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Grant favors equitably

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Sometimes, team members need or want favors—to come in late, leave early, pass on an assignment, get a deadline extended, etc.

But how do you accommodate such requests without leaving other team members grumbling?

Here’s some advice for granting favors without playing favorites:

Show concern for results, not reasons. Don’t grant some kinds of requests and deny others. If you say “yes” to a worker who wants to leave early for her son’s soccer game, but then say “no” to another who wants to attend a concert, you’ll start to see resentment. To be safe, don’t even ask why an employee wants a favor. Instead, ask how you can best accommodate the request without affecting the whole team.

Spread your generosity around. Obviously, if you repeatedly grant one or two team members favors, you’re asking for trouble; other team members who don’t make such requests will feel penalized for working “by the book.” You can combat this by occasionally offering those other team members unsolicited favors; even if they don’t accept, they’ll realize that you care about fairness and the whole team, not just the squeaky wheels.

Make sure favors are special. If you simply say “yes” every time a team member asks for a favor, you may be sending the message that coming in on time, or making deadlines, or whatever, isn’t really that important.

Make sure the whole team realizes that favors are special requests. They are not granted lightly and not granted at all if they would keep work from getting done. Do this by re-emphasizing the importance of being on time, for example, whenever you’re asked to let someone come in late.

The bottom line: Pay close attention to your treatment of employees. They are keener to your sense of fairness than you probably think.

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