‘Boss hav­ing af­fair with ju­nior, and she has be­come bossy’

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Business -

Ques­tion: My boss is hav­ing an af­fair with a ju­nior col­league in the com­pany. He of­fers her priv­i­leges which oth­ers don’t get, such as be­ing present in in­ter­ac­tions with the top man­age­ment from the head of­fice. She tries to dom­i­nate ev­ery­one in of­fice and talks neg­a­tively about us be­hind our backs. How does one han­dle such a tricky sit­u­a­tion?

Ab­hi­jit Bhaduri replies: n one of the or­gan­i­sa­tions where I worked, a se­nior di­rec­tor from marketing and a col­league from fi­nance (de­part­ments changed) an­nounced their mar­riage. Ev­ery­one was taken by sur­prise. The nor­mally ac­tive grapevine had not no­ticed any­thing amiss about their be­hav­iour at work.

Some com­pa­nies ac­tively en­cour­age the chil­dren of em­ploy­ees to seek op­por­tu­ni­ties in the firm. Oth­ers have a stated pol­icy that dis­cour­ages hir­ing “rel­a­tives” of em­ploy­ees — un­der such a sce­nario, one of the em­ploy­ees has to quit. Or­gan­i­sa­tions do this to avoid con­flict of in­ter­est, es­pe­cially when one per­son is in a po­si­tion of in­flu­ence.

Some­times, as part of a high­po­ten­tial em­ployee’s de­vel­op­ment plan, the per­son is given an opportunit­y for meet­ings with se­nior lead­ers in the firm. Such an em­ployee may be nom­i­nated to a high-pro­file leadership de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme as a way to pre­pare for the next role.

Most or­gan­i­sa­tions do not make a for­mal an­nounce­ment of their high­po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees list. Ac­cess to se­nior leadership or be­ing men­tored may be seen like favouritis­m, un­less some­one is in the know.

IBe­ing friendly with a col­league is not il­le­gal. What some­one de­scribes as flir­ta­tious be­hav­iour may not ap­pear so to oth­ers. Our per­cep­tions are of­ten the re­sult of our bi­ases and norms based on our moral code.

What two adults de­cide to do out­side the work­place is their choice. It, how­ever, gets com­pli­cated when your boss is in a po­si­tion of in­flu­ence. If the ju­nior col­league is in the chain of com­mand of your boss, it is cer­tainly a matter of concern.

You could lodge a for­mal com­plaint with the HR de­part­ment with a copy to your man­ager’s boss. This will bring the matter to ev­ery­one’s no­tice. The HR de­part­ment may launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion to find out whether your man­ager is violating a work­place norm. Af­ter all, when it

comes to mat­ters of the heart, it is hard to stay ra­tional. So, wait for the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ab­hi­jit Bhaduri is a dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion ad­viser and coach to or­gan­i­sa­tions across the world.

He led HR teams at Wipro, Mi­crosoft, Pep­siCo and Col­gate

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