Things for teams to try: Improving Fairness and respect

Feeling like we are treated fairly and with respect can be something we don't really think about until it doesn't feel right. But there are ways to help improve our sense of fairness and respect within the team.

4 Fairness and respect - team

1. Share airtime fairly

Most teams tend to be made up of a mix of extroverts and introverts. It's important to give opportunities for everyone to share their thoughts and ideas, even if they aren't necessarily keen to do so.

How to do it:

  • Use the 1-2-4-All technique: ask people to start alone, then share in pairs, then discuss in a group of four, and then ask each group of four to offer up one idea to the whole group.
  • This creates "smallness in the bigness" and is inclusive enough to bring in those who like to think things through before they talk and those who like to talk their ideas out!
  • If people are finding it hard to contribute their ideas, encourage them to think about the benefit speaking up could bring to the team.
  • Remember that you might be the only one with a certain thought or idea, or you might be voicing something others are uncertain how to say!

2. Grant each other permission to feel

If your team is going through a difficult time - perhaps the loss of a colleague or an office move - lean into the feelings you all have. Put your fear, vulnerability and confusion to one side and choose compassionate curiosity instead. What you'll learn about yourselves and each other will make the weeks ahead run far more smoothly.

How to do it:

  • Ask each other: “How do you feel about this situation?”
  • Actively listen for feelings and people's deepest concerns.
  • Play back to each other what you have heard.
  • Ask one another: “How can we help each other?”
  • We recommend watching Kwame Christian's TEDx on compassionate curiosity and finding confidence in conflict.

3. Hire for diversity

Working in ways that respect and accommodate differences is not only good for the soul, it helps your team move out of “groupthink” and into a wholly more creative and innovative space.

How to do it:

  • Look for people who will bring different strengths to the group, so you are widening as well as deepening your expertise.
  • Seek out and welcome diversity of perspective, education, and life experience.

4. Talk to yourselves as if you were talking to your best friend

Practising self-compassion is good for wellbeing, but it can be very hard to do because it involves silencing our inner critic.

How to do it:

  • Imagine a friend is presenting the same dilemma, concern, problem or mistake. How would you help them to put their worries into perspective? What kind words of reassurance would you offer them?
  • Next time you or the team feels bad about itself or is struggling, treat each other like good friends, and notice what happens.

5. Create a team bias interrupter

Unconscious bias is not intentional and is formed over a lifetime. However using it might be insulting our colleagues and making them feel uncomfortable without even realising it. Thankfully we can help each other to spot unconscious bias and remove it from our language.

How to do it:

  • Create a shared understanding of how to respond when your bias has been flagged. It could be an "I'm sorry" or a "Can you explain it to me after the meeting", for example.
  • Identify a key word or phrase in your team to flag when bias has occurred in meetings. You could use "bias alert", a purple flag, or Daniel Kahneman's phrase "cognitive bias", for example.
  • It should not fall to particular people to flag when bias has occurred. Encourage everyone to speak up when they spot biased language or behaviour.
  • Kim Scott of "Just Work" and "Radical Candour" believes there is at least one bias in every meeting - just to give you a sense of how often we should be checking ourselves.