My boss has an obvious favorite at work, and it definitely impacts our team. Any tips for dealing with the negative aspects of the favoritism? Elaine Varelas advises.

When a manager has an obvious favorite in the workplace, this may adversely affect other team members. Elaine Varelas advises on both the advantages and disadvantages.

Q:  I’m on a team of nine employees at work and my boss definitely has a favorite.  This has had its benefits, but it’s also caused some resentment among my colleagues. How can I be a good teammate when there is obvious favoritism from our boss towards the favorite?

A:  No manager wants to feel like they have a favorite. However, they probably do have at least one   Let’s take a look at why.  Managers have favorites because these employees make their lives easier.  They are easy to manage, they are good contributors, they bring solutions to problems, and they are positive individuals which makes it easier to work with them.  Managers may also frequently pick on their favorite or disagree with them just to let everyone know that they are not the favorite.  They may do this to balance out any overly positive reaction that they give to that employee on a more regular basis and in public.

Rather than being a colleague who resents the favorite, learn from this person. Learn how you can develop your behaviors to make life easier for your manager.  Ensure that any resentment that you might have towards the manager isn’t directed at the individual employee, especially if that person isn’t taking advantage in any way of being the favorite.  An employee who has been identified as the favorite might be the employee that a team sends to ask for clarity on a project that is unclear but shouldn’t be (in the managers eyes or perhaps they are the person that the team appoints as the communicator for anything else they might want from the manager.  Try to focus on the positive aspects and benefits of having someone who is seen as a “favorite” of that manager.  Often this person can raise sensitive issues the team wants discussed without facing repercussions. 

Having the favored employee tell the manager that they would prefer not to be the favorite visibly, is a good start, and having the employee ensure that the manager’s behavior doesn’t display favoritism in terms of work assignments, raises, or anything else is what is most important in the situation. If there is inequity, then it’s important to have a conversation with the manager and it might be a good idea to involve Human Resources if the situation isn’t equitable.

Is it right to have favorites?  No.  Is it real? Yes, and figuring out how to learn from it and benefit from these kinds of situations is more important than complaining.


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