Justice demands that no judgement is passed without giving an opportunity of being heard. Benefit of doubt (BOD) is always given. It is in recognition to the fact that the judge is ignorant of the situation in which an act is being done by a party.
But we often forget to use this maxim in our everyday relationships. Relations break down in personal and professional life because judgement is already made.
If the home assistant doesn’t turn up, s/he is declared as ‘Kaamchor’ (shirker). If your lover doesn’t reply to you five times, you declare that person a deceit. If an employee doesn’t meet the KPI targets two times consistently, s/he is declared inefficient and useless.
This is of particular relevance to the complex modern organisations. Leaders often become ‘Judgemental Judges’ and cease to be the ‘Just Leaders’.
Once the leader passes a comment on the employee without listening to their version of the story, the relation is gone!
Leaders need to acknowledge their own ignorance. This brings humility. You then realise that may be you don’t know. That opens up all the possibility to know more and listen.
Giving BOD to people makes you realise the ‘n’ number of ways the life can behave. My cleaning assistant didn’t turn up for 03 days consistently. No leave, no intimation, no response to my call. Fourth day, finally she came. I had two options. One, to express my resentment (some people go on extreme anger and dismiss employees from work). Second, to ask her with all humility and a caring voice as to why she didn’t manage to come. I chose the second option.
What happened? Something I couldn’t have ever imagined. Her brother was arrested by police under suspicion. Her brother was innocent she knew. They were busy since three days arranging for his bail amount and a lawyer. Her fault? No! Absolutely not!
One more example. I learnt from the informal network in my organisation that a particular employee is a star performer. I decided to transfer that person to manage the grievances of a new IT project in my organisation. It is called the “Human Resource Management System (HRMS). But, my hopes were dashed soon…
He didn’t perform. I thought that he is deliberately underperforming. This must be his strategy to go back to his earlier work, I thought. As, he had asked me multiple times earlier to let him continue his existing work. I was in a mood of passing the judgement…
But then, I remembered the BOD. May be I don’t know something of his situation. We talked. I asked him how his life is going. I learnt again the ways in which life happens.
He was married and had to goto the hospital frequently those days to care for his wife who was facing a difficult time. Hospital was nearby, so he thought that taking a full leave would not be justified and he should be working when organisation is facing a difficult time. He kept working, though not in full measure. Besides, he was the star performer in a work where, IT work was minimal but here he was dealing with tech and so he needed a bit of training. And see now! He is the star performer in my HRMS team again.
Thus, remembering the depth of our ignorance is the key. We need to know that we don’t know.
Once we remember that often, our relationships will be healthy, happy and full of love. BOD makes you open to all ways of life. It unfolds the diversity of life. It opens an endless possibility.
What would you do?
Be a Judgemental Judge?
A Just Leader!
Start with BOD! Then decide!