You might not think you are playing favorites at work, but that doesn’t mean your employees agree with you. And if they believe you are showing favoritism to certain workers, based on your personal feelings for them rather than on their performance, you could be unintentionally making a negative impact on your company’s culture and its bottom line.

If you’re going to motivate and retain your top-performing workers, you need to reward them. But if you hand out bonuses or promotions unfairly or allow certain employees to stretch the rules, you could be damaging your company’s reputation and frustrating the other members of your team.

If you aren’t sure whether your employees think you are playing favorites, here are a few questions to ask yourself. The answers could provide the clue:

Do you spend more time with some employees than others? 

Every worker wants to have a fair portion of their supervisor’s time. When you spend a disproportionate time with just a few of your people, you could be sending the wrong message to the rest of your team. Instead of scheduling check-ins with each of their team members, a lot of managers tend to have go-to workers with whom they spend the majority of their time having discussions.

No matter how frequently you touch base or how long the meetings last, it’s important to give equal time to everyone who reports to you. By doing so you build similar relationships with all of your workers, and you give them an opportunity to tell you about their accomplishments and frustrations. When it becomes obvious that everyone has the same amount of time with you, it quashes any notion that you have your favorites.

Do your employees know where they stand on the team?

It’s essential that any manager is above board when it comes to deciding salary, promotions and department policies. Having regular one-on-one performance discussions with each team member can help mitigate any complaints of favoritism.

During these meetings, you can have open and honest conversations that explain how you view their contributions and what opportunities for promotions exist. As a result of these meetings, everyone should end up with the same set of expectations for the future, and you can avoid the perception of favoritism. This type of transparency will also pay dividends in the form of higher morale and increased productivity.

Do you make your decisions clear to everyone?

Your decision-making process might be clear in your mind, but you failed to make it understandable to your people. Maybe you decided to send one of your workers to a training program that others would have liked to attend. You need to clarify both the criteria and the rationale for choosing one individual over the others. Once you do that, you can avoid any misunderstandings and prevent false rumors.

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