The strength of fair management in digital transformation
So what is fair management? How does it integrate execution into strategy development?
If the question of equity has always preoccupied intellectuals and philosophers, the theoretical origin of equitable management can be found according to authors such as John W. Thibault and Laurens Walker. Combining their interest in the psychological dimension of justice and the study of procedures, they led, in the mid-1970s, to the concept of procedural justice. They wanted in particular to understand the reasons which push the individual to trust a legal system and to obey the laws without being constrained by it. At the end of their research, they concluded that the human being is as concerned with the fairness of the procedure applied as with the concrete result obtained. His satisfaction and his attachment to this result increase when he considers that there has been procedural justice.
The expression fair management is our translation, in the field of the company, of the theory of procedural justice. As in the legal context, an operation based on equity integrates execution at the development stage by eliciting upstream buy-in from all concerned. It gives everyone the conviction that the goals are not loaded and encourages them to cooperate voluntarily in the implementation of strategic decisions.
This voluntary cooperation has nothing to do with the mechanical execution to which some indulge in order to be well regarded. In this case, there is no question of limiting oneself to doing one’s duty: we do not spare our efforts and we take all the initiatives necessary to implement the adopted strategy.
The 3 principles of fair management
All fair operation is based on three mutually reinforcing principles: engagement, discussion and statement of consequences. From day laborer to senior manager, everyone has this in mind, these are the 3 E.
To engage is to encourage the participation of individuals in strategic decisions that concern them; it is soliciting their opinion and allowing them to challenge the positions of others. By applying this principle, management shows respect for the staff and their ideas. In addition, the climate of contradictory debate that it creates helps everyone to refine their arguments and contributes to the development of a kind of collective intelligence. The effect of engagement is to improve the quality of decisions made at the top and to ensure that everyone can help when they need to be carried out.
To exchange is to ensure that all concerned understand the reason for strategic decisions, the reasoning behind them. It is to give them the feeling that the leaders have taken their opinion into account before deciding in all impartiality and in the general interest of the company. This work of explanation and discussion encourages employees to trust management, even when their own ideas have not been accepted. It also creates a powerful feedback loop that speeds up learning.
Stating the consequences means explaining, once the strategy has been defined, the new rules of the game. However strong the resulting requirements may be, employees have the right to know from the outset the criteria according to which they will be judged and the penalties applicable in the event of failure. What are the objectives of the new strategy? The intermediate stages? Who is responsible for what? for when? The precise nature of objectives, requirements and responsibilities is ultimately less important, from a fair management perspective, than the understanding of staff. When everyone knows exactly what is expected of them, maneuvers and favoritism recede; employees can look to the immediate execution of the strategy.
It is these 3 criteria taken together that make it possible to judge the quality of fair management. It is necessary to insist on this point, because one cannot pass judgment on the basis of partial elements.