“Boss’s favourite”, one of the “top-peeves” that employees have |by:Rashmi Singh | People Matters

It is natural for a boss to have a favourite employee. But, is it always fair ?? 

It didn’t take Manisha Shukla, Assistant Brand Manager in a media organization, much time to realize that her boss showered favours on a special team member. That didn’t matter until she started realizing that this colleague could loiter around in office without a single complaint from the boss, could come late to work, could choose his own deadlines while others would get snubbed for slightest of mistakes. She says, “Having a favourite isn’t a problem. The problem arises when people start thinking that they are being sidelined and not given fair treatment. ”

Employees do not bother it much if all the employees get equal treatment. In an article, writer Marjo Johne quotes Gayle Hadfield, principal at Hadfiel HR Consulting in Vancuover as saying, “Favouritism in the workplace happens because we are human beings. Some managers may not even realise they’re doing it.”

Beneficiary of ” Favouritism” isn’t always at advantage : 

Yes, it affects a boss’s performance too: 

Employees like to be in companies which give them fair treatment and growth opportunity. When a colleague gets preferential treatment other employees feel rejected and start nursing complaints against their supervisor.These complaints convert into a feeling of resentment toward the boss and the beneficiary, more so, when the favoured employee is a very average performer. If it persists for a long time it becomes a threat to a team’s unity. An article on Forbes quotes Ryan Kahn, a career coach, the star of MTV‘s Hired! and author of Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad, “By not treating everyone equally, a manager is fostering a sense of resentment and separation that can de-motivate employees and damage team unity.” Moreover, favouring one person for reasons other than work leads to ignoring potential of other team members. In the longer run, this might have negative effect on a team’s performance, employee engagement, and trust on the fairness of performance reviews, the metrics against which a team leader’s performance is measured.

Employees don’t take favouritism well when they are treated inferior to someone for reasons other than performance. One fact is that the employee who has the boss’s grace might be alienated in the long run. More so, if a superior performer gets ignored and the ‘pet’ gets all the cream projects and accolades from the boss. So, bosses who believe undue favours make things easy for their favourite employee might end up putting him in a tight spot where he is envied by other team members. Teams grow un-supportive of such members and also lose trust in their team leader.

How to handle it !! : 

This is one tricky part. One universal fact is that nothing can stop bosses from developing fondness towards one of the employees. The reason is simple: More attachment to something or someone comes as a part of being a human being.

However, the reason of this fondness and the way it is expressed makes all the difference – 

1. In case you like one particular employee for reasons other than his performance, keep it out of office premises. 

2. All the work related discussions and decisions about responsibility sharing should be done in presence of every team member. 

3. Listen to every member during meetings. Do not try to support an incorrect statement of your favourite employee. The discussions should be fair. 

4. Do not share confidential information with your favourite team member. Favoured employees have a tendency to show the ‘boss’s favourite’ tag. Despite your trust on the employee, it might get leaked and spoil your reputation. 

5. Do not shower praises on your favourite employee. Your praises should be reserved for the most deserving person. 

6. Talk to every team member and ensure that no one feels alienated. There should be one rule for all. 

7. Do not let your favoured employees assume an air of superiority. Neither should they be used to convey your messages to someone in the team unless they hold that position in hierarchy. 

8. Be fair during performance reviews. 



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