When Your Boss Dates a Co-Worker
By Monster Career Coach
Around four months ago a colleague I work with, let’s call her Naomi, started dating our boss. At first they kept it hush-hush. That was fine because it didn’t really affect me or the rest of the staff.
Lately they have gotten more public about it. They flirt a lot during office hours. All those steamy glances and whispered words to each other are making, me and the team, uncomfortable; of course, gossip is spreading fast around them throughout the office.
Two weeks ago our boss took Naomi to a dinner meeting with our biggest client. Normally I’d be the one asked to go as she doesn’t even work on that side of the business. Then she didn’t show up the next day, and I was asked to handle her files. Fine, I remained a team player and above all, professional.
This morning the two of them had a spat. Naomi stormed out of his office beet red and fuming. Both Naomi and my boss were in a very bad mood the rest of the day and it was a little difficult to approach them for follow-ups and work related issues. Was it a lover’s quarrel? All I can say is that before they started dating, things were calm and my job was going great. Should I complain about them?
Signed: Vexed in Vancouver
No one likes to be on the losing end of favouritism. It can be especially trying in an office romance between a boss and subordinate. Your own competence and loyalty play second fiddle to canoodling.
Before running off to report this Cupid coupling (presumably to HR or a senior manager), ask yourself these four important questions.
1. Is it Prohibited Behaviour?
Your employer may have policies in place about dating between personnel. The intent is to prevent sexual harassment and reduce office disruptions.
Check to see if manager-subordinate romances are allowed. If so, are there any special rules that apply? For instance, some companies insist that one of the involved parties must transfer to a different division, if possible. That way potential conflicts of interest can be minimized.
2. Does it Seriously Impact my Job?
You’ve said that your boss is starting to deal with you differently. That’s a troubling sign. A supervisor shouldn’t be able to cut you out of the loop or dump extra work on you, just to further their romantic pursuit.
But you need to show a pattern of unacceptable behaviour. Are you being asked to cover for your colleague often? Is the couple having arguments that prevent you from concentrating?
3. What if it Weren’t a Romantic Relationship?
There are many ways to become the boss’s pet. Dating them is just one. People use all sorts of methods to gain their supervisor’s favour.
Being an outstanding employee helps. So does providing your supervisor with sufficient support. Schmoozing with them and stroking their ego doesn’t hurt either.
Anyone can do those things, not just the subordinate your boss is courting. So be clear about why your colleague is now getting special treatment. If she were noticeably incompetent or unqualified, you’d have a much stronger case.
4. Should I Risk Meddling?
Weigh the risks and rewards of getting further involved. It may be that minding your own business is the better route for now. See if the smoldering love burns itself out quickly.
Meanwhile avoid being a gossiper. Griping and rumour-mongering can come back to bite you.
Prepare Yourself for Action
As the situation unfolds, keep track of being unfairly treated by your boss or colleague. You may need to escalate the matter if it gets bad enough.
Eventually you might choose to find a better place to work – preferably where merit is rewarded before marriage potential.