To treat everyone the same is not necessarily treating everyone fairly.

One trap that is easy to fall into as a leader is appearing to have favorites. This can be one of the hardest things to balance and help your team members understand. They may think or ask, “Why does he/she always get the special projects/ a certain shift/ a perk of some kind?”

What is important is to be able to answer this question. “It might seem that he/she always gets the special projects, and I want you to know that they have shown me I can count on them to get it done, on time, without much direction. The last few projects you worked on, had some issues.”

Here are a few examples of what those issues might be:

• We had to stop and re-start because of a lack of clarity amongst the members of the project.
• You failed to communicate when the timeline was in jeopardy.
• We had a customer complaint that should have helped us identify an issue. It was not communicated and the issue continued.
• One project team experienced a lot of conflict that required some mediation.
• I need to see you lead the project with fewer issues and I will help you do this. When that occurs, I will give you the bigger, high profile projects that you want.

It is not favoritism when it is based on solid evaluations of performance. This can be hard to hear so plan your message ahead of time. Taking the time to think about why you choose a certain employee for a special project, and why you didn’t choose others, will help you prepare your message points.

Be clear and be kind in your messaging.

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