Managers and companies, by nature, are usually fair to their people (play along, I know it’s not always true). We all get the same treatment, benefits, evaluations, raises.
But I believe fairness culls the good people. Fairness only works if everyone exerts the same effort and produces the same quality of result. Realistically, that implies that either a) everyone is a robot or b) the company’s processes make people become robots. However, as long as someone does better than the rest, fairness will only make things worse.
Bigger companies can afford to argue for fairness. They push for conformity and allow less personal freedom because they have strict standards and precise measures to easily manage their huge workforce. Let’s leave them that way. They’re already big for a reason.
I believe smaller companies trying to become big can’t. Setting standards for small companies will only close up its potential and make it into a premature science rather than make it bloom as an art piece, before it gets analyzed scientifically. While a company is small enough to be flexible, why shouldn’t it be?
Richard Branson, visionary CEO who put up Virgin Airlines, likes keeping companies small and flexible. Other people may not last, but those who do, accomplish big things.
If you’re the engaging manager, push for unfairness. Don’t treat your people equally. Find what works for each person. One may like to be micromanaged, another may prefer to be laissez-faired. One may be able to handle scolding, while another may not. Engage your people and manage, don’t tie-up and make into drones.
If you’re the shining employee, push for unfairness. Push for more for yourself. They will usually say that this is unfair to others, that there are standards. Challenge them, asking, “Is my work not above standard? Above the quality of the company as a whole?” Then prove your work. But If they give you the same reply, then that means they’re afraid to challenge and push the others to improve. Then that’s your queue–leave.
This is the workplace, not the classroom. Heck, even in the classroom, students with good grades get more smiles from the teacher.