“Teacher’s Pet”

You may recognize this species: A person who can do no wrong no matter how much wrong he or she does. A person who has the ear of the boss no matter how busy the boss is. A person who tries to fit in with coworkers in spite of the fact that no one trusts her.

This description is remarkably similar to that of a teacher’s pet, except this is the adult version.

I’ve seen many variations of this prototype among my clients, and will share three. In variation #1, the CEO is well aware of the games this person plays, but doesn’t want to deal with the severe discomfort that is likely to happen by disentangling the relationship.

Variation #2 happens when one boss favors an employee while another boss feels differently. The outcome of this inherent conflict is that the employee is treated as “protected” while the other boss stews about it. (I’ve seen this play out when the immediate manager does not favor the employee, but the manager’s boss does.)

Variation #3 is the extreme version of my original description. It can be a high-performing employee who has cleverly persuaded the boss that not only is he is indispensable, but he also snitches about his coworkers.

Charming, isn’t it?

If any of these scenarios seem even remotely like something going on in your workplace, I recommend that you seek the counsel of a trusted advisor to give you some objective feedback and help in unraveling it.

The boss doesn’t necessarily want to hear the truth. She may give lip service to it, but won’t do anything to make changes.

As a leader, it’s important to transcend the discomfort and face these situations directly. Of course, you can still value high-performing employees, but don’t fall into the trap of gossiping with them. Everyone else knows what’s going on, so you’re not fooling anyone.

Not only do your employees not trust the tattler, they don’t trust the boss. Is that something you want?

Have a great week!


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