Bosses and favoritism at work

Miss X walks into office at 10:30 am while office starts at 9:30 am, but leaves dot at 5:30 pm or even earlier. No one says a word to her. Mr Y slogs till 11pm but no one seems to recognize his labor and he is penalized if he arrives after 9:45am that too rarely.

Y feels like cursing his luck, simply because he feels that he is discriminated against others. Many managers have their favorites. While some display their favoritism outside office, others do it within their office, department or team.

Sadly, Y’s manager may be playing favorites but totally unintentionally. Biased behavior is one of those practices that can completely destroy ones morale and lower the productivity of a team.

Office romance or attraction is probably one of the most recognized forms of favoritism. Managers’ fall for employees who are much below their level, and support them with benefits that belong to the company, and are not included in the package of the latter. This can be irritating for other team members.

The other instance involves the ubiquitous ‘old boys network’; these staff members are friends/acquaintances from previous organizations. The manager knows them at a personal level and is quick to dole out favors or plum projects to them. Some of them may not be good workers, and hence the disparity irks other team members.

Giving rewards or recognition to undeserving employees can also hint at favoritisms.

As an employee, nothing hurts more than being discriminated. Such a situation can be frustrating and stressful as in the case of ‘Y’. But what can one do when he see his boss unashamedly playing favorites?

There are two sides to the situation. Either the employee is out of manger’s good books or s/he favors someone else. Sometimes a few personnel can be discriminated against as an individual or as a group.

Though it’s tough to completely ignore the situation, one shouldn’t react in the heat of the moment. Think twice before saying or doing something which may prove regretful later.

Explain to the boss that you are hurt by his/her behavior. It could be that your boss holds a grudge, and is just trying to settle score with you. Supposing you manage to reconcile, consider yourself as lucky. If thinks don’t work out, think about moving elsewhere.

Analyze the situations: Boss may favor another colleague because s/he is a personal friend, or because s/he is attractive. Moreover, you will notice that people who become the ‘boss’ pet’ a certain level of expertise to do so. Assess the situation before saying something.

Always speak to the boss on this, and never put things in writing. Boss and his/her pet can distort your statements to put you in a tight spot. Don’t send e-mails to colleagues about this issue as some may report to the boss.

Boss may refuse your statements and argue that s/he is a fair manager or threaten you with dire consequences. Anticipate all the adverse effects and be prepared to face or challenge them.

It could very well be that ones manager’s actions are not deliberate, or that s/he doesn’t realize the impact of his/her actions on others. Keep an open mind before becoming judgmental.

Favoritism builds resentment and lowers productivity. Moreover, boss’s pet employee may also blackmail you for undue favors that are not your discretion. So, favoritism is best avoided.

In professional environment the companies have to work bosses (managers) are changing to a result oriented culture where they have to scoop out performance from each and every individual of his team. Favoritism may not help the boss all the times except it is that of a personal case with opposite sex.

  • colvirendra

    Bosses and fevoritism at work is there to stay at workplaces,if somebody wants to move up the corporate ladder he has to find a way to move around it and achieve the desired targets.Old boys club and personal friendships do help in short run . Relationship management is an art which has to be mastered and if required, sufficient time has to be allotted to this exercise on daily basis.Honestly speaking, if you can manage your Boss and your workplace half the battle is won.It can be a legitim ate effort which is bound to pay handsome devidents in long run.

  • kriti saigal

    Respected Sir,

    i am a MBA student and want to take human resource management as my specialization.

    The article that i read Bosses and Favouritism gave me a question. what if one of my subordinates complains about this to me and the faouritism is done by our super boss may be the CEO or Vice president.

    In such a situation how am i supposed to tacle the situation as on one side i have a duty as the hr manager to be performed and on the other hand i cannot straight away go and charge the higher authority for it?


    kriti saigal

  • nagaraju nvv

    The article is very nice

  • Prakash Baliga

    Dear All,

    Favoritism at work place is there and it will remain but in long run only results, achievement of targets matter. So my advice is that work with honesty and attain desired results in time and proove yourself. any boss who ever it may be he is interested in results and growth of organisation so instead of wasting time in thinking what favours others are getting utilize that time in giving your best to the organization, certainly you will be rewarded.



  • sometimes it is better to wait and watch for a longer period and then to comment at the right time

  • bhanu

    This happens in our organization also. But I think it is the way we assume things. Here, though they come late and leave in time they finish the work in time. Where as the guy who is very early and works late doesnot know to manage time and doesnot complete his task in time even after working late hours. So obviously manager will be in favour of them rather than the other person.It is the way we take things.