QUESTION: The company is not fair and is not consistent in applying policies.
FACT: Policies are not clearly defined and management discretion is used frequently.
It is impossible for any organization to keep each and every employee happy and motivated all the time. Sometimes, employee can feel the company is not being fair to him— because his requests are not entertained, he has received some negative feedback, or he has not been considered for promotion. Usually, in such circumstances, rather than introspecting on the need to improve, the employee goes on to make a blanket statement that the company is not being fair.
An employee often feels he is being treated unfairly when he sees that company policies are not being applied consistently. He might find that his co-workers had been given additional leeway, while he had not under similar circumstances. He will cite examples of this unfair treatment—in travel, leave matters, working during weekends, cash awards, etc.
Such issues often take place when a company’s policies are not clearly laid out, leading to misinterpretation. Being clear and consistent in applying company policy will significantly minimize people issues. It may also be that the policies are clear, but that the managers are exercising too much discretion. Managers should be aware of the pitfalls of following such a practice, while HR should act as a gatekeeper and ensure consistency across teams in implementing the policies. In extreme circumstances, a manager might sometimes proceed with his discretionary powers, but he should have the ability to defend his decision when asked for an explanation by any employee. However, most of the time, what happens is that employees go by what they have heard from their colleagues, and then interpret it in their own way, causing disquiet. Clearly, employees should not go by hearsay, but seek clarification from the manager himself.
When a company is small, policies are often implemented in a loose manner. As the company grows, things need to become more formal and structured, and the policies need… to be applied forcefully. This can lead to issues where new team members hear the earlier stories .And feel that they are’ being denied the benefits which their colleagues who have been working for a long time have enjoyed. Alternatively, the team members who had enjoyed the benefits in the past may now feel that the company no longer cares for them. This leads to a ‘Iose-lose’ situation for the company. Therefore, it is equally important for small and large companies to adhere to well-defined policies. And it’s also important that there should be a strong central functional hierarchy that can help managers interpret policy correctly.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE EMPLOYEE? You should bring your concerns to the manager’s notice, Try not to be agitated, and give your manager a patient hearing. There is a very high possibility that your perception is at odds with the management. But if your issue is a genuine one, you should take it up – further, so that it might be looked into.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE MANAGER? You should be fully aware of company policies and practices. If you are facing a difficult situation with an employee for which you do not have a solution, then discuss it with your management, and provide the answer. A wrong interpretation of policy or an incorrect statement made to an employee will lead to several-issues. Also, it is best to avoid taking individual decisions. Though your intention might be to help the person, it can backfire. Extend whatever help is deemed fit under company policies, but do not apply managerial discretion frequently. Learn to say ‘no` unless it is really very important to act outside the policy and the practice of the company. In such cases, you have to discuss with your management and support team HR and Finance) to validate the exception.