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How to work around a Manager's favoured team member?

I was moved from TeamA to TeamB as a new project was about to begin; So I came under this TeamB Lead. TeamB has a member (call him Dave) whom the Lead has recruited, unlike the rest of us who have moved from a different team.

We all work well together TechLead is really good except this one problem; Dave hangs around the Lead everywhere he goes (lunch table, team project discussion, team outing, cafeteria, etc.) so much that none of us individual team member are able to discuss with Lead alone for even 5 minutes. Each of us have our own individual tech issues, project issues and ideas that we would like to discuss with the lead - not every discussion need all the team members. It is not always possible to book a conference room. I may just want quick talk in the cafeteria or at the Lead's desk. Somehow Dave finds it out and joins our discussion.

Lead likes Fav so much that even though it is my Tech issue discussion:

  1. Lead listens to Fav rather than my point of view.

  2. If we do some mistake in our code and issue is reported, then the Lead forwards our mistakes to Dave. (only to Dave; we will not even be cc'd in), even though we all are competent enough to resolve our mistakes in the code.

  3. If there are any issues in the code and we provide our analysis, the Lead does not talk to concerned team member instead secretly discusses with Dave to get a second opinion.

  4. On several occasions, this Lead has made fun (derogatory) about team members in front of Dave.

Well, I am not sure whether this should be called bias or this is how the tech lead should be (Dave just happens to be a lucky guy) or whether it is favouritism towards his own recruit.

But I and the rest of the team members are frustrated, we do not know how to communicate about this to our Lead. If any of us mention about Dave in front of him, the Lead gets so angry, we will know that in the next performance review. So we do not know how to deal with this favouritism towards Dave.

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    Can you please change the question title? I expected your problem to be a manager who brings an actual dog to the office. – Roland Dec 13 '18 at 7:35
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I once started a new job and discovered directly on my first day that one person in our small team was of the same nationality as the team lead. I was immediately alarmed and it soon became clear that my worries were justified.

The team consisted of the lead's favourite and "the rest". His favourite could do no wrong. We were insignificant although we were all peers.

This is a horrible environment to work in!

  • It demotivates the team. If team members aren't listened to and their efforts aren't acknowledged, they are probable to soon come to the conclusion their performance doesn't play any role. The consequences for the team performance are clear.
  • If people don't feel they can grow in their current jobs, they tend to start searching for new positions.
  • It destroys the atmosphere in the team and teamwork. Other team members start to hold grudges against the favourite. The "us vs. them" dynamic sets in.

The problem is it's virtually impossible for you, as a team member, to change the lead's behaviour. Favouritism means he's simply not a good manager. But you can't change your boss.

If I were you I would do what's best for me and my career. Is there anything that makes you unable to change your job? Is your job special in any respect? If that's not the case and if the situation you described lasts for more than a few months, I would consider leaving the company before I get totally unhappy.

Important: I assumed here, you are all peers and the favourite is not better than the rest of you. If he were better, my reply would be different of course.

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From your description the person you are calling "puppy" hasn't done anything untoward to you or your coworkers. Since they haven't actually done anything to you, referring to him as "puppy" makes you sound petty, and unprofessional. I'd advise you to knock it off.

The real problem seems to be with your manager and their favoritism. Tackling your manager about their failings as a manager is always tricky and hazardous.

I would forget about items 1, 2, and 5. Ignore it and try to let it roll off your back. Complaining about those items will just make you sound jealous, and it's within the manager's legitimate discretion to decide who's opinion they value most.

For item number 3, I think it's legitimate to tell your manager: "I understand you've been discussing issue X with employee Y. Issue X is my particular area of responsibility, can you be sure to include me on any discussions of X? I just want to make sure I'm on top of the problem."

For item 4, if a manager is mocking an employee in front of others, then in my opinion they are a terrible manager. Unfortunately, your options for dealing with this are limited. You can straight forwardly tell them that you don't appreciate it, and they should stop. Sadly, unless it was a momentary lapse by an otherwise competent manager, this is unlikely to be effective. You could document the incident and complain to your company's human resources department if there is one. As always, keep in mind that human resources works for the company, not for you personally. Finally, you can start looking for a position with a better manager.

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    "It's within the manager's legitimate discretion to decide who's opinion they value most". A good manager listens to everybody and evaluates people on the basis of their merits (skills, performance), not personal biases and prejudices. A clear favouritism as the one described by OP is bound to impact on the morale in the team. – BigMadAndy Dec 13 '18 at 15:26
  • @385703 No. It's really up to the manager to decide if they want to act by your definition of "a good manager". They are free to consult whomever - that's the view of upper management or HR. You cannot bring up points 1,2,5 and hope to succeed. Improper employee evaluation? OP doesn't mention that formal aspect at all. – kubanczyk Dec 16 '18 at 10:38
  • @kubanczyk: What a strange comment. Of course, it's up to the manager to decide if they want to act by my (or anybody else's) definition of "a good manager". But it's up to me to criticise some types of behaviour. Not sure what the point of your comment is. – BigMadAndy Dec 16 '18 at 10:55
  • @385703 You can criticize, but this comment thread is intended to improve this answer. We're trying to provide the OP with optimal way to cope with the real-life situation. – kubanczyk Dec 16 '18 at 12:08

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