5 Steps to Take if Your Boss Plays Favorites at Work (and You're Not It)

You love your job. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and you look forward to going in every day. Once you’re there, you work as hard as you can. Unfortunately, no matter what you do, your manager never notices.

You’d like to be recognized, but instead, someone else—a co-worker whose work isn’t as good as yours—gets the boss’ favor. At first, you think it’s all in your head. But as time goes on, you wonder if there’s something to your theory.

Unfortunately, workplace favoritism is real. Many managers do have favorites. After all, we’re human. But it’s only a problem when they show that they have favorites.

Finding yourself in a position where you’re not in the boss’ favor can mean bad news for your career. What should you do if you find yourself in the unlucky position of bottom of the totem pole? Re-evaluate your strategy.

Here are five ways to do that:

1. Continue to Work Hard

Keep working, do your own thing, and keep improving yourself. Get regular feedback from your boss and don’t overreact. Just because your boss prefers someone else doesn’t mean he or she hates you.

Avoid becoming the least favorite by reacting negatively. I’ve always felt that getting attention—even constructive criticism—means that I’m in a better position than if my supervisor acted as if I didn’t exist.

2. Practice the Five P’s

  • Professional
  • Prompt
  • Punctual
  • Put in a plug for yourself (when you can)
  • Propose new ideas and volunteer to put plans in place

Soon, people will notice that you have something to contribute.

I’ll be honest with you: Nobody likes feeling as though someone is asking for a “gold star.” Don’t be overbearing.

3. Ask Your Boss for Feedback

Sit down with your manager and have a candid talk about where you’d like to be in a year’s time. Ask what you can do to improve and how you can get to where you want to be.

You might be surprised by his or her answers—and, potentially, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

4. Continue to Build Your Relationship

Continue to do your work the best you can. Don’t display any signs of anger or bitterness. Be consistent with your work.

When it comes to interacting with others, be professional. Don’t be a brown-noser or a pushover.

Find a point of connection with your boss: share values, goals, or personal interests. Don’t force a relationship or push it too fast—relationships are built over time.

5. If All Else Fails, Move On

If you just can’t get on the good side of your boss—and you feel that it’s affecting your career—you should start to consider leaving your post and finding employment elsewhere. At the end of the day, your overall happiness and well-being should be kept in mind.

Think long and hard before doing this, though. And consider consulting your office’s human resources department and asking for an exit interview if you depart the company.

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Photo of people talking courtesy of kupicoo/Getty Images.

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About Alyse Kalish

Alyse Kalish
As an Associate Editor for The SalesJobInfo, Alyse is proud to prove that yes, English majors can change the world. She calls many places home, including Illinois where she grew up and the small town of Hamilton where she attended Colgate University, but she was born to be a New Yorker. In addition to being an avid writer, Alyse loves to dance, both professionally and while waiting for the subway.

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