It’s human nature to like some people more than others, including people at work. If you lead a team, it’s crucial to keep any favoritism in check. Otherwise, it can foster a sense of unfairness within the team, decrease morale and create resentment.

One study shows that more than 75% of employees say they have seen favoritism in the workplace. Ben Brearley, MBA, a leadership coach and trainer, says that while it’s not inherently bad to have a favorite employee, it becomes harmful if it impacts the way you lead.

In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we share Brearley’s thoughts on how you can spot the warning signs that you’re treating a favorite employee differently and how you can change course.

Watch how you spend your time. Maybe you give more of your attention to one or two of your high-performing sales reps, or perhaps you always carve out time to chat with a particular staff member. You don’t need to spend equal time with everyone on your team, Brearley says, but you should pay attention if there’s a major imbalance.

Reduce the private conversations. One-on-ones are great – just make sure you’re having these discussions with all your team members.

Give everyone a chance. Whenever possible, try to ensure that everyone on your team has equal access to training, projects, job openings and other opportunities.

Establish clear boundaries. Brearley advises leaders to clarify boundaries with all employees, including topics that may be off limits, like sensitive company information.

Stay aware of potential bias. If you have a favorite employee, Brearley says you might fall prey to the halo effect. This is when we rate one aspect of someone as favorable and then assume they have other positive traits. In other words, he says to be cautious you don’t become blind to the person’s potential shortcomings.

Formalize it. Do you call someone your “second in command,” even though it’s not in their job description? If so, Brearley suggests formalizing it by updating their role description and making sure they’re compensated for any extra duties. Otherwise, it’s like their compensation is more influence or access to information.

Great employees are like gold. While it’s good to appreciate them, make sure you’re not overlooking the silvers and bronzes on your team. When you avoid playing favorites, you help create a more positive and productive workplace for everyone.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Ben Brearley, MBA is a leadership coach, trainer and facilitator with nearly two decades of management and consulting experience leading teams and projects in a variety of industries.