Handling Favoritism In the Workplace

At one time or another most people  in the work force have felt like a boss has liked someone better than them at work.  Maybe it was just the way they talked to another person or possibly they actually did play favorites in the office.

At a conference that I was lecturing at I happened to walk into the speaker ready room and saw two of my colleagues having a cup of coffee.  One asked if I would join them and help her with a question she had about a situation with the other person.

I asked what I could help with and she wanted to know what I thought about playing favorites in the office and buying some employees a gift and others nothing.

I simply said that if you cannot purchase something equal for each employee that works under you then do not purchase anything.  This other manager was pretty taken back by my answer.  She told me that she had a few staff members that she was closer with and that she thought it was fine to buy them a nice gift and leave the other 15 employees out.

I asked where was she going to present the gifts to them at and she replied “at work” and yes other employees would see her gifting them.  I asked her if she had done this before and she had.  I asked how the other “left out employees” felt and she said “they have never said anything to her, but she had heard that they made some nasty remarks.”

She said that the remarks did not bother her because these other employees had earned the gifts and deserved them.

We sat down and had a discussion about what behavior like “favoritism” by  management personnel does in the work environment. These are the top three issues that favoritism creates at work;

1. Hurt feelings, stress, resentment and anxiety by those who are left out.

2. Friction between the favored and un-favored employees.

3. Decreased morale and productivity overall.

Favoritism destroys workplace teams.  Many times a manager will show favoritism to an employee without even realizing that they are doing it.  Management staff need to walk a straight line with staff members and not lean-to close to one over the other.

This is not to say that employee recognition is taboo. Employees absolutely should be recognized for good works, but in front of everyone and everyone has the same opportunity to be recognized.  No favorites at work.

Outside work relationships is another blog topic altogether.

After talking with this manager she began to see what problems she was causing by her actions with her team as a whole.  She actually thought that by showing favoritism to a few that it would make the others try harder.

Being a manager can be tough when you have a lot of staff personnel to work with. Naturally we are attracted to some people over others and seem to click better with certain people and personality types.

We must always remember that in our position we need to be careful not to favor one staff member over another as crossing that line can be hurtful and destructive to our businesses overall productiveness.

Have you encountered favoritism at work?  Tell us what happened?

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