Seeking your expert advice on handling favouritism at work. How HR can ensure fair treatment to all when every key decision makers (6 Directors) have their own favourites. They are ready to deviate any policy for their favourite employee without much bothering about its impact on the organizationís culture, examples we are setting as an organization, lessons people are picking from such deviations. Itís a small organization of approx.550 employees, where we canít afford the long term impacts of such deviations.And our Directors don't appreciate if same favouritism is displayed by the GM/Managers-HOD.
Our Directors wants us to sit in the annual appraisal of all employees because they want nobody should play favourites & nobody should underestimate those who performed well only because he donít have good relationship with his reporting seniors. In short we donít trust the assessment of our HODs(HODs has also provided valid reasons for this). And HR being a neutral person is suppose to keep this favouritism out from the system. Sitting in all appraisal is too time consuming & it results into delay of approx 5 months in increment letter distribution . we have 2 HR for annual Appraisals. What should we do to ensure as an organization we should be fair with our people & donít set wrong examples at the same time give increment letters on time.

From India, Nagpur

Personal bias that too of the powers that be, is the bane of every appraisal process and is a living reality to be reckoned with. It is more so in the traditional system. To overcome this problem there has to be goal setting (KRAs) with KPIs set at the beginning of the year, periodical appraisal and year end appraisals made against the targets set. Much care has to be set for selecting KRAs and in deed it has to devolve from the growth plan of the unit for the year linked with the strategic plan or corporate plan. After all this exercise the possibility of personal bias creeping in is still not totally ruled out but it will be considerably reduced. As the saying goes, it is the people who matter decide the veracity of the system and no system can ensure integrity of the people involved.
From India, Mumbai
Dear Mr.KK,
Thanks for your fast response.We have system of KRA & quaterly Performance Enabling Discussion with our people but here also HODs are not very cooperative in setting challenging goals or having a quaterly review meetings ,their KRA are very mediocre & I am trying hard to make people understand how it is going to help them. HODs have passive response for this KRA but I am very happy that Top Management is strongly committed to it(except few).We have taken various session on why KRA is important how it can be set etc.but responses are not very good from HODs. The operative level staff is also very cooperative but the middle management(Managers & HODs) are not very happy with this system. HODs are not happy with this but they don't express this in front of management.
With Regards

From India, Nagpur

The individual level KRAs have to flow from the growth profile of the unit reflected in the Balanced Score Card (BSC) of the unit. The BSC has an integrated approach and includes all the functional areas and set parameters for growth. In fact it is a top down approach and sets targets in each functional area, the unit plan is broken down to departmental level plans and sub-divided into individual plans. So the summation of individual plans is the unit plan and so the same has to be well coordinated effort. It is generally seen that a few in middle management will not be enthusiastic and they may in deed try to torpedo the system. But you have to endure such initial pangs and try to evolve an organisational culture of BSC/KRAs.
From India, Mumbai
Dear Aakansha,
There are two paragraphs in your post. First paragraph deals with the favouritism by the directors whereas they don't want favouritism by the HODs.
The second paragraph is about process of Performance Appraisal (PA). The existing procedure is time-consuming and creates inordinate delay in issuing the letters to the employees.
As far as problem mentioned in the first paragraph is concerned, nothing much can be done. When fence eats the crop, nothing much can be done.
The second problem mentioned in the second paragraph is due to the improper policy on PA. If revised, there is possibility to cut down the delay. Nevertheless, the solution cannot be given outright. Therefore, you may call me on my mobile number +91-9900155394.
Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear Akansha,
In the given situation of contradictory behaviour displayed by your Directors of showing favoritism to some and not expecting the same from HODs coupled with lukeworm response to setting KRAs/KPIs as well as lengthy Appraisal process are your challenges. And there is no easy answer unless you bite the bullet. To break the vicious circle, time has come to put your foot down and tell the Directors the vitiating impact their not 'walking the talk' behaviour is creating on the minds of everybody .People hate hypocrisy and some day it will hit the organisation badly. I am aware that it is not easy to convey such unpleasant thoughts to Directors. But then choice is to let the rut continue or hold it by horns.
As regards the apparent disinterest shown by HODs for KRAs/KPIs, please examine whether it's linkage to monetary reward is the contributing factor which is making them loose faith in and also no KRAs are given them.
Vinayak Nagarkar

From India, Mumbai
Dear Aakansha,
Your explanation says that your directors have their 'own favourites' and those are to be looked fairly though not look good. How do you consider there can be a fair show? Already Mr KK & Mr Divakar have given some suggestions for a flawless Performance Appraisal to judge 'good as good' and 'bad as bad'.
As you have the scores of employee with you, put scores in order and placed before the chairman of the commitee to seek suggestion.

From India, Mumbai
Dear Akansha,
Being worked in different industries and different countries, i feel this is a common problem faced by HR across many organizations. As answered by other eminent members, when Directors change policies for their favorites what you can actually do. What is more important for you at this moment is to reduce the delay in conducting appraisals, keep working with HOD's and Business Heads and take them into confidence. Once you have their concurrence, you will be able to make the required changes. Ensure all the employee KRA's linked to the business targets, this will help you to align the thought process towards achieving business targets.
Dolphy Goveas

From India, Madras
Dear Akansha,
You have shared plenty of details. According to me there is not much of a choice.
You may try to convince the directors, provided they are willing to listen. Try to talk to them on a ONE to ONE basis. Most probably they may say that they know everything. Some may not be even willing to talk.
If they stick to their decisions, you have to flow with the tide.
If your consciousness does not permit, you have to find out another job. But then such practices may be in the other companies also.
Best is to bide your time and go with the top management hoping for good things to happen.

From India

"How HR can ensure fair treatment to all when every key decision makers (6 Directors) have their own favourites."
Tactful handling of the situation is the only way.
Directors are the top bosses and if they have favourites and do not want others to have favourites,it becomes a herculean task for HR.
HR is a neutral agency and should try to be as professional as possible.
But your hands are tied.Performance reports come from HOD and your role is limited too that extent.
""nobody should underestimate those who performed well only because he donít have good relationship with his reporting seniors. ""
Directors have favourites and so they suspect any otherperson who is liked by HOD are their favourites.Complex situation which can only be handled by HR in neutral manner.Neither support any candidate nor oppose.speak only as per performance reports over the years.
Hr should speak out that with 2 people it is difficult to sit during performance appraisals and
create delays.
The Directors are showing immaturity in their actions and unfortunately HR cannot correct them.
If the atmosphere is so stifling, you can look for alternative jobs in some other organisation.
But favouritism is a trait of many of us.Apparently a national character.
Be practical and diplomatic i such situations and do not voice any opinion unless backed by evidence of performance or non performance of any employee who may be a favourrite of powers that rule.

From India, Pune

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