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Fairly leading

January 31, 2012

Several months ago I was given my yearly performance review.  I don’t know how everyone feels about these but I always appreciate the feedback (even if it stings hearing) and like the opportunity to learn and grow from this.  This year my supervisor did something a little different involving a 360 evaluation.  A feedback form was given to two individuals that report to me, two that I report to and two that I work laterally with.  I found the feedback to be extremely eye-opening and I feel this is a positive way to perform all performance evals in any organization.

That said I was a little surprised at one of the trends and it had to do with fairness.  Now before I go much further into this I will state that my eval went very well.  I was strong in each area of the feedback form and I was dare I say, proud of the wonderful ways in which my colleagues valued my contributions to our school.  The one area that was consistently lower though was fairness and I was really confused to say the least.  I will admit, my first thought was, “really, how can I be more fair?”.  I’m always accommodating and reasonable.  In fact sometimes I thought I was too accommodating.  I went away from that evaluation pleased and slightly perplexed.  My supervisor encouraged me to think about the fairness score and maybe write a brief essay on my thoughts on it.  She suggested that I take an issue and write for the opposing side but I have trouble with that because I can always see both sides which to me indicated that I didn’t have a problem with fairness.  But for some reason it was being indicated as an area of growth for me.  So, I pondered and pondered and thought and well, you get the idea.

Then one day I had a thought and went back to basics.  I looked up the word fair in the dictionary, I mean I figured I knew what it meant but I wasn’t making any progress so decided it was worth checking out.  This is what I read,

free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision; a fair judge.
legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules: a fair fight.
moderately large; ample: a fair income.
neither excellent nor poor; moderately or tolerably good: fair health.
marked by favoring conditions; likely; promising: in a fair way to succeed. –
something in that made me think of consistency.  I’m not sure why, it doesn’t say anything about that in the definition specifically but I was kind of struck with it and it resonated with me.  That was it, the piece I was missing.
What do I mean by that?  Well, do you ever find your self empathizing so much with individuals that you, by some interpretations, don’t hold everyone accountable to the same standards?  That is what I think I was doing.  I was letting instances occur because I could so totally understand the situation of that individual but from the outside looking in its possible it seemed unfair.  I have no idea what was really intended by those evaluations that marked this as an area of growth for me but that is what I took from it.  In the last several months I have tried to make a concerted effort to be steady and consistent in my interactions with others.  I think I have made some improvements and I’m looking forward to my next eval to see if there have been changes. 
What about you, is there an area that you have been trying to grow professionally?  What is it?  What is your greatest challenge in the growth?
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