Have you ever found cases of favouritism in the workplace? This occurs when one staff member receives special treatment while everyone else is cast aside. Have you found that one staff member gets praised excessively or that person is always the go-to for great parts of a project? The fact is we are no strangers to the topic of favouritism because at some point of our careers at various workplaces there must have been cases of favouritism.
The truth is there is a great practise of favouritism in every office however this is never discussed. There is also a severe impact of favouritism whether you are the victim or the one being treated you will feel the effects of it. A survey conducted by a university discovered that a number of senior business executives have seen favouritism in motion when it comes to employee promotions and incentives.
Unfortunately, the exposure to favouritism leaves staff feeling demotivated, frustrated and annoyed at work due to the circumstances. People don’t want to feel like they are watching from the sidewalk they want to be involved and included and sadly being picked last or in some cases left out makes them feel like they have had enough.
There are a number of negative consequences of favouritism. People will start resenting their co-workers, they will feel disconnected from teams and group tasks. It is also possible that only choosing to favour certain team members might result in overlooking growth opportunities in other staff members. We run the risk of not exploring their potential hence leaving them stuck in the same position without growth.
At the same time we have to acknowledge that favouritism is actually human nature. It starts with liking something in someone and seeing it grow from there. But this is not healthy as this holds us back from seeing the different sides of other employees. What can we do to address the issues of favouritism?
- If you are a victim of favouritism the first thing to do would be to speak out. But before you do that, conduct a self-evaluation to see if you are actually the victim. If you find that indeed you have the capabilities but you are overlooked then speak to managers and supervisors to see why this person seems to get the longer end of the stick and follow through with what can be done to change it.
- Don’t corner your boss and demand that they acknowledge the feelings you have. Prepare for the conversation adequately and maintain notable points. Remember we are all adults so we shouldn’t sound like we are whining about something like pre-schoolers.
- Even though you feel like a victim continue to work hard. Never allow the favouritism to affect your hard work. Continue to work hard, be professional and meet deadlines to ensure that you achieve company goals.
- Try not to be angry towards the one being favoured. Sometimes they might not even know they are being favoured.
- Stay calm and be positive. Don’t let this issue of favouritism be a reason why you become the person that sees the glass as half empty.
- If you have tried everything and still haven’t had any joy then the next step would be to inform HR. By getting HR involved allows you to weigh in on the options available to sort out this issue.
But what if you are the one being favoured. What are your steps to follow?
- Start by speaking up. Talk to your boss. There are no upsides in favouritism. Usually, you are favoured but this leads to you advancing in positions you are not qualified for and as a result this means you won’t perform to company standards. This would also mean you are surrounded by people who will feel that you are only in a position because you were favoured. They won’t be supportive and won’t include you in their team.
- Share the spotlight. If you find you are always in the spotlight, use it as a chance to rope in others who never get the chance.
- Don’t feel like you have to accept the benefits of being the favourite. Yes, it is difficult to refuse but sometimes you need to take a step back to understand why you were given an assignment or promotion. Is it on merit or is it because you are a favourite?
Navigating through the favouritism in the office can be hard but we have to always remain professional. As much as it might seem like you are ratting out someone for being the favourite these steps have to be taken to ensure a healthy work environment.
Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute, a South African TVET College. He is the author of Racism, Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs That Divide Us, AND My Leadership Legacy Journal available from the ICHAF Training Institute.
The ICHAF Training Institute offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.