Remember the kid in school that you used to call a teacher’s pet because your teacher just seemed to like him better. The one that was always complimented for his good behaviour, the one that was appointed class chairman and the one who was deemed as the role model for the rest of your peers. You tried your best to get in your teacher’s good book. You were always early for class, did all your homework, volunteered to help out with class duties and scored perfect scores on all your tests. But still, to your disappointment, your teacher still prefers your classmate over you. He continues to get the praises, the opportunities and the attention. Fast forward to the present, you are done with school but you find yourself caught in the same situation at the workplace - only this time, the stakes are much higher.
WHAT IS FAVOURITISM? IS YOUR BOSS FAVOURING YOUR COLLEAGUE AT WORK?
Dinara Safina, Associate Professor at the Kazan Federal University, defines favouritism as a situation where a person in power such as the boss of an organisation or a manager, advances the career of a favourite, irrespective of their experience, knowledge, services and advances. Simply put, if your colleague is given an opportunity or benefit or is given a chance to get away with something for reasons not tied to his experience or ability, your boss or manager could be guilty of showing favouritism.
Favouritism is a difficult and almost an impossible problem to eliminate because it is rooted in human nature. It stems from inherent human qualities like intention to avoid uncertainties and a need to care for the nearest and dearest, say a close relative. According to Safina, when a boss displays blatant favouritism, an employee could feel demotivated, experience a loss of self-belief and abilities and a feeling of needlessness in an organisation.
That being said, don’t mistake performance recognition for favouritism. You can’t accuse your boss for playing favourites if the “favourite” has been putting in long hours and going above and beyond to earn that chance for a career advancement.
MY BOSS IS PLAYING FAVOURITES – WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Before you post that passive aggressive rant on social media, which we don’t ever recommend doing, know that there are other ways to improve your working relationship.
Author of “Finding Strength Within”, Edel Jarboe, suggests maintaining a positive attitude instead of dwelling on how unfair the structure of the organisation is. For example, she recommends coming up with a back-up plan to start job hunting, say after six months as it will not only add to your resume but also hone your coping skills and your ability to rise above any situation.
DRAW ATTENTION TO YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
You don’t want to let modesty get in the way of your career advancement. According to Karen Dillon, author of “HBR Guide to Office Politics”, most people are uncomfortable with highlighting their accomplishments. Instead, they would say things like, “the team did it” instead of “I led the team doing this”. By doing so, you might be sabotaging your chances of getting ahead in your career. Your busy boss might be too focused on his own work and challenges that he forgets all of the good work that you do. Don’t just let your work speak for itself, if you want to be on top of your boss’s mind, you have to boost your visibility.
TALK TO SOMEONE
Talking to someone in the human resources department or a manager you trust can be helpful, says Professor Gary Cooper and Dr Howard Khan in “50 Things You Can Do Today to Manage Stress at Work”. Be specific about your concerns and provide information about instances of favouritism.
DO YOUR BEST
If you do decide to raise your concerns, make sure you are doing your best so the favouritism you claim is not perceived as the other colleague just doing better than you.