Q.: Karen, I work for a woman who seemingly plays favorites with staff members. She often has parties and invites some of our staff and not others. On top of that, they talk about the event at work in front of those who didn’t get invited. I think it s very rude and can’t believe she doesn’t know better. Am I off in my thinking? It is starting to cause a lot of problems at work.
A.: I think it is more than rude. Your boss is displaying very poor leadership skills and poor judgment. People in leadership positions shouldn’t play favorites with the people who work under them. Singling out people to socialize with and then discussing it in front of those who didn’t participate is a recipe for disaster in any work environment.
So, in case you missed the memo in kindergarten on inviting friends and co-workers to parties and social events, here are some guidelines:
If you are the boss planning a social event that is going to get talked about and includes many of your favorite employees, then everyone who works for you should be invited. If you can’t manage everyone, then no one from work should be invited. Leaving people out of the event causes bad feelings and divides your team.
Those who may have a friendship with the boss and do socialize with him or her should be very discreet and not discuss any details of the things they do together outside of work with other co-workers. Discussing those details can be perceived as brown-nosing or bragging. And again, it causes bad feelings.
Staff members who have a social relationship with their superiors should not take advantage of that at work. They should address and treat the boss in the same way that everyone else does in the organization. They should never expect special favors at work.
Make sure you know the rules of your workplace regarding fraternizing with other employees.
Regardless of whether we are talking about the workplace or general social situations, be careful about announcing your social calendar with everyone you meet. Those left off the guest list may feel slighted because they are not included.