15 Alarming Signs Your Boss Plays Favorites

Written By Aleena

Do you feel like your boss is playing favorites? If so, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, favoritism is common in the workplace. Let’s find out some apparent signs your boss plays favorites.

Is your boss constantly giving one employee special treatment? Do they always get the best assignments or the most exciting projects?

Your Boss Plays Favorites – 15 Crystal Clear Sign

Here are some signs that your boss may be playing favorites:

1. Give Preferential Treatment To Some:

If your boss constantly gives one employee special treatment, your boss is playing favorites.

This could mean that they always get the best assignments or projects. Or they’re given more leeway when it comes to rules and deadlines. 

Resentment  in employees - Signs Your Boss Plays Favorites

They also get more one-on-one meeting time with the boss, and their opinion is constantly solicited first.

No matter how much you try, you can’t seem to get the same level of treatment.

And it’s not just you who’s noticed. Other employees have probably also caught on, causing morale problems.

That’s not to say that your boss can’t give employees different levels of responsibility.

But if they’re constantly giving the same person special treatment, something is fishy.

2. More Positive With Some Than Others:

Your boss may be playing favorites if they’re more upbeat with some employees than others are the signs of favouritism at work.

They may give more compliments or go out of their way to praise them. They also may seem happier when they’re around certain employees.

Or they may give certain employees more opportunities to shine. Meanwhile, they’re more critical of you and other employees.

They’re quick to point out your mistakes but slow to acknowledge your successes. 

They may even be cold or rude to you and other employees. It’s not that your boss is a bad person. They may have a preference for certain employees.

But if they’re singling out one employee for positive attention, it’s unfair.

3. Dislike Certain Employees:

Disliking some employees more than others is another sign your boss plays favorites.

They may make snide comments about them or roll their eyes when talking to them. They also may avoid talking to them altogether.

Or they may go out of their way to make their lives difficult. For example, they may give them impossible deadlines. 

Or assign them all the tedious tasks. Your boss doesn’t like certain employees. But it’s not clear why.

It could be that they don’t like their work style, or their skills threaten them.

Or maybe they don’t like their personality. Whatever the reason, it’s not fair to single out specific employees.

4. Never Criticize Favorite:

Your boss playing favorites if they never criticize their favorite employee.

They may make mistakes or do sub-par work. But your boss always turns a blind eye.

Or they may even defend their favorite, no matter how wrong they are. When their favorite makes a mistake, your boss may try to blame someone else.

Or they may downplay the seriousness of the mistake. They don’t want to damage their relationship with their favorite. 

But this sets a double standard, and it’s unfair to other employees. This creates an uneven playing field and makes it difficult for you to improve.

Not only that, but it can also erode morale and lead to resentment.

5. They’re Too Close To Their Favorite:

When your boss is too close to their favorite employee, it’s a sign that they’re playing favorites.

They may confide in them or share personal information. They also may go out of their way to help them, both professionally and personally.

Moreover, they may socialize with them outside of work. For example, they may go to lunch or happy hour together.

Power imbalance  - Signs Your Boss Plays Favorites

Or they may attend their child’s soccer game together. Meanwhile, they keep their distance from you and other employees.

They’re not interested in your personal life, and they don’t share much about their own.

This creates power imbalance and makes it difficult for you to build a rapport with them.

6. Boss Ignore Your Contributions:

If your boss is playing favorites, they may ignore your contributions. They may take credit for your ideas or give all the credit to their favorite.

They also may not give you the credit you deserve when you complete a project.

Or they may not include you in meaningful conversations. For example, they may make decisions without involving you.

Your boss doesn’t value your contributions. And this can be frustrating, especially if you’re working hard.

Not only that, but it can also make you feel like you’re not a valuable member of the team.

7. Boss Don’t Care About Your Development:

Your boss may not care about your development but may be invested in their favorite’s development.

They may give them all the best assignments or send them to important meetings. Or they may provide them with a promotion, even though you’re more qualified.

Your boss wants their favorite to succeed. But they’re not interested in helping you grow and develop your skills. 

They may not give you opportunities to stretch yourself. Or they may assign you tasks that are beneath your skill level.

And this can be frustrating because you want to do your best. But you feel like you’re being held back.

8. Boss Take Sides In Conflict:

Your boss may take sides in the conflict, even if it’s not their place to do so. For example, they may take their favorite’s side, even if they’re wrong.

Uneven playing field.

Or they may criticize you in front of other people. This is unfair because it puts you at a disadvantage.

And it makes it difficult for you to resolve the conflict. What’s more, this behavior can damage your relationship with your boss. Because it is unfair and creates an uneven playing field. 

9. Give Unfair Evaluation:

Your boss may have a favorite employee that they love to give good reviews to. But the rest of you get the short end of the stick when it comes to your evaluations.

You constantly get criticized while your boss’s favorite is being given a pass.

This type of behavior creates a hostile work environment. And it can make it difficult for you to do your job effectively.

It is because of this reason that you should always keep track of your accomplishments. Also, speak up for yourself during evaluations.

10. Flexible In Case Of Certain Employees:

When it comes to scheduling, some employees always seem to get the days and hours that they want. However, the rest of you have crumbs left for you.

Your boss constantly accommodates the schedules of their favorite employees. However, they make it difficult for the rest of you to have a work-life balance.

