When you're not the boss's favourite | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 26, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 26, 2018

When you're not the boss's favourite

You submit your papers on due time, sometimes even hours before the deadline. Your etiquettes are flawless. There's not one complaint against you. Yet your boss has a favourite go-to employee: your cube-mate, not you.

The above isn't an uncommon situation in workplaces, organisations, or even in regular classroom settings. Favouritism- perceived or otherwise- by bosses, managers, higher-ups, is real and all the more difficult to deal with when you're on the victim end of it. Besides brewing a climate of bitterness among colleagues, staffers, and friends, employees who feel they're working in such an inequitable environment soon experience resentment, low job satisfaction and low morale. This in turn may lead to their seeking jobs elsewhere or declining productivity.

If you are in this situation, you may find no easy way out of this loop in sight. But rather than let your nemeses whom you so badly want to outperform have their ways, it's worth a shot for you to navigate your way through this by trying some basics:

Reconsider and reassess

In the heat of the demanding moments, it's normal for you construe your boss's treatment of you or others as something it's not. To ensure you're not unnecessarily playing the victim, it's essential to analyse the situation and ask yourself again. Is the boss really being biased? Or are you being overshadowed because your performance is sub-par?

Search for the loopholes

Try to understand why your colleague is getting a pat on the back for that sales pitch whereas you're ending up with a “meh” look from the boss even after delivering almost the same content. Is the reason friendship or relationship or shared history with the boss? Or is it simply professional? Knowing the cause will help you not only feel less bad about yourself, but also to focus on the right things for developing yourself.

Better your work and skills

Where and how exactly can you improve your performance? Learn properly what your boss's expectations are. If possible, emulate what s/he does and maintain feedback regularity. Show that you're never compromising on your part and on the organisational requirements, no matter what sort of treatment you may be receiving.

In this respect, Farhan Ishmam Sikder, currently a part-timer at an established marketing agency says, “In the three places I've worked at till date, I have seen favouritism to come into the scenario from two angles. Firstly, it happens because your work is good. On the other hand, there are people who deliver sub-par work but become the boss's favourite by undertaking means that aren't all that transparent. But good news is, the second type never lasts very long. At the end of the day bosses will obviously have the welfare of the organisation in mind. That goal will only be met if the employees do their work well. Unless that happens, no matter how "favourite" one is, they will face consequences.”

Demonstrate professionalism and optimism

As it's not exactly the employee's fault that they're receiving special treatment, it's only fair that you don't take out your disappointment on them. Difficult though it might be, stay positive, patient and neutral. Portray your manicured self in front of your peers and bosses. Let it not show in your behaviour that you understand favouritism is taking place, as bosses won't like that.

Protest in a modest way

Yet, you may take a leaf out of the diplomacy book and confront your boss about your feelings or suspicions - given you two have that sort of a relationship. If you do that, maintain utmost modesty while talking to the boss. Don't make it sound like you're accusing him/her. Begin in a way that goes along the lines of, “You must have your reasons for preferring Ahmed for handling the project, but I believe I may be better because…”

The Benjamin Franklin effect

Human psychology studies reveal that if someone does you a favour, s/he is likely to feel more favourably towards you in later times. This is attributed to human brains' wanting to justify the actions one has performed, whereby it signals that they did the favour because they like you. Now, you know what to do. Go ask for and appropriate that easy-to-do favour from your boss.

Don't give up

Understand that you really cannot control the actions of your boss,but you definitely can control your reaction and impression in front of him/her. No one said that a boss can't have more than one favourite, so it will be foolish to give up halfway through this journey. If necessary, talk to a mentor or a friend about your troubles in this regard, to get an impartial suggestion.

Call upon Human Resources

It's in nobody's best interest to be the snitch in the organisation, but if you've tried everything else and nothing changes, then you can always reach out to the HR department to see what options are available. If there's blatant unprofessional behaviour at play in the office, keep track of related instances that bolster your case.

Before you discuss the situation with HR or the employee grievances department, think carefully and reconsider what's actually going on. See if it is possible to get candid feedback from your peers or people who aren't your competitors, then decide.


Eshanee is a junior at IBA, DU. She watches travel videos and saves whatever money she has left after eating junk food for travelling. Send her good vibes at eshanee333@gmail.com.

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