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The boss who play favorites

Boss Have you ever had a boss that blatantly has favorites, just like a school teacher with her pet students?

Most of us have, and it's not fun to be the one who doesn't have the "favorite" status. But do you think it's possible that some bosses really have no idea they have favorites or treat some workers differently than others?

I read something today that made think it was possible.

A boss wrote into the newspaper for advice. She said her staff gave her a terrible rating on favoritism. She said she feels she's consistent on applying policies and enforcing rules. However, she admits she's has a closer connection with some employers who share common interests. She wants to know what to do to make it better.

What would you tell her?

Being "in" with the boss can make a world of difference in your work and home life. It can be the key to getting some flexibility and pulling off work life balance.

The expert advice for this boss was interesting. Marie McIntyre told her:  "The first step is to objectively evaluate your interactions with employees, then make an effort to distribute your attention more equally. Managers should always be aware of the messages sent by their actions. While it's normal to enjoy the company of some people more than others, you must be careful not to make that preference obvious."

This whole issue of favoritism at work reminded me of a blog post by Penelope Trunk. It was about "fitting in." She writes: People do not lose jobs because they don't get the job done. People generally lose jobs because of poor cultural fit. If people think you fit on the team, they'll cut you slack even when you don't get the job done. In fact, the Harvard Business Review reports that people don't even care if you don't get the job done if they like you.

So, how do you get the boss to like you? And if she or he doesn't, how do you make her aware of her "appearance" of favoritism. 

My suggestion: Find out your boss's interests, dig deep to find out what you might have in common, and then, make conversation around those interests. You don't want to fake a sudden love of football but you might start watching a few games to make conversation. 

Even if the boss doesn't do it intentionally, being  "a favorite" usually means you're on the receiving end of more information and better assignments. For a boss, that can be dangerous because some staff might resent it. But if you're the guy left out, I think you have do something. That could mean making the boss aware of your perception.  This boss who wrote in for advice seems like she would be open to her employee's feedback.

Readers, have you ever worked for a boss that plays favorites? If so, did you do anything about it? If you are a boss, do you think its possible to change employee perception?