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How to Protect Your Workplace from Playing Favorites

03 November 2022

A favorite is completely acceptable. Everyone has a favorite book to pour their mind into, a favorite destination to unwind, a favorite person, and a piece of favorite music to jam to. It's a never-ending list of favorites. However, when we discuss showing bias at work, the situation is different. In other cases, it is also unlawful and toxic.


We all have prejudices depending on our histories, upbringings, regular social circles, etc. Even if we do our best to avoid bias, our unconscious mind constantly makes assumptions about people and other things. This causes us to gravitate toward people who have our interests or backgrounds, whether we are aware of it or not.


When this occurs at work, a boss, manager, or supervisor must need to be alert and disapprove of any actions or conduct that can be interpreted as favoritism. Unfortunately, reality shows something different. According to studies, senior executives frequently display bias in the organizations where they are employed. Even before the start of a formal selection procedure, the majority of managers already have a mental list of favorites to promote. The position will probably go to the favorite even if he or she is not the best candidate for the role. Even though these businesses have measures in place to guard against it, particularly during the process of promotion, the culture still exists. More than half report having seen favoritism firsthand, and some even openly admit to engaging in it themselves.


There are a number of indicators that bias is occurring at work. For example, you probably observe that your supervisor frequently hangs out with particular employees to discuss matters unrelated to the workplace. Additionally, they talk about work-related issues more frequently. Favored workers make mistakes, and the employer either excuses them or utilizes their position of power to do so. Additionally, certain employees only have access to the open door policy, and you may have seen that they are given lighter or less work than other members of the team including you. You probably have noticed that when resources are scarce, managers prioritize some employees when allocating resources. When things go tough, the supervisor exclusively assists and mentors their favorite staff and even prepares them for career advancement.


Additionally, these workers receive more appreciation than other workers do. Additionally, they are widely regarded for a raise or a performance evaluation that do not agree with what they presented. In addition, these workers frequently receive feedback that will help them perform their jobs better than other workers who either receive it infrequently or must proactively request it. Favoritism also exists when a choice is made or a project is conceptualized based only on the ideas of a select few. They automatically take one employee's side in disputes at work without first hearing everyone's perspective. Additionally, certain important information for the workplace is only given to those who are liked.


Fortunately, there are steps that employees can take to combat favoritism and refuse to accept it.



The first step is to conduct the situational analysis in the most logical manner feasible. You should first examine what is occurring with a reasonable brain because emotions may be involved. Recall the specific instance when you believed favoritism was occurring. Consider all the potential reasons why that colleague received preferential treatment over yourself and your other co-workers. Do they possess a trait, a qualification, or a connection to your supervisor that will influence the latter's judgment? To know what to do next, you must conduct your assessment logically.


Consult with a mentor who is not involved in the problem as this may help you maintain a logical viewpoint. Present to them your first interpretation of the situation and state your desired outcome. You should be receptive to their viewpoint and give them the benefit of the doubt when they offer recommendations. These insightful observations can assist you in developing a workable solution to your favoritism issue.


After giving it some thought, you must be steadfast in your choice and subsequent line of action. To combat this culture of partiality at work, feel comfortable speaking up for yourself. Give comprehensive and convincing proof of the partiality you are challenging. Make sure you are direct to the point so as not to confuse anyone or have any miscommunication issues.



If you are a manager, boss, superior, or leader at work, you are both a part of the issue and a part of the solution. Ask yourself whether you have any hidden prejudices. The Implicit Association Test was developed by Harvard University to assist people in identifying sensations and thoughts that may not be present in their conscious awareness. Individuals will recognize feelings and ideas that are not obvious using these tests.


Put procedures in place to stop favoritism if you decide that you don't do it at all. Make policies that will put an end to the favoritism that exists in the private workplace. They will feel invested in the attempts to fight favoritism if you ask them about it and solicit their opinions and thoughts. Creating a culture free of partiality is considerably easier when your staff is involved. Finally, but certainly not least, enlist the aid of a leadership coach. Even if you may already hold a managerial role at work, you can still learn from others.


For a predetermined amount of time, the coach will test your perspective and way of thinking while also offering you constructive criticism. This will make it easier for you to resist showing partiality or giving into your natural tendencies to favor one person over another.


Workplace favoritism is not a good idea since it undermines employee confidence, breeds resentment, causes conflicts, and stifles partnerships and collaboration.



While you're striving to provide the best for all of your employees, why not give them ergonomic furniture so they can operate at their peak efficiency and support the expansion of the business. Instead of playing favorites, just ensure that you are giving the best treatment to your employees so that they, in turn, perform at their best.