For instance, they may not be as understanding if you need to leave early for a doctor’s appointment.

But their favorite employee can do no wrong in their eyes. Their favorite employees always seem to get flexibility. Such as flexibility in tardiness, vacation days, and more.

This is another sign that your boss plays favorites.

11 Provide Quick Evaluation For Some:

When an employee makes a mistake, they are usually given a chance to improve.

However, your boss’s favorite employees always seem to get off the hook quickly.

Your boss may provide a quick evaluation for their favorite employees. But the rest of you stew in your mistakes.

Your boss may give a chance to prove themselves on promotions only to some.

But the rest of you are languishing in your current position. This is another sign that your boss has a favorite employee.

12. Always Have Good Things To Say:

It may seem like your boss is constantly nitpicking your work. But they always have great things to say about their favorite employee.


Because of this, you may feel like you can never please your boss no matter how hard you try.

For instance, your boss may give their favorite employee a compliment in front of you. But they never seem to have good things to say about your work.

This can be frustrating and make you feel like you’re not appreciated.

13. Give Important Information Only To Certain Employees:

Your boss may give their favorite employees important information. But the rest of you are not privy to it.

For instance, they may tell their favorite employees about an upcoming project before.

Or, they may give their favorite employees a heads up about a change in policy.

But they don’t give you the same courtesy. Rather, you find out about these things after the fact.

This can make you feel like you’re not a valued member of the team.

14. Mentor Only Certain Ones:

Your boss may have a mentee that they love to help. They may give them advice and help them develop their skills.

They help their mentee grow in their career. And they may even give them special assignments.

However, they don’t offer the same opportunity to the rest of you. Infact, they may not even bother to get to know you.

You don’t get the same guidance or development opportunities as their favorite employee.

Instead, you’re left to fend for yourself. This is another sign that your boss has a favorite employee.

15. Give Some Employee Preference In Training:

Your boss’s favorite employee always seem to get the best training opportunities.

For instance, they may get to attend a conference that the rest of you don’t.

Or, they may get to go on a special training course that will help them develop their skills.

But the rest of you are out in the cold. You don’t get the same opportunity to develop your skills.

This can make you feel like your boss doesn’t value your development.

These are some of the signs that your boss has a favorite employee. If you see these signs, then it’s time to have a talk with your boss.

Can You Deal With Favoritism At Work?

Favoritism at work is a difficult situation to deal with. But there are some things you can do to improve the situation.

1. Talk To Your Boss:

If you think your boss is playing favorites, talk to them. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s essential to communicate your concerns.

Explain how you feel, and give specific examples of favoritism. For instance, you could say, “I noticed you gave John the best assignment. But I am more qualified for that project.” 

Or you could say, “I feel like you do not include me in meaningful conversations. 

Can we talk about that?” Or “I noticed you went to lunch with Jane, but you haven’t gone to lunch with me.

Your boss may not realize that they’re playing favorites. So it’s important to talk to them about it.

If they are deliberately playing favorites, this conversation may not change their behavior. But it can help you communicate your concerns.

2. Try To Build A Rapport With Your Boss:

If your boss is playing favorites, it’s essential to build a rapport with them.

This may not be easy, but it’s worth a try. Please get to know them better, and find out their interests.

Make a rapport

Show them that you’re interested in their work, and ask for their advice. 

Be friendly and cheerful, even if they’re not. And don’t take it personally if they’re not interested in getting to know you better. Just keep trying, and eventually, they may come around.

3. Focus On Your Work:

Don’t let the situation get to you, and don’t let it affect your work. Focus on doing your best, and don’t let the favoritism bother you.

Remember, you’re not the only one who’s affected by this. And it’s not worth getting upset about something you can’t control.

Instead, you should focus on what you can control, like your work. Grow your skills, and look for opportunities to showcase your talent. 

It will eventually pay off, and you’ll be the better for it.

4. Find A Mentor:

If your boss is playing favorites, it can be challenging to get ahead. So it’s essential to find a mentor who can help you with your career development. 

A mentor can give you advice, help you to network, and introduce you to new opportunities.

They can also provide moral support and help you deal with difficult situations. And if your boss is playing favorites, a mentor can be a great ally.

5. Talk To Human Resources:

If the situation is terrible, you may want to talk to human resources. They can investigate the case, and they may be able to help you resolve the issue.

However, this should be a last resort. Because it may damage your relationship with your boss, it could make the situation worse.

And if you do go to human resources, be prepared for the possibility that they may not be able to help you.

They may not be able to take action, or they may not see the situation the same way you do.

Thus, it’s essential to weigh the risks and benefits before taking this step.

6. Leave:

If the situation is terrible and you can’t resolve it, you may need to leave. Favoritism takes a toll on morale, making work very difficult.

So if you can’t stand the situation, it may be best to find a new job.

Of course, this isn’t always easy. But sometimes, it’s the best solution. Your mental health and well-being are more important than your job.

These are just a few things you can do if your boss plays favorites. It’s not easy to deal with, but it is possible to improve the situation.


A boss plays favorites when choosing someone for a project or an assignment. They give preferential treatment to certain employees over others.

Also, the boss may show special treatment in terms of perks, benefits, and privileges. This can create a tense and uncomfortable work environment.

And it can lower morale among the staff. If you think your boss is playing favorites, try to build a rapport with them, focus on your work, and find a mentor.

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