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12 Ways to Reduce Favoritism in the Workplace

When your boss plays favorites, it can take a heavy toll on your emotional well-being and productivity. Your morale might dwindle when you see an apparently less-deserving coworker receiving plum assignments and more desirable hours.

On the other hand, even if you happen to be the one in favor, there can still be a downside when management behaves unprofessionally.

Take control of the situation. Use these suggestions to help you stay motivated and shine at your job, even if your boss engages in preferential treatment.

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What to Do When You’re The Favorite

Being your boss’s favorite may sound like you won the lottery. However, there are potential pitfalls that you may want to prepare for.

Use these strategies to make your workplace more equitable:

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1. Challenge yourself.

If your boss places few demands on you, create your own opportunities to learn and grow. Sign up for training courses and volunteer for tough assignments.

2. Ask for feedback.

While it’s pleasant to receive praise from your supervisor, you also need critical feedback to assess your performance and potential. Let your boss know that you appreciate suggestions about areas where you need to grow. Find colleagues you can trust, and ask them to tell you how you’re doing.

3. Share the glory.

Minimize conflicts and resentments by sharing your advantages with others. Divide up the credit for team victories. Strive to create an inclusive workplace.

Woman giving talk to another woman and encouraging her
4. Encourage professionalism.

You may even be able to use your position to help management reduce favoritism. Support training and other programs that support fair policies and practices. Be a positive role model for impartiality if you have employees who report to you.

5. Look ahead. Keep in mind that your preferred status could change.

Base your career path on your achievements instead of relying on being buddies with your boss.

What to Do When You’re Not the Favorite

Does your boss forget your name, but he takes the guy in the next cubicle out to lunch at least once a week?

Try these tips for reinforcing your sense of self-worth:

Woman presenting at a conference
1. Strengthen your skills.

Focus on increasing your capacity. Put your heart into your work, regardless of whether your boss notices.

2. Advocate for yourself.

Open doors for yourself. Raise your visibility inside and outside of your company by participating in meetings, writing reports, and proposing new ideas.

3. Stay neutral.

Resist the urge to take rejection personally. Be friendly and helpful toward your boss.

4. Talk with your boss.

If possible, try to maintain effective communication with your supervisor. Ask for one-on-one meetings. Clarify their expectations so you know their priorities and can channel your time and resources accordingly.

5. Seek common ground.

It may also help to find some mutual interests that you and your boss can talk about. Research their background to see if they share your passion for scuba diving or growing roses. Maybe you both grew up in small towns or minored in drama at college.

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6. Build other relationships.

While you’re trying to make progress with your boss, you can also cultivate other connections that will be beneficial to your career and your level of job satisfaction. Reach out to your peers at work and in other companies. Attend networking events. Find yourself a mentor.

7. Know your rights.

In some cases, favoritism goes beyond being just unpleasant, and you may want to consider legal remedies. An employment lawyer can explain your options if you suspect that discrimination or harassment is taking place.

Protect your career and peace of mind from the consequences of favoritism in the office. Maintain your own professional standards and team spirit, and focus on excelling at your work.

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