How should I deal with favouritism at the workplace?

A secretary hands over a register to her boss. 

Photo credit: SHUTTERSTOCK

What you need to know:

  •  Bosses prefer employees who always strive to achieve their objectives, thereby making the management look good.
  • A good leader should make an effort to see the contribution of each of his team members instead of making them feel neglected or belittled.

My boss has this habit of treating employees differently. He clearly has favourites in the office and this is really affecting my performance. I feel like I have been relegated to his bad books, because he treats me unfairly and never includes me in important team projects.  I am beginning to worry that I will someday get punished, or dismissed from work unjustifiably. How do I raise this issue without putting my job at risk?

 Human beings sometimes pick favourites unconsciously. For example, teachers often like some students more than others. Even within families, some parents tend to treat one or some of their children better than others.

People tend to associate with those who have similar interests and goals, or complimenting personalities. Bosses prefer employees who always strive to achieve their objectives, thereby making the management look good. Therefore, step back and check whether you are helping your boss achieve his objectives by playing your role.

How would you like to be treated by your boss? Identify exactly what makes you feel sidelined and address it. Learn to understand your boss’s working style and avoid comparing him with other bosses because if you do, you will only get more frustrated. Have you taken time to find out why your boss prefers other employees and not you. What are you doing differently?

That said, bosses are expected to be impartial at the workplace and to embrace all individuals in their team irrespective of their different personalities or ability to deliver.

A good leader should make an effort to see the contribution of each of his team members instead of making them feel neglected or belittled.

Find out what you can change to make things better. Focus only on the things that are within your control, otherwise you will spend a lot of energy agonising, leaving you with little enthusiasm for work.

If your boss is approachable, politely tell him that you don’t feel like you are part of the team. Avoid being confrontational. Ask him to let you know what you can do to join the team, and then listen to his response as you keenly observe his nonverbal cues.

Alternatively, you can choose to ignore this whole matter and focus only on delivering on your roles and objectives.

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