Organizational Justice and Its Role in Motivating Associates

Having a problem motivating your associates and co-workers to do what needs to be done? Or to ask for clarification on tasks, rather than guessing or assuming they know what you want… and then doing it wrong?

In order to better understand how to motivate people, it is bene­ficial to have at least a passing understanding of the concepts of or­ganizational justice at work in a group environment. There are three types of organizational justice that affect associate perceptions of fairness and justice in the workplace:

  1. Procedural Justice, which is defined as “fairness regarding procedures.” It refers to whether or not associates are given a chance to offer input into the design and implementation of organizational systems.
  2. Interpersonal Justice, which refers to how associates are treated by an authority figure, such as a supervisor or manager, especially when receiving performance feedback by that manager.
  3. Informational Justice, which refers to the quality of explanations given by a manager or supervisor about a process, procedure or policy.

Research shows that all three types of justice have strong implications for desired associate outcomes such as trust, commitment and job satisfaction, as well as undesirable outcomes such as with­drawal.

Associates have a much higher perception of fair treatment in the workplace when higher levels of interpersonal justice and informational justice are present.

In other words, when treatment by managers is respectful and preserves the associate’s dignity, and thorough explanations are offered for the use of complex or new policies, as well as during feedback sessions such as performance reviews, associates perform better. No surprise there.

However, the big ah-ha was that the presence of informational justice more positively influences associate trust in the manager than the presence of interpersonal justice and procedural justice. This demonstrates associates’ strong desire for clear explanations and direction from their leaders over other types of “fairness factors” in the workplace.

In fact, I submit that the presence of informational justice positively affects the perception of Interpersonal Justice. If an associate feels that his manager has clearly explained what he needs, doesn’t it follow that he will feel more fairly treated by that manager?

Take a look at how clear your explanations are. Do your associates know exactly what to do when asked to perform a task or accomplish a goal? Are they clear on what the goal actually is?  What the desired outcomes should look like?  How they’re going to get there?

If not, you may want to clear up any confusion so you can get on with accomplishing some productive work and help your associates feel good about the jobs they’re doing.

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