Career Advice

Your Boss Keeps Playing Favorites. Now What?

In any given office environment, it’s natural for a manager to gravitate toward certain employees over others. For example, if you have a colleague with an impressive tenure and proven track record of success, you may come to find that that coworker gets picked to head up high-profile projects more frequently than you do.

Still, there comes a point when you can only endure so much favoritism on your boss’ part — especially if you’re clearly not the preferred employee of the lot. Here’s what to do if your manager keeps playing favorites and you’re tired of being the odd worker out.

1. Don’t Hold It Against Your Colleagues

When you’re dealing with a scenario in which your boss favors a handful of employees, it’s easy to hold that against them. Don’t. Remember, your manager is responsible for his or her own actions, and it’s on your boss to create a working environment where everyone is treated fairly. If that’s not happening, don’t take it out on your coworkers who happen to have fallen into favor with your boss. Instead, work on getting your manager to change his or her tune, and build relationships with those favored colleagues so you can learn from them.

2. Get In Front of Your Boss More Often

Sometimes, managers tend to favor the employees they feel they know the best, so if you’re looking to get a piece of that action, it might help to interact with your boss on a more frequent basis. If you tend to go long stretches without communicating, being more proactive in updating your manager on your various assignments could go a long way. The same holds true when it comes to presenting new ideas or simply reaching out and offering up your assistance. If your boss sees that you’re making an effort to establish a stronger relationship, he or she might come to trust you more and send the next big project management opportunity your way.

3. Focus on Improving Your Performance

If your boss favors certain employees over others, it could be because they’ve been successful in the past and your manager remembers. Therefore, if you want your boss to add you to that inner circle, a good way to do so is to boost your skills and increase your output so that he or she recognizes how valuable you are.

4. Ask Your Boss to Define His or Her Expectations and Goals

The one thing you can’t be expected to do as an employee is read your boss’ mind and find out what he or she values the most. So rather than guess in that arena, sit down with your manager and ask the question point-blank. Explain that your goal is to be the most valuable employee possible, and that you’re looking for guidance on where your boss’ priorities lie. Once you’re able to start better catering to your manager’s needs, you may come to find that you’re called upon more often to do those key assignments that are generally reserved for a select few on your team.

Having a boss who favors other colleagues is no fun, but if that’s a tendency your manager has, then your best bet may be to get on that coveted list. Of course, in an ideal world, your manager would treat everyone more fairly across the board, but if favoritism is a practice he or she likes to uphold, you might as well do what you can to be on the receiving end.

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This article was originally published on The Motley Fool. It is reprinted with permission.

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