Sunday, 15 July 2018

Office Coach: Alleged affair in the office feeds gossip mill

Office Coach: Alleged affair in the office feeds gossip mill
29 Jun

Q: As a long-term employee in a family-owned business, I’m concerned about two people who may be having an affair. Although I have no definite proof, I’ve been told by a reliable source that the president of our company is in a sexual relationship with “Jessica,” our new sales director.

Ever since Jessica arrived, the sales department has had constant promotions, demotions and terminations. Employees are confused because everything seems to be changing from the way it was previously done. Also, this company has never had a woman manager before.

Now people are upset because Jessica supposedly terminated an employee for raising questions about her relationship with the president. All this gossip is creating a lot of turmoil, so I would like to help calm things down. What’s the best way to do this?

A: During high-change periods, the grapevine always runs rampant. If Jessica and her boss are immersed in planning the sales reorganization, their frequent meetings could have given rise to these rumors, especially since female managers are apparently an anomaly.

But regardless of whether an affair is actually in progress, incessant gossip creates an unhealthy distraction, so your desire to help is admirable. If your lengthy tenure has created a trusting relationship with the president, one option is to have a non-accusatory “advisory” talk without prying into his personal life.

For example: “Although this is an uncomfortable subject, I thought I should tell you about some gossip that has employees upset. People have been speculating about your relationship with Jessica, so the rumor is that Bob got fired for saying you were having an affair. I’m not asking you about this, but I wanted you to know what’s being said.”

The president can then decide how to act on this information. But if your relationship with him is not that close, perhaps a family member or human resources manager would be willing to deliver the news. Of course, you can always help by refusing to participate in this unfounded speculation and strongly advising others to do the same.

Q: My team will soon begin reporting to a manager in the United States, and I hope to make a good impression on him. Previously, we have always had a local boss. Several colleagues have decided to leave, but I like this company and plan to stay. I’m an average performer who just wants to have a secure job. What should I do?

A: Start by learning as much as possible about your new boss’ background and your company’s U.S. operations. Since you are accustomed to local supervision, you should also realize that different countries frequently have different leadership practices. A good resource for understanding these variations is “The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer.

Regardless of cultural differences, discussing expectations with a new boss is always wise, because every manager has individual preferences, habits and quirks. Take time to clarify such things as the kind of information he wants and how he prefers to communicate.

Finally, as an “average” employee, you must try to improve your performance level as much as possible. To increase job security, that’s the most important thing you can do.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.” Send in questions and get free coaching tips at On Twitter @officecoach.


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