One Of Our Staff Has The Boss’s Attention!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about boss’s favorite who loafs:

What do you do if an employee in your office is always in the in the bosses office visiting? This employee does the least in the office, yet she seems to be his favorite, which the other employees notice. We have a hard working team, with the exception of this one employee. The other staff members notice how little she does, but they don’t voice their complaints, because it might make their own working relationship with the boss uncomfortable. This employee has gone to great lengths to get noticed by the boss. She joined his church, choir, any committees he is on, and even became friends with his daughters. The strength behind this business is the other employees who genuinely care, and work hard for this company. Their efforts should be equally appreciated. This is a non-union business with only 6 employees. Any advice from you would be greatly appreciated.

Signed, Not The Favorite

Dear Not The Favorite:

This kind of situation can trigger concerns with the rest of the staff, just as you describe. Yes, it can cause rippling concerns – even impact overall morale and productivity. I will try to comment based on what you explained in your email – and you may not like part of my answer. However, I believe from your email that you want an objective response.You are very limited on what you can do to change this.

Firstly, it is a matter between the referenced employee and the boss. It really does not DIRECTLY involve the other employees. Perhaps indirectly. It appears the two of them are working (or visiting) in accordance with the boss’s expectations. The rest of you appear to be meeting expectations, too. However, is what they are doing obstructing the rest of you from performing your jobs? If so, you have reason to explain to the boss why you cannot do your job. Otherwise, behavior from others – or lack of behavior – that does not prevent you from working is not worth stirring the soup the wrong way. And yes, it could jeopardize relationships with each other and the boss. From your information, it sounds like the rest of you are a team and contribute significantly to the company’s success. For that, I commend you and encourage you to continue. The rest of you have no doubt established your reputation as important employees, and the boss certainly depends on you, whether he acknowledges it to you or not.

Please do not allow your boss’s and this other employee’s actions to overpower your own performance.Are you aware of this employee’s working relationship with the boss? Perhaps she is actually a direct support person, or an assistant to the boss. Perhaps she is fulfilling a legitimate role that others do not know about. Perhaps the boss has delegated specific responsibilities to her that require her to have more interface with him. I do not know this. If that is the case, your boss’s error here is failing to inform the rest of you about her role, your roles, and how they all interrelate. Effective delegation is made complete by being made public, to the rest of the staff. If it is not the case, it seems to me that this employee’s behavior is independent of the rest of the employees’ ability to perform.

Though you indicate she does not seem to carry her share of the load, you may not see or understand things as they really are. The personal relationship activities with the bosses family and church are outside of work and are not fair game, though your explanation helps me understand the bigger picture.It appears that all 6 of you are not a close team – maybe 4 or 5 of you are. There is a trust void here, I believe, which is characteristic of poor teamwork. Even if only 1 person can be the root of it. When 1 or 2 people don’t seem to be part of the team, their motives and actions are questioned by others. What people don’t know or understand they question. This may be the case at your company.

Does you boss get all of you together for a few minutes daily, weekly or as needed for staff meetings? Do all of you understand who is doing what, when, how, why, etc.? Do you have the opportunity to identify issues or contribute to problem-solving as a team? Do you discuss your jobs in relation to each others’ jobs? Would it help if all 6 of you worked more closely together? Is there a reason you could suggest that all of you work more collaboratively with each other, including this employee? These questions and others begin to explore the issues here. Perhaps the boss could facilitate changing the teamwork culture a bit. Whatever you do, if anything, please do not make yourselves vulnerable to being accused of not doing your job. That’s why the boss hired you, and it appears you are making a positive difference. Thanks for asking. Hope this helps you see this awkward situation a bit more objectively. It could possibly be resolved with the right communication. But the boss is ultimately responsible to enable teamwork.

Regards, Donald G. Gibson, Facilitator/Trainer, Guest Respondent The Workplace Doctors Think and act as if you were a Team–Teams have skull sessions on what has been going well and what might each do to make one another’s role more effective and satisfying. Pleas keep us posted on how you accept and/or cope with the way you feel.

William Gorden