Over dinner tonight, one of the guests was describing herself as her boss's favorite employee, and asked for a term to describe this. As the only guest who spoke English as a first language, the question fell on me, but I could not think of any such term. Is there one? It would be similar to "teacher's pet" to describe a teacher's favorite student, but in the professional realm. "Boss's pet" just doesn't seem to fit.
... the problem that managers may favour their blue-eyed boys
2004, Jonathan Stroud, The Golem's Eye,
"Keep it up, Mandrake," he said. "Just keep it up. You may be the Prime Minister's blue-eyed boy now, but how long's that going to last if you don't deliver?"
Neutral or positive connotations:
- star employee (this may be closest to "teacher's pet")
- protege (if the boss is nurturing the employee in some way)
- golden boy
Some of the terms suggested here (like "brown-noser") describe someone who is attempting to gain this status, but not all brown-nosers succeed. So a manager's favorite employee might or might not be a brown-noser, but being a brown-noser doesn't ensure that you're the favorite.
I think this person could describe themselves as the darling of the boss:
O.E. deorling "darling, favorite minion"
I would actually use the term "minion", which is defined as a servile follower or subordinate of a person in power; a favored or highly regarded person.
"Highly favored or regarded person" is kind of similar to a "teacher's pet" although it isn't using incorrect terminology to describe the people involved.
Off the top of my head I can't think of many terms of endearment for the type of person you describe, let alone how such a person would describe oneself, but perhaps "Right hand man" is appropriate.
Although your guest wouldn't wish to refer to herself as any of the below, the following terms can be used disparagingly to refer to the kind of person you describe.
A few that immediately spring to mind are:
- Brown Noser
- Boot Licker
And the more coarse
- Arse Licker
- Butt Kisser