrating the importance of organizational justice. Journal of Management Education, first published on October 1, 2010 doi:10.1177/1052562910381875
If the last digit of your Social Security Number is 0-4, go to Manager Scenario. If the last digit of your social security number is 5-9, go to Employee Scenario.
- Read the instructions and jot down your answers to the questions. Keep these notes, but you do not have to post them in the discussion. (15 minutes)
- This week’s discussion will be a meeting between members of both parties. Stay in your role and using the answers to the questions you prepared above, identify your role and present your case to the other “side” and try to accomplish the goal you have set out in step one. You will want to return to the discussion at least twice during the week to see how the other side has responded to your arguments and make additional points if necessary. (30 minutes)
Now read the following post-role-play reflection, jot down your answers to the questions, and fill in the table. Go to Post Role-Play Reflection. (15 minutes)
- In the discussion this week, you will post comments responding to the following questions (30 minutes):
a. Describe what happened when you tried to discuss the promotion with the other side, from your perspective. Was it successful?
b. Were you more concerned with distributive, procedural or interactional justice?
c. What attitudes or behaviors lead you to this conclusion?
d. Do managers and employees tend to emphasize different aspects of justice? How does that influence perceptions of fairness?
e. What are the implications of what you have learned from this exercise for your future actions as a manager or a leader in your organization?
1. What was your role? MANAGER EMPLOYEE
2. Briefly summarize the meeting. What was the result?
3. Please rate your agreement with each statement below, and then give a brief explanation for your answer.
Sam is a valuable employee, whom you definitely want to keep in your unit. To prepare for this meeting, you reviewed the minutes from the promotions committee meeting. There were six applicants for the position Sam wanted, and all six applicants were strong candidates. Sam was clearly qualified for the position, but the committee decided that one of the other applicants was a better choice.
You will be meeting with Sam in 10 minutes. To prepare, think about the issues involved in the meeting. There are four questions below. Please consider and write your answer to each of the questions in the space provided. Focus on the most important points in answering the questions.
1. Describe your goal for this meeting. What would make it successful?
2. What do you think Sam`s goal for the meeting is?
3. How will you reach your goal? What approach will you use?
4. Describe any other issues or concerns you have about this meeting.