How to Tell if You’re Supporting the Team Proportionately


Are you evenly divvying up your time?

Are you playing favorites with your employees? Initially you may think that’s a crazy question, but what if your actions told your team a different story?

Managing a variety of personality types may present a unique challenge and one that if ignored, could result in some member of the team feeling less favored and overlooked.

Your job is to treat your employees with fairness in relation to the inherent inequalities that come with the job. In other words, not every employee will be equally motivated or successful; some are bound to be stars, making big sales, working after hours, growing exponentially. That employee should be the first to get approved for a day off; that’s not favoritism, it’s fairness.

But fairness isn’t always as easy as it seems. Here are some ways to notice if you’re treating your employees differently based on all the wrong things.

  • You remind me of me – are you prone to being more inclusive to employee who mostly resembles you? Are you both the same gender, nationality, sexuality or religion? Do you both have kids the same age? Do you look similarly? Come from the same city? Have the same career goals? While these qualities could make it more pleasant to work with the person, giving them special treatment or using them as your go-to based solely on the comfortable feeling they give you would be showing preferential treatment.
  • We have the same outside hobbies – so you both root for the Giants or like listening to classic rock? Maybe you both like golfing a few holes on the weekend. Does this make you more prone to share your work time with this employee? Are you putting them in charge of the new project because you feel you know them a little better? This is preferential treatment.
  • MY boss loves you – ignoring all other factors in effort to play in to your boss’ opinion is a bad idea. If the employee isn’t meeting the requirements of the job and your manager doesn’t see it, playing into their admiration can cause problems in productivity and office morale. Definitely avoid this preferential treatment.
  • Sharing the same vices – don’t let the bond you forge over smoke breaks and coffee breaks give them the one-up on new projects. Once your back in the office, make sure everyone’s on a level playing field.

So you realized you do, in fact, favorite some employees for the wrong reasons. What should you ask yourself to correct the effects?

Are your decisions clear? When you make a tough decision, you might need to explain how you arrived at it to avoid misinterpretations. Implement a standard for assignment delegation: if Bill has accounting experience, he can do the budget. If Mary handles marketing, she gets to go to the marketing seminar.  If Joe has more seniority, he gets the first pick of vacation days.

Are you evenly divvying up your time? A manager’s time is a precious thing, if you find yourself with one go-to employee, you’re probably sending a powerful message. Dividing your time equally, whether weekly, monthly or quarterly will display your commitment to building team relationships. Focused one-on-one check-ins are a great way to begin doing this.

Is everyone aware of their performance and expectations? Are you offering transparent feedback about the performance of your team or are you leaving them guessing? If it’s the latter, you should reconsider. Being up front with how an employee is doing will eliminate the unnecessary ambiguity that might be fueling the fire.

It’s not uncommon for you to have people you prefer to work with, but a leader cannot create an environment where employees feel unimportant, unchallenged and underappreciated. Be careful to sidestep those instinctual favoriting behaviors and re-engage with your team as a whole.


Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

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