Feel as though your boss looks through you when you offer ideas, concentrating instead on another colleague’s suggestions? Can’t get a word in during coffee break conversations between the boss and this colleague? Does this employee get plum assignments, while opportunities seem to pass you over? If you answered ‘yes’, chances are that the boss has a favorite and you’re wondering how to deal with it.
It’s not unusual. Researchers at McDonough School of Business found that 92% of senior executives have seen favoritism in employee promotions. In a study by Approved Index, 34.64% cited favoritism as the reason for quitting a new job. And not without cause, for it can bring resentment among peers, demotivate the unfavored employees, and cause workplace intrigue.
Statistics aside, quitting is not the only solution. These measures should help you make the best of such a situation while staying focused on your career.
Play to your strengths
No matter how upset you might be about workplace favoritism, it’s important to stay realistic about your abilities. The question “What do you bring to the table that others don’t?” might seem clichéd, but it can help you understand your strengths. You can then leverage your skills instead of vying for the same opportunities that the boss’s favorite is pursuing.
For example, you might realize that you are a whiz in developing young recruits, while Favorite Fabio is good at project management. While your boss may still offer all the project management roles to Fabio, you can apply for team management roles.
Stay visible, stay connected
Workplace favoritism may make you feel like retreating into your shell, but now’s when you need to be visible and communicative. Have regular conversations with the boss’s favorite to show that your bear them no ill-will. Be supportive of others in the office; they will value your encouragement, especially if the boss has been overlooking their efforts. Find a mentor outside of your immediate team, who will support you in achieving your career goals.
Reach out to your boss
Keep the communication lines open. Ask for feedback on your tasks or for assistance with goal-setting. You can also address the issue of favoritism in a mature manner. Career-transition management expert Billie Sucher suggests focusing the conversation on how you can improve your performance. Workplace expert Alexandra Levit suggests discussing your short- and long-term goals with your boss, and laying out plans that you both can commit to, for achieving them.
While your boss plays a key role in your everyday work, remember there’s a lot more that impacts your success than just their approval. Your colleagues, other seniors, office processes, and the work you do, all play a huge role in shaping your professional well-being. Harness them to drive your career forward and good luck with it.