Of course, you like some members of your team more than others. That’s just human nature. But showing your preferences too often can be detrimental to maintaining a positive organizational culture.
If you’re spending all your time with a few select employees who also get all the promotions, your other employees will lose motivation. They’ll believe that the game is rigged — that the way to move up is to be tight with the boss, rather than be good at their jobs.
We found in our report The Truth Behind Performance Reviews that a big problem with performance reviews is manager bias. Here are some tips for how to skip the office drama and improve your organization’s efficiency:
1. Use objective standards
As much as possible, use performance-based measures to determine who will move up. By using data to determine your decisions, you can demonstrate that you’re selecting the most-qualified person for the job. In education, for example, teachers receive merit-based pay when their students perform well on external exams.
However, there are many instances when it’s difficult to measure why a particular person would be a good fit. When this is the case, talk with long-term employees you trust and get their opinions.
2. Avoid nepotism
Not playing favorites starts with not hiring favorites. You’re setting yourself up to be accused of favoritism when you bring in someone you know well. Think about political officials who appoint their family members to high-level positions.
If you’re hiring someone you’re close to, be 100% sure that they’re very qualified for the job. And be ready for that awkward moment when you’ll have to criticize their work.
3. Praise often
You’re going to have problems when one employee, or one small group of employees, receives all the praise. Be on the lookout for good work at all times. And when you see it, be sure to let them know.
4. Communicate with your team
When you promote an employee or give them desirable work, talk to the rest of your team about why you made that decision. Be as transparent as possible about the objective qualities that person has that make them a good fit. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and it goes a long way toward eliminating any thoughts about how you’re playing favorites.
5. Spend an equal amount of time with employees
Rumors are most likely to begin if you’re spending a lot of time with only specific employees. Instead, have one-on-one meetings with everyone on your team. Don’t socialize too much with any individual employee. And make sure you’re asking for feedback from multiple angles.
Ultimately, avoiding playing favorites doesn’t just help your team and improve morale. By promoting the most-qualified employees, your company will be more successful in the long term.