Favourites? I Think Not…..

I’ve been catching up with a few of my most treasured past colleagues for lunch recently. It’s always lovely to see people who I have shared a journey with, and even more fab that we can start the conversation where we left off. I am fortunate as many of these relationships continue to be full of mutual trust and good will. These people are senior managers/executives and, when we catch up we laugh heartily and then get onto shared problems – nutting them out together seems to make them smaller, more manageable and less, well, personal.

One recent conversation was surrounding the issue of “Favourites” – the perception that such and such is “the pet” and is given “special treatment” (you know the drill). All of us admitted to experiencing this at one time or another, both from the perspective of being a favourite and being perceived as having favourites.

All are true to a few essential ingredients up front: we all value integrity, supporting and encouraging our team members, rewarding and recognising success. We all follow internal processes to ensure probity and have systems in place to ensure people can succeed and perform and work in a place that is safe.

That being said there is a series of commonalities for those people who tend to be categorised as being a “favourite”. These people generally speaking:

  • Are star performers – they are competent at their jobs and they can do, and do do, the work you are paying them for (bliss).
  • Have a good attitude and work ethic and work to improve their outcomes – they are innovative, look to make the situation better and often endeavour leave a legacy.
  • Are high achievers, get a great sense of pride from the quality of their work and their achievements. You rarely have to ask these people twice for something or check up on them. They deliver.
  • Are sponges and keen to learn whatever they can, whenever possible and then actively apply this knowledge in their roles.
  • Are genuine sorts of folk – authentically themselves and not pretending to be someone else. They seem to be comfortable with who they are.
  • Include others – they are collaborative and inclusive and work across organisations. They tend to share the credit, the success and the limelight.
  • Work for fulfilment – although they may seek these on the odd occasion, they do not endlessly seek increases in status, time off, salary increases or control.
  • Expert in managing up – they know how to connect with their manager, what is important to their manager and they deliver on their promises. They ensure their manager is across their work and include the manager whenever possible: they work with the manager in a co-operative way.
  • Are trustworthy and work to build trust, they are honest and do the right thing.

Another key piece of information here is we tend to seek people out and hire them when know they can do the job that we need them to do (funny about that). If I have a role and know someone who will be awesome, amazing and bring great success – you know what – it’s a no brainer…..

The other thing we agreed on is that ‘us managers’ are people, not robots. Like everyone else we will, and are entitled to, connect with other people, and the ones we relate to the most are likely to share our common values, experiences, skills, etc (just like everybody else). It is inevitable, ‘normal’ and unfair to expect anything else.  Work place friendships happen at all levels and, as long as there is a transparent process for opportunity and reward, there shouldn’t be an issue.

Lastly, I have witnessed times where work mates have been ‘favoured’ based on personality or nepotism, where a person was given a role beyond their capabilities just because they had a Masters in ‘brown nosing’ and I agree this is not ok.  But it’s important not to mix the two up, they are not the same thing and should not be confused as such.

As you can there’s no secret recipe. If doing my job marvellously and being a shining light amongst the crowd makes me a favourite, then you know what – I’m proud of it. My only challenge is how to shine brighter and help others do the same.

I’m interested to hear your views and experiences with this. Is this something you have experienced too?



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