Showing Preferential Treatment

By | October 6, 2019

[October 6, 2019]  The U.S. military employs many civilians who act as institutional knowledge and possess a host of crucial skills our warriors need.  Sometimes, however, like in any large organization, there are some folks in the military business that do not to adapt to our core values.  One of my commanders told me about a senior civilian who was showing preferential treatment to several other civilians.

“To show partiality is not good – yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread.” – the Bible, Proverbs 28:21, New International Version

The senior civilian, it turns out, was part of an exclusive country club, and several civilian staff employees were also members.  Those who were part of the club were given special treatment in the way of monetary bonuses, faster pay rate increases, and awards.  Doing so was not based on performance (hard work, ethical behavior, reliability, etc.) but upon membership.

What I didn’t realize, when given the job to put an end to the improper preferential treatment, was that the organization had a long history of partiality.  In addition, military commanders in the past had turned a blind eye to preferential treatment.

Preferential treatment has serious negative consequences.  It hurts teamwork, work performance, competition, morale, and good communication flow.  Leaders should be aware that, according to several workplace studies, nearly half of all workplaces will experience significant preferential treatment.  Of course, this is not good news, and it remains incumbent upon leaders to take quick action to correct such behavior.

Military organizations with a culture of preferential treatment are particularly difficult to cure.  Unlike commercial activities that will lose customers and money if not corrected, the military has a steady funding stream.  Commander attention and intervention in military units is a duty and moral requirement.

When military officers set out to uncover and stop preferential treatment, they, themselves, can become a target of unscrupulous employees (who thoroughly understand the military rewards and punishment system).  Many of those officers have been improperly accused of favoritism, sexism, racism, etc. to throw them off mission.  Good leaders, however, will not stop.

Leaders who demonstrate the moral courage to end unfair treatment of their employees are needed now more than ever.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

16 thoughts on “Showing Preferential Treatment

  1. ZB22

    Yes, Gen. Satterfield, this is another one of your on-target articles that hits home. I would suspect that all of us have encountered “preferential treatment” at some point in our lives. Even at home this is always a point of contention. Thanks.

  2. Max Foster

    Plenty of examples so I won’t list any. What I will point out is that giving preferential treatment is not compatible with American values. See the 3-part series on American Core Values here in Gen. Satterfield’s blog.
    One thing we see is that some pref treat is legal and some illegal. If you do it based on race, then we call it racial discrimination and that is a clear violation of the law. But if a politician does it, well, we just call it doing business. Either way, however, it is unethical and should be stopped. If not illegal, then a bright light needs to be shinned on those who are guilty.

    1. Mikka Solarno

      Excellent argument. This is, unfortunately, why our media has failed. They no longer shine a light on corruption but actually encourage corruption by actively covering it up or just failing to report it when that suites their interests. No surprise that the media in the West is no longer trusted.

    2. Lady Hawk

      Low morale is one of the results that Gen. Satterfield pointed out. But there are many more negative affects. I think that any leader who engages in preferential treatment should be called out on it and have to explain publicly why giving preferential treatment was given.

  3. Dale Paul Fox

    Good article, thanks. We can surely apply this level of thinking to how the little guy can’t get ahead because leaders have taken it upon themselves to give extra to their buddies or to those that don’t deserve it.

  4. Crazy Dude

    Love the topic. Hits home in many ways. Some one once pointed out that politicians are corrupt as they come. I would like to say that most of this corruption is due to preferential treatment they give those in their political party or their relatives.

    1. Jerome Smith

      Right! The biggest scandal this decade is how US Vice Pres Joe Biden got lucrative deals for his son Hunter Biden. How corrupt can you get. This is, by the way, the same Hunter Biden that got a less than honorable discharge from the US Navy for doing illegal drugs. Both these men are sleaze bags

      1. Doug Smith

        You hit this comment out of the part, Jerome. And the Joe Biden had the gall to get his party to investigate US pres Trump for asking Ukraine to look into this illegal behavior. Now, it appears that the focus is on what Joe Biden did. What a dumbass.

        1. Forrest Gump

          ….. And nothing is going to be done about it because he was Pres Obama’s VP. The Democrats in the US are as corrupt as they come. No wonder that Pres Obama came out of being Pres for 8 years a millionaire. Where did he get all that money? He wasn’t stupid is as stupid does, he was just CORRUPT.

      2. Greg Heyman

        Just look at the Democrats in congress if you want to see real corruption. Preferential treatment is an understatement.

  5. Nick Lighthouse

    Good article this morning, Gen. Satterfield. Appropriate topic. Lately we’ve seen a spate of political preferential treatment. Just look at Sec of State Hillary Clinton’s hiding her emails on a private server. Did she get punished for it? Nope. Will she? Nope. Two standards and a classic example of pref treatment.

  6. Eric Coda

    I had this happen in my first job as a teenager. My boss who ran a small retail store would give the girls off early and the boys had to make up for their undone work. He did it because “they are pretty.” Any way, none of the two boys (including me) liked this and eventually quit.

    1. Gil Johnson

      I had the same thing happen to me several times and for the exact same reason.

      1. Fred Weber

        Yeah. Same here. My boss gave all his buddies extra salary raises and the rest of us got nothing but more work. I didn’t last long there and was happiest when I quit.

    2. Harry Donner

      You gotta’ watch out for those pretty girls.

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