Favoritism By The Boss

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about favoritism by the boss

“My boss favors the golden boy manager. How do we (other managers and our staff)
deal with this and keep motivated?”

Our problem is about the difference between a boss and a leader. I am a manager of a Finance team and report directly to the Finance VP — along with four other managers. The problem is that the VP shows favoritism to one of the other managers and it is obvious to all other managers as well as our staff.

This favoritism ranges from giving extra support in meetings to securing financial and people resources, The ‘golden boy’ is on a pedestal (they also have a friendly relationship and have lunch together, call each other on weekends, etc).

How do we deal with this and keep ourselves motivated? How can we help our boss be more of a leader instead of only a boss that shows favoritism?

Not Quite As Favored

Dear Not So Favored:

Yes, your V.P. is more boss than leader. Put that thought of favoritism by the boss way back in your mind if you can’t put it out of your head. Bosses shouldn’t play favorites, but some do. Some find a closer working and social relationship with certain subordinates. Some help them as mentors do.

Rather, focus on finding ways to prompt your VP to engage all of you in working together as a team. Among the most subtle, yet direct ways, to coax your manager to be a coach, are found by posing questions in staff meetings such as:

• Are there ways that we might make our division (department, work unit, whatever is appropriate) more effective?

• How might we improve the way we communicate?

• Are there some things we can do to make each other’s jobs or units work easier?

• We appreciate the fact that you do not micromanage, but are there things we managers might do to help our staffs see the big picture your work as VP of Finance represents?

It would be wise to have a list of incidents that you might mention that prompt whichever such questions you pose. It also would be wise to not spring questions from nowhere, but to have planted the seeds with the VP informally. Possibly ask that such questions be put on the agenda with the purpose of improving coordination and cooperation among you managers and staffs.

Almost every work working unit, especially a team of managers who speak for their staff and those in their charge, needs to take time out to do as sports’ teams do after and before every game–that is to have skull session on what went well (or has been working well) and what might we do to make this next game (quarter, month, week) go more smoothly and effectively.

Bosses don’t always have a sense of how important such sessions are. So those in their inner circle must help them give time-out skull sessions a genuine trial period. Learning to work together is not a quick fix but an on-going process. So will you weigh these thoughts and let us know what you do and what does or doesn’t work? Possibly, we will have some additional thoughts to send your way a bit later.

While you are doing all of this, look at the way you treat the employees for whom you are responsible. Make sure they do not have a reason to complain about favoritism by the boss! You may be surprised at who they think is your favorite!

Working together with hands, heads, and hearts takes and makes big WEGOS.

Earning our signature WEGO is an on-going process of work group communication. That is how work groups earn the right to call themselves a team. Will you send us what you and your work group do to create agenda skull sessions to review and improve team collaboration? What works? Or what does not work? The hope and purpose of Ask The Workplace Doctors is this kind of learning from each other.

William Gorden
Ask the Workplace Doctors

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