I work in a departmental store in the Deccan area of Pune. I have been employed here for the last years. We are a team of around 20 women in our department, ranging from 21 to 45 years of age. The total staff strength, counting all the departments, is around 50. We report to a middle-aged manager who has been with the company for three years.
He is very courteous and respectful in his interactions. The owners also seem to have faith in his capabilities. But at times we feel that he is extra nice to certain employees. He is more friendly with them and grants them special favours in certain areas, like granting of extra leave or in leaving for home earlier than the stipulated closing time.
As a result, those girls pretend to work very hard, and get away with slackness. In the process, the team target gets affected and we lose out on our commissions. It is affecting the morale of the rest of us. Since he is a nice person, we don’t want to confront him and accuse him of indulging in partiality. What is the right way to approach him?
First of all, remember that everyone has favourites in life. You would have had favourite teachers, bosses etc. So it is on the other side. It’s part of human nature. The best bosses are the ones who might have favourites but do not allow that to affect their professional duties. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Your errant colleagues have simply assessed the situation better. Hence they have been able to take advantage of his nature, to eke out some special favours. There are some very ‘nice’ bosses who actually are weak taskmasters, and in the process, indiscipline creeps into the system and ultimately leads to a breakdown in morale and motivation. If your perceptions are grounded in reality, then your boss’ behaviour reeks of unprofessionalism.
Talk to your boss. Let him know your observations on the perceived selective granting of favours to some of your colleagues. You will need to be tactful so it doesn’t have negative repercussions on your future in the company, in case his ‘niceness’ does an about-turn, on being confronted.
Be sure to tell him that you appreciate his support, and that is why you feel that you can communicate freely, and believe that he will address your concerns in a fair and just manner. Be ready to share specific instances of his ‘partiality’ so that you can debate the matter fairly. He will probably have a particular reason for his actions which he might want to express. Maybe, that will present a different perspective on the situation.
Continue to work as sincerely as you do now. Once you have apprised him of your point of view, he is likely to become more conscious of his actions, as the situation has now been articulated. He will feel the pressure and am sure will take adequate actions to retain his stature and credibility in the organisation.
(The writer is an image consultant and corporate trainer. If you have queries for him, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org)