BrainTrust Query: Favoritism
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Retail Contrarian, the blog of Dynamic Experiences Group.
We all have employees who make our life a little easier. They take on tasks without being asked and can always be counted on to get things done.
This same person often reminds us of ourselves. If we’re driven and dedicated, they’re often driven and dedicated. If we’re outgoing, they are too. The fact is that you simply like the person. It doesn’t mean you like the other staff less, but the truth is that you have a favorite employee.
I always knew that I shouldn’t have favorites, but I couldn’t always help it.
One day when I was talking to one of my managers the topic of favorites somehow came up. I said I felt badly that I had favorites, but I couldn’t help it. There were just employees who for one reason or another I liked more than others.
He told me something I’ve never forgotten. He reminded me that having favorites isn’t an issue, but showing favoritism is. Bingo! I couldn’t necessarily control how I felt about people, but I could manage how I acted in front of my team. Favoritism divides a team and creates unnecessary conflict. It gives some employees more opportunities than others. It’s just plain not a healthy thing for leaders to indulge in.
I took a hard look at my own actions as a manager to see if I was showing favoritism. I can’t remember the specific list, but here are few things I’m sure I was "guilty" of:
- Hanging out in my office or on the floor with some employees more than others.
- Not sharing tasks and projects evenly among the team. I’m not sure that would have broken a non-favorite’s heart, but at the same time it did give the favorites a leg up on being promoted or getting time off the floor.
- Slipped my favorites a couple extra sales. Of course, I justified this because of everything they did for me, but at the same time I was depriving others of the opportunity.
- Confiding in favorites. I was definitely guilty of this when I was a young manager until it caught up to me. I had way too many conversations early in my career that began, "Just between us…" Not a good thing. (I hate admitting that!)
- Sharing what my favorites and I were doing outside of work at the store. I could write a whole Daily about whether or not a manager/owner should be friends with employees outside of work, but the reality is that most of them are.
Over time I learned to not show favoritism, but I always had to remain on guard against slipping back into that behavior. I wasn’t perfect, but just being aware of the issue made me a better leader of a stronger team.
Discussion Questions: In what ways, if at all, is favoritism by store managers harmful to retail selling? How widespread is favoritism on retail’s selling floors? Are there steps upper management could be taking to reduce favoritism at the individual store level?