How I coped with my Boss favoring other employees
Standing at the threshold of his career, Kaustubh was all set to start with his first job. Little did he know, that a few months down the line things would go awry and he would be finding himself amidst an all new professional mess.
At first, all was great for him - a demanding profile, a good salary, a state-of-the-art workplace campus, and seemingly social coworkers. Much unlike then, Kaustabh was now bothered and anxious. But what could an employee with so many perks feel low about?
Here’s what Kaustubh had to say:
“My experience in my first job itself made me realise how groupism is not just a college thing; it very much exists at the workplace too. My colleagues had already found ‘their people’, and I was sure-as-hell not one of them. Barely a month into this role, and I was already lonely, as well as an outcast.
If that were not all, there were also these group of employees who were my boss’s favorites. They were inside my boss’s circle, and he would favor them over me quite often. It was evident just by the looks of it. While there were many others who seemed unfazed by what was happening, I on the other hand was deeply impacted.”
It is natural to get overwhelmed and find it difficult to cope with certain situations, especially in our first job where we are new to the professional world and pretty much everything is alien to us.
Some of these circumstances at work may lead us to believe things that are of unfavorable nature, but how many times do we actually go on to questioning our own feelings and perceptions about what’s happening?
As real as Kaustubh’s struggle was, how much of what he believed to be true was actually taking place?
“Kaustubh is a very bright boy brimming with enthusiasm - why else would I hire him to be in our team? He was no topper, but was well-versed with the basics of his job role, and has good interpersonal skills. I was, and in fact am happy to have him around simply because he is a good fit.
In all my honesty, I wasn’t even aware of how he felt until we had a Life Coach come in to boost employee engagement and wellbeing here at our organisation. But it’s better late than never, and so I’m glad I got to know about this, else we would have lost an employee with great potential to sheer misunderstanding.”
Some of the triggers behind how Kaustubh felt were:
- Kaustubh’s colleagues were not as monitored as he was on a daily basis
- Little to no feedback was provided to them
- These colleagues were advocated over and above him as far as opportunities to conduct/lead activities at the workplace was concerned.
- Rakesh would have laughter sessions with other team members but not with Kaustubh
As somebody who was new to the professional world, anything going wrong, especially for the first time was likely to impact Kaustubh more than it would have, had it taken place at a later time in his career.
“Each time I would try opening up about it, I would be told things like: ‘get over it’, ‘it happens with everybody’, and ‘there are people with worse situations than yours; be thankful you at least have a job’. This is what made things worse for me.”
Being unable to resign from his place of work, and also have no window to vent and share what was bothering him brought a distressed Kaustubh to a point where he would find himself on Google every other day, sourcing out symptoms of depression; trying to self-diagnose himself somehow.
It was then that I decided to meet with a Life Coach. Believe me, that was undoubtedly the best decision of my life!
Given how distressed Kaustubh was at the time, one of the most significant aspects of his Life Coaching program was the fact that he was provided with a much needed space to vent out his thoughts and feelings, minus the fear of judgement as he went about baring his sensitive, vulnerable side to his Coach.
There were various aspects of his situation that were very important to him, there were certain factors that he had never thought of taking into consideration, and of course, through the course of his conversation, Kaustubh also gained perspective into the other sides of his situation.
While Kaustubh was feeling depressive, somebody whose story was left unheard or overlooked was that of his boss. Read on to know more…..
“Like I said, it was my decision to have Kaustubh with us. He was approachable, knowledged, and respectful. When you’re new to a place, it does take some time for you to establish that connect with everyone, and same was the case with him.
Let me tell you - those coworkers he thought were being favored over him have been with us for over a year now. So, coming back to the point that I’d made, forming a rapport and getting well acquainted with your work is a gradual, time consuming process. But yes, eventually it does happen provided you stay committed to making it happen.”
Not just that, the person Kaustubh thought to be unfair also had this to say:
“I really am sorry to know of how he (Kaustubh) feels, but believe me when I say this - nobody had/has any intentions of hurting his sentiments. He is one of us, and part of our organisation’s family. Had he told me about this even indirectly, it would have saved him all the stress he had to undergo.”
Life during and after Life Coaching
Just like how one single rainbow has as many as 7 colours to it, a single situation can have various factors where one may either conveniently choose to believe those parts that coincide with their feelings, or simply be unable to acknowledge certain things due to lack of awareness.
Acceptance & Motivation
There are two primary ways of helping somebody who is undergoing a phase of low - one is where you tell them how others go through worse things, and what you should be doing instead of cribbing and crying over your situation.
The other way is by understanding our individual ‘Circle of Concern v/s Circle of Control’. There are various about our life that may concern us, and these fall within our Circle of Concern. That said, not each of these factors can be altered, changed, or controlled by us; the ones that can however, fall under our Circle of Control.
While Kaustubh was reassured of how natural it is to feel overwhelmed and drained all at the same time, both him and Rakesh were reminded that what mattered was their collective inclination towards intending to change things for the better.
This first step not only brought Kaustubh to accept his feelings and emotions, but also boosted both his and Rakesh’s morales.
Breaking It Down
No, I am not referring to throwing things or breaking items! It simply means making a note of all the sub-parts of my situation by identifying the what - how - why of it. So, speaking in a nutshell, this is what it meant:
Kaustubh felt Rakesh would favor other employees over him, while Rakesh was taken aback to know this, and chose to disagree.
