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Your Office Coach

Favoritism In The Workplace: Real Life Drama

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Question: “I work with someone who is the boss’s pet.  She talks on the phone with him all the time, and he allows her to work extra hours, even though I also could use the overtime. This co-worker reviews all orders and also is responsible for updating the computer records. Whenever a problem arises, the boss calls her to discuss it. There are only two of us here, but he won’t cross-train me on her duties. How should I handle this unfairness?” — The Unfavored One

Marie's Answer: Your colleague apparently has been given the lead role in your office, even though no one has officially said so. If your boss was smart, he would formally define duties and clarify roles, but many small-office managers fail to do this. Having a peer elevated above you without explanation is annoying, so your resentment is normal. However, it’s also a complete waste of emotional energy.  Instead, focus on furthering your own career. Here's how:

* Make every effort to get along well with your co-worker. Since the boss favors her, alienating your co-worker will jeopardize only your own future.

* Stop worrying about her relationship with the boss and start improving your own. Do outstanding work. Make suggestions for improvements. Be consistently pleasant and helpful. 

* Don’t focus just on your own narrow responsibilities. Managers appreciate employees who show interest in the bigger picture. Find opportunities to ask your boss questions about the business. 

Bottom line: Act like someone your boss would want to promote and assign more responsibility to. Consider this question: Do you really want a larger role or do you just resent the attention that your co-worker receives?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

lucy December 23, 2015 at 9:04 am

I feel this way also and one other gal where I work feels the same way. The girl learned and caught on to all procedures on the register in a short amount of time. She has also won secret shops that come in once a month. You don’t want to be bombing out on that because then you don’t get a $50 dollar bonus at the end of the month and then no one else gets that either. I do mistakes and I was told if I don’t remember how to do things people get mad and don’t come back and we loose business. Most people are understanding, plus I fret because she may cut hours and this is disheartening. I don’t feel good about myself where I work. What do I do?


maddie June 30, 2014 at 3:47 pm

I think Ms McIntyre is out of touch and should not be giving advise on something she clearly knows nothing about. You are assuming that the victim is not doing quality work and that is why she is not getting rewarded at work. How insulting.. This is proof that they will publish anything these days even the unkind words of a short minded person who should be using her degree to help people feel better rather than encourage her to be deserving of better treatment.


What June 4, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I used to be friends with the favored employee, but found I was being stabbed in the back while the favored employee was using me. So, the first suggestion didn’t work.

I started with a great relationship with my boss. Then, the favored employee cozied up to the boss. This was noticed by another coworker when I got along with the favored employee. The favored employee is extremely territorial of the boss’ attention. Anticipate getting stabbed in the back if you get attention from the boss. The boss also gets apologetic and gives attention to this person after speaking with someone else.

Not a lot of narrow responsibilities… I have too many responsibilities. The favored employee is constantly getting out of work. Well, lunch is over. Back to the chain gang!


Jaine March 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm

@Wilson – It could be due to your writing or your communication skills. This post was so grammatically incorrect and filled with so many run on sentences that I don’t understand what you’re saying….and I’m african american myself!


maya October 31, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Your advice will just exacerbate the problem. Basically what you are telling is – no matter what, everything is ok, keep doing good work and don’t think of anything. You have the right and a duty to stand for your rights – you, instead, offer to deny the problem. There are ways to DEAL with and to FEEL GOOD about yourself and your potential.


Julie Wasserman April 14, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Lady, you are a moron, you should not be giving advice to anyone. Telling someone who is a victim of favoritism to try to kiss up to her boss and buddy up to the one getting favoritism is exacerbating the problem. And that is you great wisdom to tell someone who is victimized to further accommodate the abuser. You are an incredible idiot.


Sham October 23, 2012 at 6:35 am

I gotta agree with you totally. “Act like someone your boss would want to promote and assign more responsibility to” ?? why should I be an *** kisser when I know i’m doing the right thing? There are ways for people like me to climb up… eventually at least. as if these favouritesofbosses could ever match the quality of work people like me doing!!
MARIE MCINTYRE, PH. D: I think you should seriously think about your advises again..!


Jenny March 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm

@Wilson ( Author/Admin)
-file a law suit!


Wilson October 29, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Is this races are Favoritism:

I work for this company for 8 months and I found that our site director and manager shows favoritism. On our team we have 9 African Americans 3 White Americans and one Hispanic American. Well our boss which is Hispanic shows favoritism towards our co work which is Hispanic and the white Americans. He has all of the African American help our coworker which is Hispanic to do his work while he comes in late daily. He constanstly has to tell him to do his work and stay at his desk. But he continues to not stay at his desk. There are rumors that the reason why he does that is because our boss which is marry is messing with the White American lady.. She is young and fresh out of college and just now.. they promote her to go to another team cause our site leader knows her mom. Our boss put in a word for her to move to another team cause he knows that if people find out it will get out. Which everybody knows all ready..He also had our co work the hispanic American to move to another team as well cause it was rumors that he make to much money prior to his previous experience. And he know that our boss like this girl. Now our boss is servicing another team which is the one that the White American lady is work at and we are left with half of him. Because he tell us that his manager the site leader said he needs to manage the other team.. It sounds weird but they are keeping things quite and it is bothering me. We are all temps accept for one, she is quite and to herself, she does not want to get involved cause she is afraid to lose her job. What shall be done? Could we take this to Human Resource.


What June 4, 2012 at 1:10 pm

OK… Try grammar check, too. Concur with Jaine. You might want to ask your temp company if they provide English classes.


ME! February 3, 2014 at 7:53 pm

You certainly won’t get an award for sensitivity, What. This writer obviously has a different language as her/his original. If you handle that by putting the person down, you should NEVER be a boss!


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