I´m sure everyone has heard or read about the fall of Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher due to ethics violations rising out of an office tryst. Here´s a link to yesterday´s article in the Seattle PI.
We have seen so many smart people get into all kinds of hot water because of an office romance. What should we learn from this?
1. Don´t think, "I am smart, I can handle this."?? Love (or lust) and logic don´t go to the same parties.
2. Don´t think, "We can keep it cool and no one will know."?? Assume people will find out. They do.
3. Don´t think, "If we only go out a couple times and then don´t hit it off, it will be fine to work with this person. We are both adults."?? If the relationship goes sour, it WILL be weird at the least, and may be intolerable. Few can completely rationalize their feelings away.
I take a pretty firm line on office romances:
If you are a manager/leader, don´t get involved with someone at work unless your company is large enough that you and your new honey have no business dealings or influence over one another (even so, I wouldn´t). And if one of you is over the other in the hierarchy (even by many levels), then it is never professional.
I have had to deal with many of these situations (in my HR days), some that got real ugly. Otherwise intelligent and talented people lose their jobs.
If you think you have met your soul-mate at work, then one of you should do the right thing and find a job at another company.
People have said to me, "You can´t regulate what people do on their personal time."?? That´s true, but if you are in a management position, getting intimately involved with a coworker or subordinate impacts your ability to manage objectively and diminishes your professional relationships. And this is very much my business.
Even under the best circumstances, office relationships change the workplace. For example, people may wonder whether they can talk openly around one person for fear of it getting to the other (pillow talk).
And one last thing while I am on my box:
If you are in a senior leadership role, say VP or above, SHAME on you if you get involved in an office relationship! Beyond all the other things I said, you have a responsibility to act in the best interest of the company (all managers do, but particularly senior folks). Regardless of what you think about Boeing or Stonecipher, the company does not deserve the negative ramifications that will certainly occur because its CEO broke professional ranks. His poor personal judgment may cost the company millions. (BTW, I think she was wrong as well, but I always hold the person higher up in the food chain more responsible because I expect more from him or her in terms of acting in the company´s best interests.)
OK, sermon over. What do you think?
Have a nice weekend.