Decisions and Justice

Decisions and Justice

I am nearing the end of my first semester teaching in Mountain State University’s Bachelor of Science Organizational Leadership program. I have loved the opportunity to interact and learn with a fantastic group of students in a vital virtual environment.

In our last chat, we discussed an important area that relates to this month’s topic of decision making: organizational justice (Nelson and Quick, 2008).

Organizational justice — which includes the fairness of outcomes, processes, and treatment that people experience at work — affects people’s motivation and satisfaction at work.

Our job satisfaction and motivation are directly related to a sense that our organizations are fair and equitable.

Justice in the workplace has three components:

  • Distributive justice
  • Procedural justice
  • Interactional justice

Distributive justice relates to the fairness of outcomes. Do people in similar positions receive the same salary? Do all employees receive the same health care benefits?

One of my students used a great example of distributive (in)justice from work environment. He noted that in his police department, the guys whose friends work in the radio room get the best “shops” (cars). Fair? Nope. Common? Sure.

Procedural justice relates to fairness of the decision making process. Do leaders in the organization consider decisions carefully? This may come into play with hiring decisions. Does the organization have a fair process for choosing employees?

Interactional justice is the fairness of how people are treated when outcomes and procedures are communicated. In my opinion, this may be the most important factor. I personally can accept something being less than fair if I am being treated with kindness and respect. Most employees will respond well as long as decisions and procedures are communicated openly and honestly in a way that recognizes their value and unique contributions to the organization.

Justice is an important factor to consider in decision making because of the strong influence perception of justice can have on employees’ job satisfaction and motivation.

To ensure that you are making fair decisions at work ask yourself three questions:

  • Are the outcomes of this decision equitable?
  • Did I make this decision by using a fair process?
  • Am I communicating this decision with respect and consideration for my employees?

Join the conversation!

Do you agree with me that interactional justice is the most important?

How do you ensure that the decisions and processes within your organization are fair?

This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is re-posted with permission. 

Filed As:  justice, satisfaction

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • Hi, Becky – interesting post and I love the way your students operationally define the types of justice.
    You make a great point about how people will often accept “unfair” actions when they are treated with respect. This is both a good survival strategy, since much of life is inherently not fair, but also has the seeds of promoting the very action of injustice.
    In other words, if the person does not protect when they are being “shafted” because the “shafter” does so with respect, does this reduce the inequity of the action? My opinion is “no”, it just makes it more likely to continue.
    I’ll let someone else come up with the comprehensive plan to insure fair decisions in organizations. My point would simply be we need to start with creating cultures where unfair treatment is not tolerated and speaking out against unfairness is encouraged AND rewarded.
    Hmmm, now I guess we need to clearly define what “fair” and “unfair” mean. I do not think this is as simple as comparing “fair” to “ethical” and saying “see list”. A person can act ethically by giving one person more food than another based on that individual’s need (maybe because of malnutrition or pregnancy). Is the action fair in terms of everyone receiving the same amount? Nope. However, the action might be considered ethical.
    Now I have to rethink this whole issue:).

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