Blatant Favoritism


I work part time in retail. I did a lot to distinguish myself and was primarily responsible for a 13% increase in departmental sales in the last qtr. New girl, Barbie doll comes in and mgmt. (all men) has told the rest of the dept. we must support her.

We have been told we have to give her our sales so she can get enough to win a spa weekend, and the financial incentive program is now open only to her. She shows up late, takes 30-45 minutes more for lunch and breaks than she’s supposed to; talks on her cell phone on the sales floor and often leaves early.

We brought the subject up at dept. meeting and nothing has been done. Management says we’re not team players if we don’t help her. Morale is in the toilet, but we all need the supplemental income. What can we do?


Frustrated About Barbie


Dear Frustrated About Barbie:

Usually when something sounds so blatantly unfair, there is something more to the story! You don’t mention why you think a new person, Barbie or not, would be given such drastic privileges. I can understand the breaks and so forth, but not the other situations, such as no one else being allowed to get financial incentives.

If the rest of you were formerly able to get financial incentives and now you can’t, and if you could win the spa weekend, but now you can’t, it seems to me things are so bad you would not want to stay in such a place. But, it also seems to me that bringing it up at a department meeting must not have been done very forcefully. If all of you go into the managers and state your case and the unfairness of it, at least you might get answers about why things are being done so apparently wrongly. Or, perhaps there is a level higher than your immediate managers. If your company has an HR department, maybe you could ask about the financial incentive program. That sounds like a benefit that could not be taken away.

As for the rest of the situation, have you communicated anything with her? For example, when she’s talking on the cell phone, rather than standing to the side noticing it, consider asking her to help you do something that needs to be done. Or, work around her so she notices there is work to be done. Or, lodge a formal complaint in writing and ask that it be investigated.

The bottom line is that all of you will have to either be more forceful or tolerate the way things are. You can’t make your coworker work more, but you can let your feelings about the situation be known.

As I said, as awful as this scenario sounds, I can’t help but wonder if there is a perspective you do not know or one that you are overlooking. See if you can find it. Or, if you have always liked the managers, see if you can figure out how they could have changed so much. Surely you can talk to one of them well enough to get a clear picture.

If you can’t find out a way to make a change, you may have to decide to either tolerate the current situation and hope it improves or move on and hope having good employees leave finally gets the message across. I’m sorry you’re dealing with such an unpleasant siutation, but I hope you won’t let it make you so unhappy that you spend time at work complaining with others. That leads to nothing good, as you likely know.

Focus on your own good work. That is your one stable element. Be so effective it will be obvious that you are too valuable to lose. Involve your coworker if you can. Be an encouragement to her, not a resentful or jealous person. You and others may, through your courteousness and friendliness, accomplish much more to get her moving, than all the obvious dispproval you can show.

Best wishes.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.