What hurts an Organization’s Balance sheet the most? It is Favoritism at workplace!

Rabia Dhody | September 29,2014 11:24 am IST

Many of us spend a minimum of at least eight hours at work whether formal or informal. Some people even work up to twelve hours a day.

It is therefore no secret that employees want to work with a boss who is pleasant. It is every organization’s obligation to ensure that they create a conducive and positive work environment for their employees.


Favoritism in the workplace is essentially a manifestation of bad management. However, it is certainly very common and an inevitable factor in your working life.


Bosses who favor come in all shapes and sizes; one of the symptoms of such a boss is that they enjoy having ‘favorite employees’. We have no doubt heard of the term ‘blue-eyed boy’ or a ‘blue eyed girl’ and many times an incompetent manager will surround himself/herself with favorite employees who will never expose his incompetence. The ‘blue -eyed’ employees tell on other employees and always do favors for the boss. This type of incompetent and negative boss will cover up for these same employees and will always cover up for them and their poor performance. The subordinates they like will always score very high marks and will receive a higher percentage when it comes to salary increments.


Consider the feelings of the ‘office angel’ who might feel that being teacher's pet is damaging the working relationship with their colleagues. Well-deserved promotions and praise for hard work might also go unnoticed by colleagues who say ‘it’s because you’re the boss’s favorite’. Some ‘office angels’ might go the extra mile to outperform their colleagues. Mistakes might be concealed, or blame placed on other colleagues, just so that the preferential treatment can be kept.


Such situations will most likely lead to a stifling work environment; distrust and lack of creativity will be witnessed. Members of favourite groups will come to despise the out-group for their suggested “lack of abilities”, whilst the out-group will despise the in-group for being favored and will lose self-esteem.


If you are a boss or in a supervisory Role, Ask yourself, what would your team members say about you when not pressurized? Are you fair to all because of their performance? Are you hand holding all or only your Favorites? We use modern concepts such as ‘corporate social responsibility’, ‘triple bottom line’, ‘fair-trade’, ‘sustainability’, ‘social enterprise’, ‘micro-finance’, and ‘wellbeing’ or ‘work-life balance’. Talking from a macro perspective, organizations seem to be heading in the right direction. However, a closer look at the individual may reveal a contradictory personal picture. Let us face it, western or eastern, individualistic or collectivist, we are all harried at some stage of our career by these internal politics. How can you ensure that your team members are not subjected to dejection or this kind of a set up that ruins productivity and people start looking out for a change, some might even go at lower salaries?


Ensure that you DO NOT practice the following:

Don’t overly praise in public: Save all the praises if genuine for the reviews and not for public display unless healthy.


Don’t judge too quickly/Perception based decisions: Employees who are of a reserved nature may not openly speak about their work successes and hurdles, so it’s up to supervisors and managers to pay attention. It’s worth arranging a weekly team update where all employees have a chance to speak about their work progress or the support required. It is imperative that you as a boss do not just listen to them but also go that extra mile to support them achieve their goals, what is more important is you have a larger platform to bank on!


One rule for all: Apply your rule s consistently and aptly and for all. Do not set different rules for different team members in same situation.


Distribute new projects fairly: Give everyone an opportunity to shine. As said reserved employees may be able to do it extremely well if handheld like your favorites. Do not let that favorite word sink into you and distribute work accordingly.


Team updates: Provide updates in a clear and concise manner to the whole team together. Personal relations can be practiced post working hours. Do not encourage employees who tend to get glued onto the bosses only to gain their attention. Remember this won’t take them too far nor you.


Rewarding fairly: ensure you know your team at the back of your hand and are fair in your dealings. Never let the boss feeling seep in. Even Superman knew that with great powers comes greater responsibility.


Know when to stop:  in case an employee in the team is trying to be overly close, know when to strike a distance. This would otherwise cause animosity within the team and a superiority complex within the blue eyed person.


Know the Drivers of each : Team members may have different motivational needs at different times, as a manager you need to know the triggers and pull them off at the right time Equally and for all .



Rabia Dhody is an MBA from University of Pune, and is currently working as Vice President in Jabong.com for the last 2 years. Prior to Jabong she has worked as Motricity- HR Head South Asia, HR Business Partner with Dell India and as manager with Reliance Capital - Life Insurance Division....