A question asked on Quora is, “Why do Chinese firm’s bosses show favoritism in the workplace?” As expected, the answer spells out that favoritism is hardly unique to bosses in China. Workplace favoritism has always existed and it probably always will. In many workplaces, bosses choose favorites based on unconscious or conscious biases.
Many of us have been in a situation where we’re underrecognized and someone else is receiving all the attention. If we accuse a boss of favoritism, we tend to look petty and may simply be identified as hoping for similar preferential treatment.
Ironically, being the boss’s pet has its challenges too. A bad relationship between a boss and an employee can obviously have devastating results but the implications of being a boss’s favorite may not be as clear. It’s great when you’re receiving recognition and attention but there’s generally also a price to pay.
What makes you a favorite?
You know that your boss has the power to advance your career and making him happy is part of your job. Working hard, being reliable and smashing your targets can attract attention from your boss.
Participating in the company culture, making suggestions, and being helpful at all times suggests to your boss that you’re willing to go the extra mile. If you’re always willing to work overtime and are enthusiastic and energetic every day, it is easy for your boss to appreciate you and rely on you.
Continually updating your boss and keeping him in the loop as well as being loyal and disciplined, will put you in his good books. However, being over-friendly with your boss can result in favoritism or at least create an impression that it exists.
Leaders must pick out talented employees
A great boss will look out for those who show talent so they can mentor them and give them opportunities. Having a mentor to help you in your career is an excellent opportunity.
To avoid accusations of favoritism, bosses may choose to favor only those whose qualifications and skills are obvious to all. A second way to avoid the accusations is to draw attention to those with skills and abilities different to their own. The third way is the clearest and yet the hardest to maintain – open communication about issues such as apparent favoritism.
Favoritism based on personal preferences
However, bosses can be fickle and they may not have the professionalism to put their own preferences aside. At its worst, this can result in even incompetent employees being favored. Unfortunately, drawing attention to preferential treatment of an alleged favorite is an attack on the judgment of a powerful person within the company.
The negative aspects of being your boss’s pet
While being the boss’s favorite may seem like a good thing, not everyone will be as thrilled as you when you start receiving special treatment. If you discover that you’ve become the apple of your boss’s eye, you may find your colleagues reacting in ways you don’t expect.
Your teammates start to resent you
When your boss shows his special relationship with you, it’s inevitable that your teammates may start resenting you. They may stop trusting you and see you as an informer. You may lose out on their support, such as sharing resources, connections and information.
Your objectivity is affected
Another issue is that your close relationship with your boss may affect your objectivity and your ability to think independently. It will be more difficult to challenge him about decisions or thinking you feel is wrong.
Your boss may find a new pet
Superiors who make it obvious that they have a pet will usually switch easily to a new pet when it suits their own devices. The new pet now experiences all the benefits and the burdens and you’re left on the sidelines.
You can go down with your boss
You may think that being a favorite will enhance your career goals but in fact, it can jeopardize them. If you’re too closely linked with your boss, you may not be evaluated on your own merits. You may simply be thought of as a stooge and if your boss’s influence starts waning, yours may diminish too.
How you can protect yourself
You may think you’re amazing and your boss may agree with you but strutting around the office and being a know-it-all will hardly endear your colleagues towards you. A little bit of modesty can go a long way towards making sure your colleagues don’t turn against you.
Convince others you’re a team player
You may need to work extra hard to convince others of your role as a team player. You can’t afford to be a conduit of confidential information about your team to your boss or vice versa. You don’t want to look like your boss’s errand boy either.
If you let all the attention go to your head, it’s easy to begin coasting along and taking advantage. If your hard work is slipping because you’re a favorite, your team is likely to notice. If you keep working just as hard or even harder, it will help to generate goodwill.
Ask your boss if you can officially get other team members to work on a project you’ve been allocated. If you always draw other team members in, it demonstrates that you’re basically saying ‘no’ to favoritism. You should always share the limelight with others who’ve contributed to a project.
Keep your objectivity
Don’t allow your relationship with your boss to prevent you from interacting with other executives in a company and gaining their insights and perspectives. If you only ever see things through your boss’s eyes, your insight will be limited and if you just keep parroting his views, people will never hear your opinions.
There are ways to challenge your boss without losing his respect. Your boss may end up appreciating the fact that you challenge him, even though it may be difficult for you to do it or for him to accept it at first.
Think about your career
It can be a risk to be too close to a boss. If you’re seen as your boss’s private possession, you may be passed over for developmental opportunities available to others. Senior leaders should feel that you’re open to be a part of their projects and if your boss has a tight leash on you, they won’t feel that way.
One of the worst things you can do when you’re a boss’s pet is to lean on the title. When you look at the situation closely, being on the receiving end of special treatment hardly gives you a free ride – in fact, you’re likely to have to work harder and take on more responsibility.
What if you’re the one who is being neglected?
Analyze your performance
If you feel your hard work is being overlooked due to favoritism, you must objectively evaluate your performance. It is possible a colleague is being valued for excellent performance. If this is the case, you need to focus on improving your own performance.
If you continue to feel that the person isn’t the boss’s pet because of work, you could try to address the fact that you feel you’re being treated unfairly but it must be done in the right way and at the right time or it could backfire on you.
Keep emotion out of it
You can’t afford your vision and goals to be clouded by negative emotion. Your best option is probably just to act normally and as though your boss isn’t playing favorites. Once your emotions become involved, you could hurt your career prospects. If you become distracted because you feel neglected, it will only hold you back.
You need to understand the role you play on the team and continue to be professional and prompt in delivering projects. Try to avoid gossiping with team members about the favoritism as this can decrease morale. Constructive conversations and trying to find solutions is better than mindless venting.
Communicate your career goals clearly
Make sure your boss knows your career goals by clearly communicating them to him or her. Clarify what your boss expects from you, do your best to deliver and accept constructive feedback.
The bottom line
Favoritism in the workplace can be demoralizing. Positivity and productivity in the workplace are affected when personal biases come in the way of fair treatment. It is not only those who feel they are being neglected that suffer but the boss’s pet too. If you desire to become the boss’s pet, think twice about whether this is a label you want. The temporary benefits of being the pet are often outweighed by the burdens that come along with the position.
Thanks to Jacob D. for providing the content for this article.
Jacob Dillon is a writer at a top-rated essay service, bestessays.com.au where he’s one of the best essay writers. He provides work in area of dissertations, thesis and college essays. He helps you in case you want to want very specific and highly customized work and as a student, you will love his formatting, creating correct citations and the overall writing process. Feel free to contact him via Facebook or check his Twitter.