My problem is twofold:
1. I have absolutely no rapport or connection with the Partner for whom I work.
2. The Partner overtly favors the associate behind me who has six-months experience.
I am a female, second-year associate at a top-tier firm, and I was recruited laterally from another top firm 12 months ago. The Partner I work for is female, as is the associate behind me.
I have tried over the past year to engage with my boss, but she shuts me down very abruptly every time—to the point I don’t even feel like trying to make small talk with her as she will literally give me a one-word answer and either walk away or go back to reading, writing or checking emailing. I made a very conscious effort when I first started on her team, but after six months of frosty, blunt replies, I admit I have somewhat given up.
As a result, the fractured non-relationship I have with her is impacting my workflows, and I know if I do not do something about it, I will be in serious danger of losing my job. Some weeks if I do not go and say “Hello” to the Partner, I will have no verbal contact with her the entire week. This is contrasted by the many trips she makes down the hall to the other associate’s office, where they laugh and chatter away.
The other associate gets better work than I do, and she gets more of the Partner’s time, better instructions and feedback on her work. In addition, the Partner has gone against firm policy by allowing the other associate leave entitlements that no one else in the firm has available to them—such as five weeks at full pay for a European trip. Meanwhile, I was denied leave for one week to go back to my home state for a family funeral when I had accrued the leave. My boss eventually granted me the leave, but she insisted I had to take it unpaid.
Can you please advise as to what you think I should do to build a better relationship with my boss and suggest some strategies in relation to dealing with the favoritism she shows to other associate?
Okay, so the Partner you work for doesn’t really dig you. Making things worse, she really digs this other, younger associate. Happens all the time. In banking, Hollywood, law, plumbing supply companies… Sometimes you just don’t like someone.
When I was a Partner at a Big Firm, I hated lots of associates. It’s just the way it is. Sadly, there’s not that much you can do about it. It’s like dating—sometimes you click, sometimes you don’t.
But here are some helpful suggestions nonetheless:
1. Try to be a more-productive, self-sufficient associate
Partners like efficient, smart, drama-free associates. The better you are, the more she (and every other partner there) will “like” you. Professionally anyway. When I was a Partner, I always judged associates based on their productivity compared to their personality. If you were smart, it was okay to be slightly annoying. If you weren’t productive, it wasn’t.
2. Begin to network with other partners
Clearly, you need to find greener pastures, so start chatting up other partners in your practice area and try to get involved in their cases/transactions. Be persistent. There has to be a partner somewhere who digs you. If there isn’t? Well, that’s a “you” issue, not a “firm” issue.
3. As for trying to redress the favoritism issue—Don’t
It’s not your issue, sister. Let it go. Focus on points 1 and 2 instead.