The Problems With Practicing Favoritism and Having an Office Pet

There was a name for the student who received all the attention and accolades in grade school….teacher’s pet.  In the workforce there’s a slightly different name for the co-worker who gets all the recognition and rewards…the teacher’s  leader’s pet.  The working definition of a leader’s pet is an individual who receives “preferential treatment” for reasons other than their professional capabilities…such as likeability.                          

A recent study at Georgetown University examined the existence of favoritism in organizations.  More than 300 senior executives participated in the survey study.  According to the study, 92 percent of the senior executives believed that favoritism exists in organizations.  75 percent of the participants reported that they’ve witnessed unfair practices.  Brace yourself for this.  23 percent of the senior executives admitted to playing favorites and promoting the office pet.

Inequity has potentially damaging consequences on organizations and employees.  Research indicates that preferential treatment leads to poor decision making and bad morale.  Bad morale harms  organizations.  Some of my work in the areas of OD Diagnosis and Conflict Management indicates that favoritism also robs individuals of their confidence.  The ignored individuals become less motivated and disengaged on the job.  This could lead to a strained relationship with leadership.  Conflict occurs as a result of strained relations.  And when the infighting starts you can forget about any form of cohesion.

Comments?  How would you intervene? Let me know your thoughts about how to effectively change organizational cultures that promote favoritism in the workplace.


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3 replies

  1. Completely agree. I always hated the “pet” and so do all the other people who aren’t the “pet.” How does that help anyone except the favored and the one who favors? Good read.

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