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March 16, 1998

Playing Favorites

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To show partiality is not good. PROVERBS 28:21
It’s one of the cornerstones of good parenting—don’t play favorites with your children. Nothing ever good comes of favoritism; it can only lead to resentment, bitterness, jealousy, discouragement, and a host of other negative attitudes and feelings among siblings.
The same principle applies at work. Playing favorites with employees is bad for business. It dampens morale. It stirs up discord and resentment among the other workers. It forces employees to take sides, which hurts productivity. It also could harm the “favored” employee’s relationships with her coworkers, especially if she is uncomfortable being put in the position of “favorite” or “golden child.”
To avoid showing partiality doesn’t mean employees who perform well shouldn’t be rewarded. Nor does it mean a boss can’t have a closer relationship with one associate than with another. Not all personality types mesh, and no one can be best buddies with everyone. It does mean, however, that regardless of the level of friendship that exists between a supervisor and his team, all employees deserve to be treated equally and with respect.
This means that “reverse favoritism” also must be avoided. Most of us enjoy being around people with certain personality types, and there are other personality types that we tend not to prefer. In other words, there are people we like and people we don’t like. That’s to be expected. But if our dislike of a subordinate or coworker causes us to treat her unfairly, to be unkind to her, or to pass her over for a promotion or enviable assignment even though she’s the most qualified person for the job, then we’re practicing reverse favoritism.
Think about how you treat your coworkers and employees. Are you guilty of showing partiality? As the writer of Proverbs says, that’s not good. So what are you going to do about it?

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