Wednesday, 28 September 2016

"That's Not Fair!" - Why Organisational Justice Impacts Everything At Work


No one likes to be taken advantage of.

Evidence of oppression is narrated in history books, as well as the corresponding struggles for emancipation. From the brutal conquests in millennia past, to the shameful stains of slavery, racism and modern-day discrimination - we will muster the courage to fight injustice.

And we carry this torch for fair treatment right into the workplace.

It's no wonder that in the field of organisational behavioural science, researchers find organisational justice intriguing; particularly because of the moves people will make to correct perceived injustice.

Simply put, organisational justice is concerned with the perceptions of fairness of employees. Since such perceptions shape the attitudes and behaviours of workers, this theme has become very important in understanding certain negative  actions that are displayed by aggrieved workers.

Types of organisational justice

Literature from researchers in the field has listed two, three and even four models/components of organisational justice. However, the three main types to consider are distributive justice, procedural justice and interactional justice.

1) Distributive justice

This refers to the outcomes of a decision, i.e. the fairness of the ends achieved.

One helpful construct to understand distributive justice at the workplace is Adam's Equity Theory (1963). This Theory advocates comparing the ratio of an individual's outcome to inputs, with the ratio of outcome to inputs of the comparison other. In essence, equity is achieved when: 

             Op    =   Oq
             __          __ 


             Ip           Iq

(Whereby O represents output; p represents the individual; I represents input; and q represents the comparison other).

According to Mowday (1996), it is irrelevant if the individual produces high inputs (whatever contributions he gives to the organisation, such as time, knowledge, skills, etc.); and receives low outcomes (whatever he gets from the organisation, such as pay, perks, appreciation, etc.), as long as his ratio is identical to the comparison other (i.e. his colleague). When the ratio is different, inequity arises and the individual perceives his outcome as unfair.

Now what becomes interesting is what the worker does to restore equity. Adams (1963) describes six methods he could use:

- Alter inputs;


- Alter outcomes;

- Change comparison other;

- Take actions to change inputs or outcomes  of comparison other;

- Distort inputs or outcomes;

- Leave field (turnover).

This Theory is important because it suggests that the motivation to restore fairness leads the worker who perceives distributive inequity, to engage in attitudes and behaviours that may negatively impact an organisation. He could use acts of retaliation like slowdowns as a way of lowering his inputs that may accompany under-payment. (Cropanzano & Folger, 1996).  

Evidently, it’s more difficult for the individual to alter the inputs or outputs of the comparison other to restore a state of equity. Therefore, Raja (2009) suggested that the employee might change his own inputs or outputs first by: 

- Changing  input to match outcomes such as  leaving early or slacking off;

- Changing outcomes to match inputs such as asking for a pay increase or stealing;

- Withdrawing, such as tardiness or turnover.

What organisations should perhaps focus on, is the more important dilemma of who gets what vis-à-vis rewards. This issue becomes crucial in times of organisation-wide changes such as layoffs, mergers, acquisitions, etc. To solve this problem, Levanthal (1976) suggests that a distribution rule of allocation be based on equity (contributions), equality and need.

Distributive justice is important to consider at the workplace because it predicts satisfaction with perceived outcomes (Folger, 1987). It also provides a motivational force for the employee who perceives distributive injustice (perceived inequity), to act in destructive behaviours that have harmful effects on other people, their property or sources of livelihood, as found by Cropanzano & Folger (1996).

Now distributive justice doesn't 'happen' in a vacuum. Its effect on employees' behaviours is best understood when you consider the procedures that led to the  outcomes in the first place - procedural justice.

2) Procedural justice

Procedural justice is concerned with the fairness of the processes by which a decision is made. 

It is especially important during an organisational change such as downsizing because employees cannot often get what they want. In such a scenario, the fairness of the procedures taken may be more important in predicting the behaviours of employees, rather than whether or not they received what they considered fair in relation to their contributions to the company, (distributive justice implications). 

Levanthal (1980) identified six criteria which managers should adhere to so that procedures can be perceived as fair: 

- Consistency;

- Bias suppression;
- Accuracy of information;
- Correctability;
- Representativeness (i.e. 'voice');
- Ethicality.

Negative indications of the criteria above lead the worker to perceive that procedures taken regarding decisions are unfair. Such procedural injustice as explained by Cropanzano & Folger (1996) undermines loyalty to both the institution and to its appointed representatives. Moreover, Blader & Tyler (2000), drawing on evidence from various researchers, reported that procedural justice is an important predictor of the following: 

-Commitment to the organisation;

-Effort employees put in duties;

-Likelihood workers will stay in the organisation;

-The extent of 'extra-role behaviour' they display (i.e. desirable actions not inherent  in their job descriptions);

-Acceptance of, and compliance with organisational rules. 

