Don’t ‘Compare’ To Be ‘Fair’


I once conducted a performance evaluation with an individual that had a productive and successful year. We rewarded him with a healthy salary increase and bonus. He was pleased with the recognition and prepared to embark toward a new set of goals for the next year. A week later that individual returned to my office to express dissatisfaction with the bonus he received.

What happened? He heard that another colleague received a greater bonus. IT WAS NOT FAIR!

Who defines what is ‘Fair’? Sure we all have our own perspective. However, there is NOT and NEVER WILL BE a universal definition of ‘Fair.’ This employee’s belief that he was more deserving than another candidate, certainly was not the perspective of the other candidate. Furthermore, the simple act of ‘comparison’ destroyed the fulfillment and satisfaction previously experienced.

For those of you with children, try this experiment. Give one child a scoop of ice cream. Observe the satisfaction they have with their ice cream. Now give a second child two scoops of ice cream. Observe how quickly the first child’s satisfaction disappears. Unfortunately, our natural instinct to compare is not unique to children.

  1. Do you keep score with your spouse or significant other relative to free time or chores?
  2. Do you mock the ‘volunteer’ referee’s call against your child or team?
  3. Do you perpetually analyze and complain about promotion or compensation decisions?

Mistakes can be made. And, I acknowledge that there are appropriate times to tactfully promote your own interests. For example, individuals and organizations need to be cognizant of pay equity issues among gender and race. However, a persistent pursuit of ‘Fair’ at home or at work will not serve you well.

Comparison is the enemy of contentment. Set your own goals and standards. Pursue them with passion and integrity. Celebrate your achievements as well as those of your colleagues. Appreciate what you have and CEEK…a Better Way®!