An employee who reports to me is having an affair! Help!
Dear Aunty B,
I have been placed in a very awkward position. My direct report is having an affair with the office manager! They are both married but are too far into the whole thing to care!
They know everyone knows and while they don't talk about it openly, they do pull people aside and ask for advice and then swear them to secrecy. So as you would expect the whole floor is talking about it while pretending nothing is going on!
To make matters worse, one of the wives knows because I opened a group email address and found that she had sent her husband a guide from a magazine on the first steps to end the affair.
But that's not the worst bit. My problem is I have been asked by my boss to tell my direct report to stop it, as it is disrupting the whole office.
I find the idea of doing that terrible. I am friendly with the direct report but we also have a professional distance and it would be very awkward to raise this. When I voiced my concerns to my boss, I was told it was my responsibility as it was affecting her performance. The trouble is that her performance is quite good because as you would expect she spends a lot of time at the office and I think the reason they got together was because they like to discuss the business.
Aunty, what do I do?
Not my problem,
Dear Not my problem,
You are right! It is not your problem! If her performance is up to scratch then it is not your concern. Go and tell your boss that she is performing well and suggest that it be someone else's job (ie. his or hers) to discuss this issue with both of them.
Your boss is getting you to do the dirty work. While you are happy to help out, this is a delicate situation that should be handled sensitively and from the top. In my experience, which is pretty limited to one juicy affair between the accountant and the marketing manager about two decades ago, a drama usually breaks out and one of the parties leaves the building. So I don't expect you will have to put up with it for much longer.
Your Aunty B
Aunty B is currently on holidays sailing the South Pacific and sipping piña coladas, but she will be back soon with fresh advice for your business.
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This article first appeared on October 27th, 2011.