Interestingly, researchers in the 80s and 90s recorded some results about the effects of the interaction between distributive and procedural justice. Two of their most relevant findings must be highlighted because they simply make sense today: 

A) If the employee perceives that the procedures as fair, even if the distribution is inequitable (i.e. outcomes are unfavourable), he will be less inclined to take destructive actions against those in authority.  (Folger & Greenberg, 1985; Lind & Tyler, 1988; Cropanzano & Folger, 1996). 

B) Employees are more likely to react vigorously when both the outcomes are unfavourable and the procedures that led to those outcomes are unfair. Tyler et al. (1987) stated that such a development leads to reduced performance. Furthermore, employees are more likely to organise in collective action against the individuals who wronged them. 

A real eye opener. 

But in what manner should employees be treated and how should communication be handled for their welfare? Interactional justice is useful in understanding interpersonal relations at the workplace.

3) Interactional justice


This type refers to the fairness of interpersonal treatment. Bies & Moag (1986) advised that such fairness should be based on four criteria:

- Truthfulness;

- Respect;
- Propriety of questions;
- Justification. 

They stated that negative angles to those criteria communicate to the employee that he has been unfairly treated on an interpersonal level. 

Interactional justice is also important during change programmes because of social accounts provided. For example, adequate justification may help reduce moral outrage that leads to negative behaviours. They also help maintain a more positive image of the leader and better supervisor-subordinate relations (Cobb et al. 1995). There is an additional motivation for ensuring that employees are treated with professional courtesy. Cobb & Wooten (1998) explained that social accounts help reduce dysfunctional attitudes and behaviours following disappointing decisions and may even provide the motivation for change. 

Perhaps one of the most compelling findings about interactional justice was given by Blader & Tyler (2000) who linked interactional justice to affective commitment - the strongest type of commitment, which is the emotional attachment to an organisation.  


The three types of justice are best understood when they interact with each other, rather than in isolation. They influence, and in some cases, predict the attitudes and behaviours of employees in the organisation.


Now there exists extensive research in the theme of organisational justice, some of which, in recent times, has provided new angles to this crucial management issue. However, one irrefutable fact, backed up by numerous studies in the field of organisational behavioural science, is worth highlighting: 

When an employee perceives that he is unfairly treated—whether it is in relation to the outcomes received from his employer; or because of the procedures used to determine those outcomes; or because of the interpersonal treatment he is given—he will display negative attitudes or engage in destructive behaviours that will have dire effects on the organisation. 

Remember that without committed, engaged employees, the productivity wheel cannot function effectively. 

Know that organisational justice shapes the perceptions of employees, who in turn impact everything at work. 

So which would your organisation rather be? A productive work environment where fairness is championed, or the alternative - a sinking ship?


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N.B-  First image courtesy of Winnond; via Second, third and fifth images courtesy of Stuart Miles; via Fourth image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici; via

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Discussion Forum #4 - If You Were CEO For One Month...

The grass more often than not, looks greener on the other side of the fence.

Or shinier.

Or easier to manage.

It's thus no wonder that you often think that you could do a better job than the incumbent leader in running the company. You're therefore quick to note the chronic problems lurking in your organisation or list the blunders made by those at the helm of affairs. You also grumble, complain and moan about the status quo.

You reckon that you've got impressive ideas for moving your company forward. This belief of course leads to fanciful daydreams about being the CEO sitting in the plush office, enjoying the extravagant salary and relishing luxurious perks attached to that coveted spot. You fantasise about implementing such and such rules, sacking those leeches (AKA the senior executives), and basking in the adulation of your followers (AKA staff), as the omniscient, charismatic leader that your company deserves. You'd love to be known as a true professional who exudes great executive presence with excellent communication skills and who gets stuff done.

Really how difficult could it be?

Well here's your chance.

Imagine that you were given the opportunity to become the chief executive officer in your dream company for one month, with full rein to executive powers.

The only snag is that whatever decisions you make will remain binding after the given period, after which you resume your previous role.

What move will you make?

Guidelines for discussion forums:

1) Comments only related to the topic would be approved. Please keep them relevant.

2) Comments submitted after the deadline will not be published.

3) Clarity is  required. Please edit your comments before posting.

4) Language should  be kept professional and 'clean'. Inappropriate contributions will not be approved. Comments written as personal attacks will also be rejected.

And now over to you...

Discussion Forum #4 - If You Were CEO For One Month... 
(30 August, 2016 - 27 September, 2016 at 23.59 West African Time)

That's right folks: four weeks of freedom to inspire, lead, rule, divide or conquer. 

What will you do? What won’t you tolerate? 

We'd like to know so kindly post your comments below, anonymously if you wish. Remember to invite others to chip in. 


Recommended reading 

Discussion Forum #3 - What Is The Best Career Advice You Ever Gave Or Received?


