My Boss Favors My Coworker. Can I Do Anything?

A reader question:

So I started working as a dog washer in March, with my goal to become a groomer. If you wash 200 dogs, you get moved up to the “academy,” where you will begin your grooming training. Groom 200 dogs, then you move up to commission grooming. From there, you can be a salon leader or just groom with commission.

I feel my salon leader is either singling me out or just not interested in me learning. Another girl started at the same time as me, and the salon leader is really focused on her learning, making sure she reaches 200 dog washes, making sure her workbook is ready, and just pretty much facilitating her learning. And for me, she doesn’t do that. She gave me a performance medium performance rating, which I disagreed with.

She asked me to cover a shift this Friday, but she said she doesn’t want me washing dogs she wants me to focus on helping the other girl get her dogs washed and if I have any dogs to give them to her cause she needs her to start academy soon. I feel like crap. I feel like I’m being looked over like I don’t do anything right even tho I have the highest sales, the highest rating in customer reviews. Also, she has me wash and dry her and the other groomers’ dogs a lot, and she doesn’t count them as mine, and I just don’t know what to do. I’m afraid to talk to the district leader because I’m afraid of retaliation. Also, I didn’t mention this, but the girl who started simultaneously as me is friends with the salon leader, and I feel that’s why she’s facilitating her learning. What can I do? 

My first question: What does retaliation look like? Because if what you said is accurate, the salon leader is already treating your horribly. You have all the work, none of the credit, and no hope of moving up. (Although, to be fair, it’s only April, so it’s not like you’ve been there for six months.

Your boss wants to promote your coworker because they are friends. Do you think that it’s possible that once this girl is promoted that she’ll treat you properly? My bet is no, but if you do, then it’s worth sticking it out and get past this hump.

Because I don’t think time will solve this problem–it’s necessary for your manager to believe that her friend is better than you to justify favoring her.

But, the first step with solving any problem with another individual* is addressing this person individually. So, ask to speak to your boss privately.

Don’t be accusatory, but be factual. “Jane, I am working hard toward getting my 200 washes in so I can join the grooming academy. Some of the washes I do aren’t getting counted, and it’s slowing me down. What can I do to make sure I get credit for all the washes I do?”

She will probably avoid the direct confrontation and say, “oh, you get credit.” Then point out, “I washed the dogs for Steve, Tiffany, and Alice yesterday, and none of them counted toward my total. Shall I write a list?”

Because she’ll likely be super defensive about her friend, it’s best to leave the friend out of it.

This may solve the problem because you’ll be very clear that you know you’re doing more work than you are getting credit for. But, I also think it won’t, because a manager who is either this clueless or this biased won’t acknowledge what’s happening.

The next step is going to your district manager. Explain your predicament without attacking. This is so difficult, but it goes over better. “I’m working very hard to get my 200 washes in so I can go to the grooming academy, but Jane frequently counts those washes toward someone else. What can I do? I’ve already spoken to Jane.”

A good district manager will ask more questions and then speak to Jane and make sure she doesn’t retaliate. A bad district manager will either ignore you or yell at Jane and then not protect you.

The problem is, I don’t know what kind of district manager you have.

The other option is to leave. If you’ve truly got the stats you have, perhaps another store in the region will be interested in having you transfer.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magical fix to a bad boss. I wish there were.

*This advice does not apply to someone abusive or dangerous.

Image by Nathalie Heuvel from Pixabay

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3 thoughts on “My Boss Favors My Coworker. Can I Do Anything?

  1. I want to add – DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT. Keep a log of shift, hours, and work performed. Then you have records to back up your position.

    1. Anne said it–after you became good and were washing the dogs by yourself, (it sounds like you have a very good relationship with the individual animals) you should have been documenting every animal you wash, including taking a picture of you with the dog being bathed. But I would also recommend that you start looking for a new position–Petsmart and Petco offer the service too–but I think you want to learn how to groom the dog properly which is a learned technique. (I have been watching the show Pooch Perfect) and it is similar to learning how to cut hair at beauty school. Try having a discussion, after you have documented every dog you wash for a week and backtrack the weeks. This owner must have records of when every dog comes in–dogs that get groomed are repeat customers.

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