March 21, 2011

Is Favoritism at Work a Good Thing?

Yes. Let me explain myself, before you judge me. 

There's not enough time in the day to invest in everyone. The higher you move up in position, the less time you have to spend with people. As a leader, you have to make a choice. Spend your time wisely on those you trust and see potential in.

Be fair when it comes to how you treat people. Follow the same policy that applies to your entire workforce, but don't confuse fairness with productivity. In sports, coaches make decisions based on players' abilities and urgency within the situation. Why should it be any different in the workplace? 

Ultimately, as a worker, it comes back to you. Have you given your supervisor a reason to look your way? How are you standing out from the crowd? As a manager, would you want to invest time in yourself?

Don't confuse favoritism with nepotism. It's not the same. Earn your "favor" with others by your work ethic, professionalism and how you treat others.  


  1. Scott, I love the point you bring up here. So much management training teaches to not play favorites... to distribute tasks evenly, to provide opportunities evenly, etc. But I think management owes it to those who put in extra effort, perform extra well, and really put themselves on the line for the company to earn a little bit of favoritism. Reward your top, most invested performers with opportunities according to their proven track record. It's beneficial to both parties... management gets continued results from the said favorite and the employee gets opportunities that may have otherwise been limited to 'even distribution' - and it could drive otherwise underachievers to push harder to see the same favor.

    The book "First, Break All the Rules" addresses this 'favoritism' phenomenon in pretty deep detail, too.

  2. Megan, great comment! Yes, I think it works both ways for employer and employee. I have read "First, Break all the Rules" and it does make that point. You being the hard worker/achiever would benefit from this type of "treatment."


Thanks for your comment!