Three Tips to Avoid Perceptions of Favoritism

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Behavioral research in the laboratory with monkeys as subjects, revealed consistent negative reactions to perceived favoritism.

In the first experiment, there was one monkey in a cage. This monkey was rewarded when he accomplished a desired action. The award was a juicy slice of cucumber. The monkey was excited and happy to get his reward. In the second part of this experiment, a second monkey was put in a cage beside him. When the second monkey accomplished the same desired action, he received a slice of banana as a reward.

Observing this, the first monkey shook his cage, howled and threw his cucumber out of the cage. He strongly objected to the better reward that the second monkey was receiving. In the second experiment, there were eight monkeys in a row and each was given one grape. All the monkeys were happy to receive their grape and ate it. Next, the researcher started giving only one of the monkeys three grapes instead of just one. The other seven monkeys observed this and shook their cage, howled and threw their grape back out of their cage.

We can learn from this behavioral research and know that in the same way, your team members will always be on the alert for perceived favoritism. Here are three tips to avoid perceptions of favoritism:

#1 Touch base with every team member to check in with them

Ask about how their projects are going and show some personal interest in them as an individual.

#2 Keep everyone in the loop

Communicate what’s going on in the company and in the department. When your employees are in the loop, they will feel like they are included and part of the team.

#3 Cross train and rotate jobs in the work team

Help all your team members take on new skills. As they take on more challenging tasks, they will learn and grow. Avoid giving better assignments to some team members and not to others.Enhancing the capabilities and the flexibility of a work team will make it easier for you to achieve the results and keep the team more content. Since team members are always on the lookout for perceived favoritism, be sure to strive for equality in inclusion across the team.

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