When faced with favoritism, the wisest strategy is to do the exact opposite of what you would like to do.

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Q: Two years ago, our department got a new director who came from another business. “Rick” gradually brought in more employees from his previous company, and they now make up a rather large group. These people all enjoy socializing and often attend parties and ballgames together.

After awhile, I began to notice that Rick’s friends seemed to be taking over. He frequently spends time chatting with them and listens to their opinions on work issues. Many lower-level members of this clique know more about what’s going on than their supervisors do. How can we fight this blatant favoritism?

A: When faced with favoritism, the wisest strategy is to do the exact opposite of what you would like to do. People who feel like second-class citizens naturally want to complain about unfair treatment and retaliate against the in-crowd. Unfortunately, this understandable reaction has a tendency to backfire.

Managers who play favorites typically make decisions based on personal feelings and reactions. Employees who trigger positive emotions often have more access and get more consideration. This may not be fair, but unless you can prove illegal discrimination, complaining about it just sounds like whining.

If you become resentful and angry, you will only succeed in making the favored folks look better by comparison. Therefore, a better response to favoritism is to become a favorite yourself. To accomplish this, you must understand your manager’s preferences, relate to him accordingly, and make every effort to get along with his pals.

Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.