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6 June 2018


Depression, burnout, boreout, brownout… Unfortunately, all these terms relating to lack of wellbeing among employees, leaders and business owners, are still a common presence in our everyday life. Companies are continuously working to boost their performance, to be more effective and efficient, while offering an organizational culture, work environment, remuneration systems and corporate values in today’s challenging context where companies have to compete for skilled workforce that is becoming increasingly scarce. It’s no easy feat! The very way to manage businesses and to lead people has to be rethought. We have seen a succession of management approaches like leadership coaching, participatory management, circular management, etc. Now the term Equitable Management is gradually making its way into organizations.

What Is Equitable Management?

According to the Association française du management équitable (Equitable Management Association of France – AFraME), equitable management is a set of practices rooted in the notion of achieving a fair balance between economic and/or operational performance of a company and personal fulfillment in the workplace. AFraME has put together a comprehensive Equitable Management Charter. Here are a few of these principles. (View the complete Charter) [i]





People Are at the Center of Equitable Management

The principles that form the foundation of equitable management are commendable.  The main goal is to put people first. So far so good. I’m sure that most of us would agree with this. However, it may get tricky when it comes to acting on it.

Any people-centered approach also implies relational and communicational challenges. Communication is and will be always a challenge at the heart of any organization regardless of the organizational culture, management practices and the best intentions of its leaders. Each person is unique. We have our own views, our experiences that make us who we are, our personality that defines us, our ambitions that guide us, our fears that hold us back, and our current personal reality that explains the difference in our perception of the same situation.

Interesting… But Gets Complicated

As if it were not already complicated enough, we also have fundamental needs that we are seeking to fulfill. Neuroscience identifies five basic human needs. While these are the same needs for all human-beings, the significance of each of them is different for every individual. According to the SCARF Model by the NeuroLeadership Institute[ii], the five basic human needs are (simplified SCARF Model):

S (Status)       having a certain status, feeling that we have our place in the organization and being happy with it

C (Certainty)   being able to foresee the future

A (Autonomy) having a certain level of control over our environment

R (Relations)   having a relationship with other people, being part of a group

F (Fairness)     feeling that we are treated fairly

In fact, when we find ourselves in a situation that does not meet or even negatively affects one or several of these needs, our brain perceives it as punishment or aggression, which leads to gradual disengagement or disillusion towards the situation, the colleague, the manager and the company. The opposite is true too. If we find the work environment fulfilling, we feel happier, more successful and engaged.

We observe strong coherence between the principles of equitable management and the SCARF Model. It leads me to conclusion that the principles of equitable management are a great solution for our basic human needs. Great! However, these principles, as great as they are, must be well supported by processes, rules, profound and sincere exchanges to ensure that everyone in the organization has the same understanding of their meaning, the same awareness of the basic needs of everyone involved not only prior to the implantation of the equitable management process, but on a continuous basis.

Life does not stand still. As people go through various situations such as economic challenges, family issues, etc., the weight of each of the basic needs would change accordingly. That would require having a mechanism in place that could ensure that the effects of any particular decision on each person are continuously taken into consideration and updated. One of the biggest mistakes would be to make assumptions based on previous experiences.

A Continuous Solution

In addition to integrating the principles of equitable management and considering the five basic human needs in the policies and procedures of your company, it is also recommended to set up a mechanism to address the human factor, such as a decision-making tool that would take into account the individuals who would be directly or indirectly affected by such decision, while bearing in mind the company’s mission, vision and values, as well as the principles of equitable management, the company’s objectives, and the SCARF needs of its employees and leaders. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget the person!


Sylvie Grégoire, MBA, CRHA, NeuroLeadership Certificate

President, Totem Performance organisationnelle


[i] http://www.aframe.fr/

[ii] http://www.neuroperformance.fr/le-modele-scarf/

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