Cronyism is a common reason employees begin to feel a sense of unfairness and disgruntlement in the workplace. You'll know that cronyism is at work when you learn that the new office manager who can't get anything right is the boss's sister-in-law. In practice, cronyism is defined as hiring someone based on acquaintance, friendship or family association rather than qualification. In addition to upsetting truly qualified employees, hiring people for the wrong reasons hurts the company's bottom line.
Hiring your buddies or family members to work for you might sound like a great idea until you begin to show favoritism when it comes time to fill positions. Given that you spend a lot of time outside the workplace with crony employees, you might feel compelled to advance them faster than others, keeping them happy at family events or bowling nights in the process. Other employees will soon notice this, wondering why their seniority and skills didn't make the cut or, more caustically, why only your friends were considered for the spot. And then, there's a very real risk of placing unqualified people in important jobs.
Entitlement and Sloth
Employees who feel that they can't be fired due to their relationship with you might not perform well. Or they might feel that they deserve more based upon the reasons behind their hiring. This may include higher pay, more vacation time or an abnormally flexible schedule. These people generally appear unmotivated to earn their benefits and income, yet mysteriously have more of both than others. The bigger problem is that unmotivated employees are less productive, hurting your business and disappointing clients. This, in turn, unmotivates everyone else -- a frustrating snowball effect.
Following the Rules
Company policies mean nothing if everyone doesn't follow them. Not showing up for training sessions and meetings, turning in sloppy work or providing lax customer service are all signs these people don't think the rules apply to them. Other employees notice those excessively long lunch breaks, skipping out early and arriving a few hours after everyone else. The larger issue is that general disrespect toward company rules and policies begins to boil under the surface. Before you know it, you've lost control of everyone.
A complex issue for you as a manager is when your boss decides that her friend or family member is going to work "with" you. This person knows that her boss is really your boss, not you. In practice, your boss is forcing you to take on someone you would not normally take. At best, this person will be perceived as an outsider by other employees, causing unease. In addition to a general lack of concern for the rules, these cronies also may undermine your authority, causing you to lose control of your people. Finally, it's hard for you to trust these people because you see them as the eyes and ears of an unfamiliar authority.
David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.