Secrets of Success: Do you play favorites?

Do you play favorites? How can I answer that without any sugarcoating? DON’T! If you cater to one or more employees over others, it confirms you are intentionally exhibiting some form of neglect and harassment. It may seem very innocent and reasonable to give more attention and offer greater leeway to a staffer you perceive as more reliable and ambitious. However, this favoritism, no matter how minor, is the fuse to a practice time bomb! Low morale, costly staff turnover, loss of good staff, resentment, retaliation, reduced productivity, poor management practices and lack of teamwork. Boom! I won’t mention lawsuit.

You have a responsibility to treat employees fairly and equally, across the board. This could apply to a number of incidents. (Look in your employee manual – I’m sure the equality/discrimination rules are clearly defined and if disregarded, will certainly come with consequences. If you have issues with underperforming staff, have that discussion with them through evaluations and reviews, opportunities for improvement, and disciplinary write ups. If their level of performance does not improve after guidance and counseling, then take the necessary termination steps.  

Following is a short list of common, blatant favoritism behaviors. There is no excuse for any one of them. Use it as a self-assessment test and be honest with yourself. 

If you have had a role in any of the above, intentional or not, insisting it’s all in jest (not funny), take the necessary steps to rectify things right now. 

  • Treat everyone equal.
  • Be aware of your behaviors and actions – innocent as they may seem. 
  • Follow written employee policy and office rules and apply them across the board, equally. 
  • Conduct performance reviews and base wage increases, perks, etc. on levels of actual performance. 
  • Assign duties based on skills, abilities and job descriptions. 
  • Enjoy your workplace, with everyone, equally.
  • Communicate.
  • Treat everyone equal.

If you believe this is overreaction, brace yourself. It’s just a matter of time before even the slightest discrimination will cause a backlash that will play out as an internal disruption or a legal repercussion. I am a huge proponent of joy in the workplace. Have fun. Did I mention treat everyone equal?

Ms. Homisak, President of SOS Healthcare & Management Solutions, has a Certificate in Human Resource Studies from Cornell University School of Industry and Labor Relations. She is the 2010 recipient of Podiatry Management’s Lifetime Achievement Award and recently inducted into the PM Hall of Fame. Lynn is also an Editorial Advisor for Podiatry Management Magazine and recognized nationwide as a speaker, writer and expert in staff and human resource management.


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