Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Temptation in the Office

I'm submitting this question anonymously because, for obvious reasons, I don't want my identity known.

I'm a manager in a pretty high profile firm. I manage a fair number of employees; a few of them are cute young women. I guess you can hear my dilemma: I'm a healthy, decent-looking, straight male who's attracted to one of these women in particular. As her manager, I have a lot of contact with her.

"Professional flirting" (if there is such a thing) is common between us. Joking, a little touching, leaning into each other, that sort of thing. So far, I've resisted the urge to go any further even though the opportunity has presented itself on days when we're alone in the office after five.

What can I say... the flesh is weak and I can see the handwriting on the wall if I don't figure something out. I know it would be wrong to act on any of my temptations but I don't know how much longer I can resist. I'm not married so I wonder if maybe I should just go for it. But then what would happen if/when it didn't work out. Any suggestions?

by Susan Ireland

It sounds to me as if this is lust, not love. If I’m right about that, then you have no business getting involved with your subordinate. You need to transfer your sexual desire away from her and express it outside your workplace with someone else or in some other appropriate way. And do it soon, before this gets out of control!

There are two reasons you don’t want to touch this woman:
1. Office affairs can interfere with productivity and complicate company politics, as described in Pitfalls of Office Romance.
2. You could be accused of sexual harassment, which could have legal implications depending on the country and state you work in.

Look ahead to the consequences you could bring on yourself and your company. Your company could suffer legal expenses and embarrassment that would likely lead to you’re being fired for cause. Your career history would be marred with “fired for office affair.” Good luck mending that professional profile!

If you can’t resist going after this woman, find a new position for yourself in a different branch or even at a different company.

Most important, consider getting help with a professional counselor so this won’t happen again, as I’m sure you’ll run into more pretty girls at work before you retire. Learn how to separate your personal “emotions” from your professional life. Lots of people are attracted to the opposite sex at work, but not all of them fall prey to their attractions. Doing so almost always hurts both people involved in the affair. Remember, your advances toward this young woman could hurt her career as well as yours.

Plain and simple: DON’T DO IT!

For more sound advice on this subject, read Rules of Office Romance.

Job Lounger, do you have a question? Email (joblounge@aol.com) it to me and I’ll post your question and an expert’s answer here in The Job Lounge.

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