Favoritism --- A Detriment to Success.
By Dr. Rick Johnson
Tuesday, 14th August 2012
'A fish rots from the head down; management favoritism is one way the deterioration can start'.

Favoritism is generally a personal matter. A manager likes someone, so he or she gives that person breaks. Sometimes favoritism is obvious; other times it's subtle. In every case, however, favoritism divides. It pits employees against each other (not always consciously), forcing them to compete for attention. No one likes to feel left out or passed over. Favoritism in the workplace can be one of the most demotivating factors in any culture.

Many businesses have improved in this area but favoritism may still exist. Some of it could even be unintentional but that doesn't matter. As long as favoritism is perceived to be occurring, there is a problem. Showing favoritism to one employee can alienate the rest of the entire department.

A Desire to do Good

Sometimes favoritism arises from a genuine desire to do something good for an employee that then evolves into a mentor turned-monster scenario. Often favoritism exists as a form of office politics, with employees jockeying for position in the kiss-my-ring line. Going into the CEO's office every single morning just to say hello and not being challenged for it is a form of favoritism.

Even if complaints have not been made, most HR professionals who are involved with a department will unearth favoritism without much effort. The symptoms are pretty obvious—the same people are in the boss's office chatting, perhaps they socialize outside of work, or, their work doesn't get the same level of scrutiny. Or, when a position opens up, the boss wants to put his loyal employee in the job, rather than opening it up to more qualified candidates. Gifts are given to favorite employees.

Workplace favoritism can be a subtle thing. Individual accomplishment is not always as strong an indicator of workplace success as we would hope. Every manager, being human, likes some subordinates more than others. Friendships develop with some, not others. Some companies have an "All of the Above" problem with favoritism and it just doesn't exist at one level in the organization.

There are all types of problems that can be associated with favoritism from who gets what desk or office, who goes to lunch first or with whom, break times, work load, room temperature, and many other conditions that can create unease amongst employees.

Cronyism is a more specific form of favoritism, referring to partiality towards friends and associates. As the old saying goes, "It's not what you know but who you know". Favoritism and cronyism all interfere with fairness because they give undue advantage to someone who does not necessarily deserve this treatment.

There is a Fine Line between Favoritism & Development of Star Players

When an employee truly does bring a special and highly valued talent or ability to your department, of course you must recognize that in some way. High performers need constant challenge to keep them interested and motivated. They need new responsibilities, recognition and praise, and higher salaries.

At the same time, it's important — and essential — for you to make it clear that you are committed to providing opportunities for all employees who report to you. As valuable as one person might be, your department cannot succeed in meeting its goals without the full cooperation and collaboration of all its members.

Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution's "Leadership Strategist", founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage. Need a speaker for your next event, E-mail rick@ceostrategist.com.

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