Career Strategies: My Boss Plays Favorites and I’m Not One

My boss plays favorites and I'm not the one.

If all bosses were competent, fair, with a minimum of leadership skills, work would be far more productive and fun for direct reports.  Alas, bosses come on a bell curve — a few outstanding and a few truly terrible — and a majority marginal.  Often people believe a boss is out to get them because there is a lack of fit.  For example, would you choose your boss as a personal friend?  If not, why not?  The answer is likely to be something after his/her style or the fact that there is no compatibility.  You can work for that boss indefinitely unless you see the boss’s preference for other people as a rejection of you.  It’s truly not personal unless you’re being bullied.  The fact that you and the boss will never be best friends isn’t a deal breaker.

In the Great Recession people have stayed with bad bosses — or merely indifferent ones — longer than they would have before 2007.   Even if you’re itching to move on, before you do, decide what makes you and the boss incompatible.  What don’t you like about his/her style?  Don’t leave this boss for one who’s worse.  It happens are the time.  “Out of the frying plan into the fire” is a cliche for a reason!  You’ll be in another uncomfortable or even threatening situation unless you analyze why you feel dissed rather than favored.

What does your boss do that has an impact on your performance?  (We’re not listening to any like/dislike reasons, only substantive ones.)  What are the characteristics of those he/she favors?  Are they more outgoing or less?  Do they share personality traits or preferences with the boss?  What do you do/have that makes the boss like you less?

One thing you can always do — while positioning yourself to move one is to change your image.  If you want to be seen differently you need to look different.  If you’re preppy, adopt a more casual style.  Change your hair.  Dress up rather than down.  Add color to your wardrobe.  Of course this is totally superficial!  The boss can’t see your insides, only the outside.  Change your speech patterns.  If you’re tentative become more decisive or the reverse.  See  how your boss and co-workers react.  Get a copy of  The Actor Prepares  and read it carefully.

Don’t sit around feeling you’re not appreciated or that others are more popular with the boss.  If  you do, it will affect your performance and could get you fired.  If you continue to stress over the relationship, or lack thereof, consider counseling to help you feel better about yourself and your job.  Don’t run out of the job but plan your campaign for a better job and boss based on what you’ve learned.

Contact Marilyn for Help With Career Strategies

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Filed under Boomers, Career Strategies, Millennials and GenX, Office Politics