As little to no feedbacks were given to his colleagues, Kaustubh felt like a different kind of treatment was being meted out to him.
This was where things hit both of them. Throughout they were focusing on what was happening, but maybe, just maybe if they instead concentrated on the reasons behind the whys of their situation, things could be improved!
Both Kaustubh and Rakesh were asked about what concerned them significantly regarding this matter.
“It’s really just the part where I feel I am being treated unfairly. There’s no other problem. Had this issue with him (read: Rakesh) not cropped up in my mind, I would have safely said I am satisfied with my job.”
Rakesh’s concerns were different. He said:
“As a leader I would always want my team to perform to their full potential. My concern is that this is something that is obviously not happening, as we can achieve high productivity only if each member is determined to give their best. Efficiency I feel is a by-product of a happy employee, and so am I willing to do what it takes to make Kaustubh more comfortable and break the ice.”
Keep Contact with One Another
Workload, pending tasks, targets, or other setbacks for that matter may brings us to lose touch with our coworkers, supervisors, and subordinates in the process of trying to sort out our concerns. That said, no matter what the situation may be, it is extremely important to stay connected at all times, or at least as much as you can.
Upon motivation from their Life Coach, both Rakesh and Kaustubh did take conscious efforts to keep each other in the loop much more in comparison to what they would do earlier on. This made their communication much more effective than before, and the overall working relationship between the both of them grew healthier over the next few weeks.
The professional C’s
Each time people share varying outlooks, mutual dislike, or a simple difference in opinion, they are always faced with 2 choices of how to go about it. One can either Confront the other and maybe make matters worse than what they are, or strike Conversations that would help them understand one another in a better manner.
Of course, Rakesh and Kaustubh chose Conversations.
To make this work, both parties would set aside 15-20 minutes or conversation time each day to get to know one another better. Doing so helped them gain insight into each other’s thought processes and expectations, and also had the added benefit of promoting a happier bond between the both of them!
Seek out other motivators
This was the Life Coach’s personal suggestion to Kaustubh
Both our professional and personal lives tend to get hit by setbacks every now and then, and so having other alternatives in terms of planning or approaching a situation is always for the better. Speaking of work in particular, there may be times where your own boss may be unable to help, guide, and motivate you the way you would like them to.
This is where it is always a good idea to source out other managers, supervisors, or seniors who could play mentor and motivator to you at your place of work. Remember, if things don’t work out with one person, there are others you can look up to.
Instead of giving in to your situation, focusing on building relationships with other bosses can sometimes do the trick for us. Other than trying to gain recognition from my boss, Kaustabh was also encouraged to form healthy rapports with a few other seniors who could help him stay motivated through his phase of positive transition.
Be a cautious friend
Irrespective of whether you’re a boss or a team member, a very significant part of building a healthy employee - employer relationship is one’s approachable persona. If a worker seems uninterested to form a good professional rapport with their colleagues and/or supervisors (and vice-versa), it is highly likely for this aspect of their nature to garner them negative attention at work.
Both Rakesh and Kaustubh were made to understand the minute factors that separate friendliness from friendship by their Life Coach - there was a big difference in being a friendly professional, and becoming a friend.
While Kaustubh began focusing more not just on establishing stronger bonds not only with Rakesh, but also with his team members, including those he thought his boss had been favoring over him, Rakesh on the other hand because more alert and sensitive towards Kaustubh’s wellbeing.
Memory game on point
Through the course of the therapy, their Life Coach highlighted the importance of remembering the little details about their work, as well as that of co-employees, supervisors, and subordinates. It was not just something as significant as the contents of a meeting that one must be able to recall, but also things like previous achievements, your boss/team member’s birthday, etc. that is always thoughtful of you to remember.
As insignificant as these may seem to many, acknowledging such details helps one lay the foundation of a positive relationship with their coworkers. For instance, being one of those who makes it a point to wish their supervisor/team members on their special days would not just reflect positively on you as an individual, but also lay emphasis on your humble gesture and good memory! ;-)
Their Life Coach suggested a few more basic Do’s and Don’ts that could come in handy:
- Sustain your focus only on what YOU can do to achieve desired outcomes;
- Leave no stone unturned in contributing to your organisation at all times;
- Be approachable and friendly to all;
- Initiate conversations/activities that promote employee equality and recognition;
- In case employee recognition programs are absent, mention it during your feedback process;
- Stay connected with your loved ones, especially during a period of stress and worry;
- Practise mindfulness - make a note of your goals, past achievements, and things that make you happy to help you feel optimistic and boost positive behavior.
- Venting about your discomfort to your coworkers, no matter how close, warm, and friendly they may seem to you;
- Confronting your boss regarding your dissatisfaction. Choose healthy over unhealthy conversations;
- Gossip sessions with your colleagues. One can never tell what comes back to bite us at a later point in time;
- Stay put in a job that is making you unhappy. If you believe you have exhausted your attempts at trying to improve things for yourself at work, it is always best to look for ways to seek better opportunities;
- Isolate yourself from those who matter to you. Doing so would give you more time by yourself to think about your stressors, which would do you more harm than good.
In the end, both Kaustubh and Rakesh came to realise that at times, while we’re busy fretting over things that are bothering us, we fail to think about what we can do to initiate the process of positive transition, let alone implement that much needed change.
A month down the line, both boss and team member were found to be sharing a much improved & healthier equation!
Remember, if what happened matters to you, then what can be done about it should be of equal or more importance. :-)