Maria has been working in the finance department of her organization for nearly three years. About a year ago, another associate, Danielle, was brought on who was coincidentally a friend of the department manager. Everything was seemingly running smoothly during the new employee’s introductory period, but then Danielle started coming into work late and was taking long lunches, but was not disciplined for this behavior in any way (the assumption being that Danielle and the manager were taking lunch together).

One week, Maria’s daughter was sent home from school with the stomach flu. Maria had to leave work early that day without providing advance notice and was late the following two mornings while waiting for childcare to arrive. Due to the last-minute nature of her tardiness and her need to leave work unexpectedly, Maria was given a record of discussion and was reminded of the organization’s policy on attendance.

Additionally, Maria and Danielle both applied for the position of team lead, but Maria, whose tenure and experience far outweighed that of the newer recruit, was overlooked for the spot, the position going to Danielle, the manager’s favored employee. Maria quickly became disgruntled at work, her frustration with the favoritism of Danielle creating a volatile working environment and a gradual loss of productivity.

An unfortunate situation many of us in HR and management positions are all too familiar with, showing favoritism is a surefire way to create tension and resentment amongst your team and between employees and managers. With a focus on nurturing and helping your employees grow and develop into the best professionals they can be, this inequitable treatment amongst employees can be highly detrimental, making them feel undervalued and unappreciated which can lead to a loss of productivity and motivation.

Managers are no different than anyone else and it is understandable that certain personalities get along better with others. However, in an effort to derail the perception of favoritism, follow some of these tips to avoid favoritism in the workplace:

  • Allow for individual meetings with each employee on a regular, informal basis to discuss performance and allow for two-way feedback
  • Focus on an employee’s strengths and experience when giving promotions
  • Allow for all employees to have equal opportunities for projects and assignments
  • Refrain from gossip as this only fuels the perception of favoritism
  • Make an effort to understand those employees who are most different from you

Implementing a few of these techniques into your daily interactions with employees can help ensure your team does not foster any feelings of animosity and resentment. Next week we will discuss another obstacle to nurturing employees: a lack of communication.