In our previous posts Motivating Workplace Safety and Recognizing Safety All-Stars, we’ve discussed the ways safety supervisors can positively reinforce and influence safe practices by staff members. Some of the suggestions we offered were public recognition, small rewards and words of praise.
All of these methods encourage safe behavior in a positive environment and promote best practices in the future. However, with these methods there also exists the potential for favoritism, or perceived favoritism, among staff.
Perceptions of favoritism can act to undercut the very initiatives managers and supervisors use to support workers, and if not distributed fairly can lead to an atmosphere of resentment. Resentment can then lead to a decrease in productivity and an increase in absenteeism. Thus it is essential to quash perceptions of playing favorites.
Article Base blogger Phil Morettini has pointed out that it is not preferential treatment that does the damage, but merely the perception of favoritism that will hurt an organization. Morettini lists three situations under which problems occur:
- When a good rapport and shared interest give the impression that an employee is receiving preferential treatment by management.
- When a manager actually gives preferential treatment to one individual at the expense of others.
- When preferential treatment of one individual leads to undeserved rewards and promotions, generally known as nepotism.
Luckily there are simple ways to balance workplace bahavior to prevent the negative perceptions of favoritism.
How to avoid appearances of favoritism:
1. Coach those who need improvement
While it is crucial to positively reward those who are taking strides to act safely, it is just as important to help develop the same skill set in those who lack them. By giving under performing individuals training and coaching, worker performance will improve and the perception of favoritism will diminish.
2. Give performance-based praise and rewards
The best way to establish grounds for praise and rewards is to create objective benchmarks for success.This is may be obvious, but positive feedback and rewards need to be based on employee actions. Specific, behavior-oriented benchmarks will establish when and in what instances specific rewards are deserved. This establishes a basis for treating all workers equally.
3. Focus on your bahavior
Many supervisors may not be aware of how their interactions appear to others, which can be part of problem. Because it is the perception of favoritism that does damage, a great first step in prevention is to ask for feedback. Bi-annual or annual employee surveys will help to see problems in behaviour that may have otherwise have gone unnoticed. Another way to receive feedback is to asks peers to give honest observations on interactions and behaviour.
4. Make communication a priority
By creating a workplace culture that supports open communication, your staff will be more likely to come to you when they feel certain members are unfairly given preferential treatment. By the same token, an open dialogue will allow you to stamp out any misconceptions about your behaviour before it becomes detrimental to the workplace.
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