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Management’s Minions: Combating Cronyism in the Workplace

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Management’s Minions: Combating Cronyism in the Workplace

Imagine this:  you are at your company’s holiday party.  Past and present employees are invited.  The CEO decides to do an award ceremony.  He honors various employees for their hard work.  You sit there, patiently, hoping you will be recognized soon, as most people seem to be given an award, and you were just told the other day by the CEO that you were doing a great job.


It’s towards the end of the ceremony.  The CEO says he has one last award:  he gives a round trip ticket around the world to your former boss who left the company 4 months ago.  And, by the way, he gave him a $5,000 bonus on his last week of employment for some “project” that he worked on.  You are left empty handed and with an undercooked steak for a meal…


Yes, crazy things like this go on in small business – it’s called cronyism, and it’s in abundance.


Good managers don’t allow this in their organization.  They have to be neutral and fair.  Yes, it’s natural that you become more affiliated with one person over another, but you are dealing with people’s emotions.


In 2011, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business conducted a survey in which senior business executives (92 percent) said they have seen favoritism at play in employee promotions, including at their own companies (84 percent).


“It’s impossible not to build friendships in an organization,” says Rachelle Bello, SPHR, of Tabula, based in Santa Clara, CA.  “The key is not to play favorites.  Being objective demands respect – and respect is key in any relationship.”


So how can individual contributors combat this?  In the workplace, the number one, most important thing is the business at hand.  You could quit and find a new job to make a statement.  You can escalate the matter to a trusted leader, who may be well equipped to handle the situation.  However, the best option, especially if you like your job overall, may just be to wait it out.


Author and activist Maya Angelou once said:  “It is only out of ignorance that people are cruel, because they really don’t think it will come back.”  In other words, don’t let managerial minions crawl under your skin; in the end, it’s just not worth it.


Jenny Hayes Rhoten has over 10 years of experience in staffing, training and technology management for various Silicon Valley companies.  She earned her BA in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma and will be graduating with her Masters in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco in 2013.



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