Favouritism is in fact a fairly common occurrence, not just at work, but in virtually any setting that involves human interactions. It’s human nature to favour certain individuals over others, but if left unchecked, blatant favouritism at work could lead to disgruntled employees and animosity towards those being favoured, besides loss of respect for the manager in question. The company also stands to lose skilled employees who might be feeling side-lined.
A survey by Georgetown University revealed that 92% of senior business executives have seen favouritism factor into employee promotions, with 84% of them having witnessed favouritism in their own companies. About 25% of the polled executives also admitted to practicing favouritism themselves.
If you’re wondering whether your boss is playing favourites, it might be good to determine first and foremost whether it’s simply a case of an employee being rewarded for his or her contributions, or whether it’s pure favouritism. Observe whether your boss treats everyone the same way, or whether he or she pays particular attention to a select individual in the team. It will be quite obvious if it’s the latter. If that’s the case, here are 5 strategies to help you cope with it.
However uncomfortable you feel about the situation, remember to maintain your professionalism. Don’t lose your cool. The worst possible thing you can do is to confront your boss while you’re in an emotional state of mind. You probably won’t work with that boss forever, but your professional reputation, once tarnished, will take considerable time and effort to salvage.
Advocate for Yourself
Take the initiative to demonstrate your skills and contributions to the team. Make sure you deliver quality work on time, propose new ideas and advocate for yourself by leading meetings and resolving team conflicts where possible. Focus not on the negative vibes caused by your boss’ favouritism, but on the constructive actions you can take to prove your worth.
Inform your boss of your career aspirations using clear and direct communication. For example, tell him that you intend to secure a promotion by the end of the year. Ask him for opportunities to take on more responsibilities to steer you in the right direction. If he doesn’t support your ambitions, at least you know where you stand, and can evaluate your options accordingly.
Be the Bigger Person
Don’t take out your frustrations on the colleague benefiting from your boss’ attentions. Take the high road. Avoid bad-mouthing your boss or colleagues; it just makes you look petty. If you feel side-lined on interesting projects or assignments, talk to your boss about why you should take them on rather than stew over it.
Do Your Research
If you feel that the situation is getting out of hand and you need to confront your boss or HR about it, first, do your research. Are you the only one feeling this way, or are your other colleagues feeling similarly disgruntled about your boss’s favouritism? Get candid feedback from your team members on why they think you’re being overlooked. Their perspectives might provide you with fresh insights into the situation so you can have a constructive discussion with your superior about it.
Favouritism in the workplace can be an unpleasant experience, but it doesn’t mean you should allow it to erode your self-esteem and confidence. Take it as an opportunity to push your boundaries further, to step up and take on more challenges. That said, if you’ve done your best and you’re still being side-lined, perhaps it’s time to explore different opportunities.
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