Jul 19, 2016

    Build a connection with a boss who has favourites

    IT IS not just children who might complain about preferential treatment by parents or teachers.

    Working adults encounter it in the workplace too.

    Chances are, you have seen or experienced some form of favouritism in the office.

    The boss' pet is likely to receive the plum assignmentsand gain access to confidential information and the latest news.

    Instead of feeling bitter, you can make yourself look good while dealing with the boss who plays favourites.

    Karen Blal, managing director of CIPD Asia, believes that it is human nature to have favourites and "should not be a problem" if those in authority do not show it.

    Reasons for favouritism include sharing the same outside interests, having common friends, or simply because the employee was someone they hired personally.

    Abhishek Mittal, senior consultant, talent management and organisation at Towers Watson, said the most common reason is "cultural matching". It means that managers end up preferring employees who are similar to themselves in terms of culture, mindset and values.

    While it is tempting to "gang up" against the particular employee, ask yourself objectively why your boss would favour that person.

    The reasons do not have to pertain strictly to work.

    Does the person know how to calm your boss when he is in a bad mood? Does the person take the initiative to connect with the boss?

    Does the person make your boss look good to others?

    While these considerations are not justifiable reasons for preferred treatment, they help in understanding the mindset of the manager.

    "Rather than focusing on the problem at hand, shift the focus to thinking about your own capabilities and analysing whether you are achieving your full potential at your present job," advised Deon Senturk, senior business consultant at Talent Plus.

    Simply crying foul about the seemingly unfair situation could make matters worse.

    Always behave professionally, even if your manager does not.

    But the worst possible approach is to do nothing about it, says Ms Senturk.

    If there is a project that interested you but went to the favoured staff, ask the manager what you can do to take on such assignments in the future.

    Seething silently would not help you secure the next project - your boss might not know you were keen on it.

    "Initiate a conversation with your employers to discuss your career investment and how you too can advance professionally by maximising your strengths," she said.

    Mr Mittal added that employees need to understand the behaviours, activities and outcomes that are valued by managers, and strive to deliver on them.

    Regular progress conversations also give employees a platform to build a relationship with their boss and gain some visibility at the same time.

    Said Ms Senturk: "Having that conversation, however difficult it may be, can be empowering and could ultimately lead to a solution."