  If you enjoyed this post, don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:

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  N.B- First image courtesy of Freedooom; at Second  image courtesy of Tigger11th; via

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Communication Pitfalls That Sabotage Your Career And Business

You probably think—no believe—that you're a good communicator.

If asked to give examples of instances whereby you displayed excellent communication skills, you could reel off a couple: from answering difficult interview questions with confidence, and delivering excellent speeches or presentations, to constructing persuasive emails/letters/proposals at work.

And you'd be right. In those situations, good communication skills led to the desired results.

Nonetheless, we've all veered off the straight and narrow path to good communication. Some common communication faux pas include these eight bad communication habits which we should break because they negate perceptions of our professionalism.

But are you aware of the communication mishaps which slowly undermine your career, or as an entrepreneur, limit your business growth? They could be insidious and unless pointed out by trusted colleagues/business partners so that you could rectify them, they'll cost you promotions or valuable opportunities.

Note that you're unknowingly ruining your career or your business by:

1) Not prioritising active listening

We all know that good listening skills are essential at work. Active listening communicates a sense of worth. We all crave attention. Therefore, when we believe that we're listened to, we become more convinced that our contributions are appreciated. This in turn, increases our discretionary efforts, leading to increased engagement. Employee engagement, as has been reported, leads to increased productivity as explained in the short video below.


But listening must be done the right way. Researchers revealed an interesting take on the art of listening in an article posted on the Harvard Business Review website. They determined that simply listening in silence, only to regurgitate what was said, does not constitute good listening. Instead, listening and asking meaningful questions promote insight. There's also good advice given on how to engage with the speaker and explanations about how the different levels of listening should be handled.

So if you're not actively listening to your company when management articulates what is expected from you in the long-term, you're doing yourself a disservice. Don't be surprised when your boss doesn't recommend you for plump assignments or when you're not singled out for promotions.

As an entrepreneur, active listening will help you to formulate strategies and provide exceptional customer services, leading to increased sales. Not prioritising this skill will be detrimental to your business, especially as a startup. Not only will you need to rally your team to achieve a common goal, but valuable insights will be stifled if team members feel unappreciated because you don't truly listen to them. This fact will become evident when you fail to address lingering concerns. Eventually, they would stop caring altogether and your business will suffer from the significant brain drain.

Remember that hearing is not the same thing as listening.

2) Not handling constructive feedback effectively

In a post on feedback, I declared that for feedback to be effective, it had to be timely and factual. I also distinguished between two groups of people who don't give feedback. In the first group are the 'Ostrich' people - these are folks who don't want to be the bearers of bad news, thus they avoid giving unfavourable feedback. In the second camp, the 'What's-In-It-For-Me' people feel entitled and don't give feedback unless they have a vested interest in the  recipients' circumstances. Professionals in both groups automatically sabotage their careers because their behaviours cause others to view them as untrustworthy, unreliable and incompetent.

Feedback, as we all know, is crucial for the effectiveness of people and by extension, processes. For the organisational wheel to function properly, feedback must be consistently provided. Still, when it comes to constructive feedback, we don't relish our mistakes being highlighted.

Now you may think that it's easier to give feedback than to receive it. But think about how awkward it will be for example, to tell your boss that his error cost your company millions; and how uncomfortable you'll feel suggesting steps he could take to mitigate the effects of the crisis.

Did you cringe?

No, constructive feedback is not always pleasant but it is necessary.

So why do we loathe feedback?

Some research suggests that the fear of giving or receiving feedback may be all in our heads; that there is a psychological component to this fearBacked by science, the article explains that we tend to avoid constructive feedback because of a fight-or-flight bias (caused by hormones), even though we're not in any physical danger. We also remember criticisms more sharply. Suggestions given to overcome this fear of feedback are changing mindsets and altering behaviours.

As a professional or business owner, avoiding 'harsh' feedback does you no good. Problems cannot be wished away, nor can mistakes be undone. As long as you're convinced of the credibility of the person giving the constructive feedback, you should have faith that information given is in your best interest, and should at least consider reasonable advice.

What should be ignored are personal attacks or groundless criticisms which neither address the problems nor offer useful solutions.


To accelerate your professional development, include active listening in your communication arsenal and readily give/accept constructive feedback.

People who matter at work and in your business circles will notice the change when you become a more competent and grounded professional. As a result, confidence in your abilities will abound, leading to more opportunities.

And that's a promise.

If you enjoyed this post don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:

-Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.

-Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediately notified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!


Need help with improving your communication skills?

Hire me for:

-Communications  training  sessions  for  your staff and executives;

-Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc);

-Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.

  Let me help you get results.

 Contact me:  

   A) Send an email to:

  B) Call for a free consultation:
 Nigeria:            0704 631 0592
 International:  +234 704 631 0592    


N.B -  First, second and third images courtesy of Stuart Miles; via Last image courtesy of Bplanet; via