How Favoritism Impacts Employees And How Leaders Can Fix It
What’s a surefire way for business leaders to erode employee trust?
Practicing favoritism or showing preferential treatment to specific individuals on the team. If you’ve caught yourself doing this, recognize that you can take immediate steps to reverse adverse effects and ensure a positive impact on all employees.
Let’s look at how favoritism can negatively affect employee morale and what you can do to improve it.
The Frustrating Consequences Of Favoritism
When company leaders show preferential treatment to specific individuals, it doesn’t just affect those in the limelight. Based on my experience, it can create a ripple effect that can disrupt team harmony, lower morale and decrease overall productivity. This ripple touches every corner of the organization, from the quiet desks of the hard-working but overlooked employees to the energetic group enthusiasm for collaborative projects.
As trust erodes, the fabric of teamwork begins to fray, potentially leading to silos, decreased productivity and an environment where innovation takes a backseat. Leaders who allow favoritism to dictate decisions instead of merit and performance may unintentionally seed an organizational culture of division and skepticism. Over time, such a culture not only pushes talent away but also erodes the foundational values and vision that an organization stands for.
Reversing The Effects Of Favoritism
To foster a genuinely inclusive, productive and vibrant workplace, recognizing and combating favoritism should be a priority for every leader. While it’s crucial to acknowledge your own fault and claim responsibility in such a situation, guilting yourself won’t help anybody. Once you’ve admitted your misstep, begin taking action to create a positive working environment and get everyone back on track.
Here are some urgent actions you can take:
1. Practice self-awareness and transparency.
Recognize your biases and tendencies toward favoritism. Maintain clear communication with the team about decisions, promotions, raises and other matters. When employees understand the reasoning behind certain choices, it reduces feelings of favoritism.
2. Create equal opportunities.
Strive to give all team members equal opportunities for growth, recognition and development. This includes fair distribution of challenging projects, training opportunities and exposure to higher-ups.
3. Give merit-based recognition.
Recognize and reward employees based on their skills, performance and contributions rather than personal relationships. Establish objective criteria for evaluating and acknowledging achievements.
4. Encourage an open-door policy.
Create an open-door approach to feedback where employees feel comfortable discussing concerns or issues like favoritism. Address such concerns promptly and take appropriate action.
5. Schedule regular feedback and performance reviews.
Conduct regular and constructive performance reviews for all employees. Provide specific feedback on strengths and areas for improvement and set clear goals for career advancement.
6. Provide a rotation of opportunities.
Rotate employees through different projects, teams or roles to provide exposure to different aspects of the organization. This prevents individuals from feeling stuck or unfairly excluded.
7. Offer leadership training.
Provide leadership training to managers and supervisors, emphasizing the importance of unbiased decision-making, fostering a positive team culture and recognizing the potential pitfalls of favoritism.
8. Lead by example.
Leaders should model fair and ethical behavior, treating all team members with respect and empathy. When employees see their leaders acting impartially, it sets the tone for the entire organization.
Leadership is as much about recognizing our shortcomings as it is about guiding others. Favoritism, even when unintentional, can sabotage the best of teams.
By taking deliberate steps to rectify this behavior, leaders strengthen their teams and solidify their leadership’s integrity. By addressing favoritism and actively working to create a level playing field, leaders can help reverse the adverse effects on good employees. The result is a positive work environment that fosters collaboration, productivity and employee satisfaction.