Most leaders I know are deliberate and thoughtful about ensuring that their employees feel like they are treated equivalently (after all, wanting to be treated fairly is a primal instinct). But there is one circumstance in which this good intention often goes amiss. I’m talking communicating information to the team. I’ll start by saying that this communication failure is usually never intentional.
There are some employees with whom you have more vocal or friendly relationships. I’m talking about the team members who pop in to your office to chat about their weekends, or those ask you about your kids at the coffee machine. And because you’re having more frequent conversations with these staff, you tend to talk about stuff. And some of this “stuff” has to do with new workplace initiatives, or recent discussions at the senior management table, or process changes being considered. Not surprisingly, these employees repeat this “stuff” to their co-workers, and suddenly, without you even realizing it, the rest of your team thinks you’re playing favourites when it comes to communicating information that’s important. Definitely not what you’d intended, or likely even thought about! But it’s something you need to be aware of.
Because you carry the title of supervisor, or manager, or team leader, what you may consider to be idle chatter with an employee around the water cooler carries much greater weight when it’s heard by those who get the information second-hand. The unspoken assumption is that “Because Mary heard the information first, she’s the boss’s favourite.” Right or wrong, that is the message you have inadvertently communicated. Worth thinking about this unintentional consequence, and definitely worth keeping at the back of your mind when you’re having that next random conversation at the photocopier with one of your staff.
Well, you know what I think, but what’s your perspective? Is this worth keeping at the back of your mind, or is it too much work because people should just be able to deal with it? Please share.