Work can be stressful, and the level of stress can raise or lower depending on several factors; the nature of the job, how well you get along with your co-workers, and what kind of client you have to deal with are all factors that affect how you view your job. One of the major factors, however, is the type of boss you have to deal with on a daily basis.
Having a conversation the other day with a Singaporean friend over coffee, he underlined that dealing with our bosses can be particularly painful if he or she is the kind of person who has favourites – often people who crawl shamelessly in pursuit of a cheap ride by telling on others, but show zero delivery in terms of output.
Needless to say, all bosses have favourites, so it is not always a bad thing, as long as their favourites are people they rate and like because of their superior work ethics. In fact, it would be inhuman if this did not happen.
The situation only becomes a problem, however, when these “favourites” are instead chosen on their ability to fawn and grovel, provide “insider information,” and rat on their colleagues, rather than on their ability to do the job well.
With this conversation lingering in my mind as I walked home, an article from the Financial Times captured my attention, as it strongly resembled the conversation I’d just had.
The author categorized bosses as bigamists versus serial monogamists, stating that the “favourites system in most organizations works more like a harem than a conventional marriage – in which the ex-spouses tend to move from most-loved to least-loved in one leap.”
This wife analogy makes complete sense because most of these bosses don’t care about the actual person they have thrown out, but rather the words and information that those people are feeding the boss; these “favourites” become valueless and easily replaceable the minute another comes along with whatever sweet words the boss wants to hear.
This favourite who had once been the star of the show, and thought him/herself invincible, now has to deal with the fact that he/she is the bottom of the pile with the rest of them.
I have unfortunately witnessed this disgusting behaviour among quite a number of people in the workforce, people who have made a career out of playing such a kind of card.
But unsurprisingly, it always comes back to haunt them at some point – it might take a while, but their fall from grace is usually guaranteed, and manifold worse than the people they destroyed.
The most important point to remember when out there in the work place is that, much as we love our bosses, no matter how hard you try, there are those of you out there who won’t ever be able to meet your boss halfway.
Don’t be tempted by that brief moment of glory, where you would be the boss’ star because you sold yourself to him/her, rather than continuing to show that you have the skills to do the job well; this will only lead to your eventual downfall, and your skills will be even more in question than they were in the beginning.
Rather, in such a case, take stock of how much you’re willing to take and whether a career move would be the best.
Always maintain your professionalism and more importantly, your integrity. If you know you’re a good worker, eventually you will get the boss you deserve and the job you deserve.
Liban Mugabo is a graduate student in Singapore