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

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