How Favoritism Affects the Workplace

How Favoritism Affects the Workplace
A common misconception among employees in the work place is that the boss’ favorite is always the hardest working employee in the company. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Many times the favorite can be the person you get along with the best. You may form an instant connection to a member of your staff and suddenly you are showering them, whether on purpose or subconsciously, with all sorts of attention and perks. The perk can be choice assignments or as simple as turning away when they walk in late every day. Favoritism, whether real or perceived, can have a detrimental and significant impact on the work place.

So what is favoritism?

In order to understand how to fix the problem, it’s important to first define and identify whether you are playing favorites. Favoritism is simple. It means that you are showing special treatment or giving unfair advantages to a certain person or group. The smallest gestures can fall under the perception of showing favoritism. Is there a particular employee who comes in late every day? Even if you may be aware of a personal situation going on with the employee, the rest of the staff may see it as playing favorites.

Unfortunately, there may not be much you can do in that situation without divulging confidential information. If you’re looking the other way because you like them, however, you are definitely opening yourself up to problems.

What happens when you have a favorite?

The effects of favoritism are wide spread. It can have lasting effects on employee morale and productivity. Slighted employees will often wonder why they should work so hard when the better assignments and all of the credit will go to your favorite employee. If your favorite employee suddenly resigns who do you think will do the work? You have effectively set yourself up for low or no cooperation from the rest of your staff.

What about possible discrimination lawsuits? Whether or not discrimination even comes into play in your mind, perception is what counts. You open up the company and yourself to potential lawsuits from disgruntled employees. Should that happen, every decision you ever made and anything you ever tried to accomplish will come under close scrutiny. Even if your future decisions are based on work performance rather than favoritism, there will be no credibility.

What can you do?

The simple answer is to not play favorites. Some may think this is easier said than done, it’s not. Recognizing it is happening is the first step, followed by how to control it.

Assigning tasks – Make sure that you assign tasks to the most qualified employee and be ready to defend your choice if need be. Unless the reason is workload, make sure that the most competent employee is given the assignment. Remember the training aspect, however, don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to those who need improvement, offering them the chance to improve and grow.

Praise all, often – If the project is going well and is a huge success, be sure to praise everyone on the team. Don’t just praise the lead and expect them to pass the praise along, it may not happen. If possible, a moment of praise in front of the entire group or going around and personally congratulating each person on the team will dispel questions of favoritism.

Respond equally and fairly. This is pretty much self-explanatory. If workers are required to be on-time to work, then make sure that all violators are dealt with in the same equal manner. If it’s a personal problem which prevents an employee from following the rules, make sure you have that conversation and set an end date for their problem to be resolved and behavior improved.

Favoritism is alive and well within many organizations, it’s the true leader that will make sure it does not happen and do their best to prevent the appearance of playing employee favorites.

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