When you suspect your boss of favouring one of the members of the team, the place to start is with self-reflection. It’s important to be brutally honest with yourself and consider whether it is just a perception or reality.
Executive Business Coach, Pat Roberts, says human beings are programmed to look for reasons as to why things happen and we tend to settle on that which is outside of our control. Are you reading more into situations than is truly there?
“The next reflection should be around your own performance and quality of delivery. Are you performing at the same level as the person you believe is favoured? If they are delivering better, are more proactive or their work is of a higher quality, that could be the reason why they seem to be favoured. It’s always easier to work with top performers than with people whose delivery is not up to standard or is slow,” says Roberts.
How to tell if your boss is playing favourites
“This is very subjective,” says Roberts. “The signs will probably be different in each situation. The most obvious signs are if someone who is not performing effectively is getting pay increases, promotions or privileges, such as travel. Sometimes this sort of thing can result from an inappropriate personal relationship between the boss and favoured one.”
Human beings naturally get on with certain people better than others but leaders should be able to manage this in a way that doesn’t make it obvious which team members they are more comfortable with. If your boss is truly favouring someone in the team unfairly, the other members of the team will feel demotivated and resentful.
Steps to take:
Analyse your own performance
It’s crucial that you don’t slack off even if you feel resentful or unfairly treated. If you choose to stay in the team, always ensure that you contribute brilliantly, no matter what you suspect may be going on.
Avoid corridor gossip
Gossip never adds any value. What you say may be incorrectly reported to the favoured one or the boss and get you into trouble. Gossip also breeds resentment and cattiness, so it’s never a good idea to get caught up in petty office politics.
Have an honest discussion with your boss
Agree on a time to meet your boss to discuss your performance levels and ask what more you could be doing so that you qualify for the promotion, bonus or pay increase you are aiming for.
Keep the lines of communication open
Once you have this information, keep the boss informed at regular intervals on how you are performing against what was suggested.
Be respectful to your colleagues
Avoid ostracising the person whom you believe is the favourite. Treat that person as you do all other members of the team.
Make a decision
If nothing changes, be honest with yourself about your level of happiness within your team. If you decide to stay in your current role then you need to make a conscious choice to always deliver your best.
Alternatively, ask your boss to recommend you for a position elsewhere in the company or apply for jobs as they come up. The last resort would be to leave the company for another position. “You need to be sure, however, that the move will impact your long-term career goals positively and that you aren’t simply blowing the situation out of proportion,” concludes Roberts.