Do you have that one person in your office who goes out of their way to get the job done right for the customer without ever losing their smile? These are the employees we all love to work with because of their work ethic and great attitude. The problem with these employees is that they make it so easy to play favorites, which can kill office morale if you don’t keep a close eye on how you treat the rest of the staff.

Dangers of playing favorites

On the surface, there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with showering your top performers with praise and a few perks. In theory, it should motivate and encourage the rest of the staff to emulate their behavior. Unfortunately, the reality can be that some employees feel underappreciated for the work they do.

Over time, playing favorites can cause other employees to:

  • Leave the company
  • Stop trying to achieve more in their positions
  • Treat the superstar employees poorly.

Recognizing when you’re playing favorites

In all probability, you don’t even realize you’re playing favorites when you do it. An easy way to determine if this is a potential issue in your management style is to ask yourself:

  • Do I enforce rules and policies evenly on the entire staff?
  • Do I shower more attention or praise on only certain employees?

For instance, it can be easier to overlook your superstar employee’s tardiness to a meeting, while chastising other employees for the same behavior. As for praise, every employee does something praise-worthy at some point during the week. Are you recognizing even these small achievements or letting them remain in the shadows of the best employees?

Bringing balance to management

Once you determine playing favorites could be killing office morale, it’s a relatively simple matter to turn things around if you stay cognizant of your actions. It could be something as small as changing who you spend time with at lunch if you’re in the habit of eating with certain employees. While this doesn’t seem like a big deal on the surface, the act of inviting an employee to lunch when they feel left out can work wonders. Instead of seeing themselves as the outsider, they can begin to understand how much you value the hard work they do.

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with praising the employees who exude your company’s values – just as long as you can draw the line between praise and playing favorites.

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