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How to avoid favoritism

Think back to your grade school days - you probably knew one or two "teacher's pets," students that the teachers obviously favored over the others. However, this occurrence doesn't necessarily stop with school. If you are a manager or have some sort of position of authority, chances are good that you probably have one or two employees you favor over the others. Perhaps they turn their work in on time, or maybe they are more willing to go the extra mile. Or maybe you just click with them better than everyone else. However, regardless of the reason, it's important to avoid favoritism in the workplace.

Favoritism in the workplace is never a good thing. It can lead to resentment, jealousy, decreased morale, lowered productivity, and in extreme cases even lawsuits. In addition, it can damage your reputation as a manager.

How to avoid favoritism
The first step to avoiding favoritism is recognizing it; you may be favoring one employee over the other without even knowing it. Some examples of favoritism, both obvious and not so obvious, include:
- Advancing an employee because you like them, not necessarily because of their quality of work.
- Hiring people you already know, such as family members or previous co-workers
- Extending deadlines continually to a specific person or persons with no consequence
- Letting certain things slide, like punctuality or preparedness
- Singling one person out for praise continually, even if others were involved in the success

Now that you know what favoritism entails, you can take steps to avoid it. The following are some tips to help you avoid favoritism in the workplace:
- Be approachable. Create an environment and encourage employees to talk to you about concerns. What they may perceive as favoritism may actually be something else. By having an open-door policy, you reduce the chances of starting rumors and can help your employees feel comfortable speaking with you and expressing their concerns.
- Avoid family relationships in the workplace. Sometimes this is not always possible, but it's best to avoid hiring family members completely. In the very least, put them in a different department. Or, make sure you are holding them to the same standards as everyone else.
- Make sure that all advancements, rewards, and compensation are based solely on performance instead of favoritism. Strive to review each employee honestly based on their quality of work.
- Be aware of office gossip. Prevent perceptions of favoritism by correcting misconceptions when you hear of them, before they get out of hand.
- Evaluate yourself honestly. It's important to look closely at yourself and honestly determine whether or not you are treating one employee better than the others. If you find that you are guilty of favoritism, make sure you do everything in your power to stop it.
- Recognize the consequences. Obvious favoritism can have a very negative impact on your own job as well and extends far beyond just rumors. Legal implications are also involved as well. For example, if you manage a team of all women and one man and single the man out for special treatment or favoritism, you could even be held liable for sexual harassment.

Favoritism in the workplace can be detrimental to both you and your employees. The best thing for you to do is take an honest assessment of yourself, and strive to eliminate favoritism.

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