Career Advice

November 20, 2013

Career advice: Boss's pet employee really gets my goat

Q: I work in a small, six-person office, and I find the relationship between our manager and this one younger guy in the office really irritating. Basically, they are too close. They hang out together a lot. They go out to lunch together whenever they can. They can often be found quietly chit-chatting about personal issues either in the manager’s office or in my co-worker’s cubicle. I think our manager enjoys having this guy follow him around like a puppy.

Even worse, I don’t get along with my manager that well, and I know he talks about me and other workers with this guy. And the only other full-time employee in our group likes this sycophant, because he strokes her ego with many compliments. I guess I’m not looking for a solution. I am just really annoyed and I need to know if my feelings are legitimate.

A: Legitimate or not, your feelings sound authentic. Unfortunately, being consumed with dislike for this person affects only one person: you. In fact, it sounds as if it may be turning you into an outlier -- a dicey position in such a small group.

Intraoffice chumminess, however grating, is no crime, and teacher’s-pet employees are a common workplace feature. But if this guy is undermining you, that’s a legitimate concern. It’s also something you can address -- for instance, by making sure the boss knows what a good job you’re doing.

That said, if the annoyance is so severe that it’s impossible to set aside, maybe it’s time to consider looking for a position elsewhere. Your feelings may be perfectly legitimate, but wouldn’t you be better off trying to figure out how to make them go away?

Submit questions to Rob Walker at workologist@nytimes.com.

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