Not to be confused with office romances, workplace relationships are the informal glue that binds you to a place and a “people.” In this case the “people” being your department, division or company. A reader brought an excellent point to the forefront when he questioned my advice:Comment from “Not your Boss.”
The real crux of the problem is this: should it matter if a male boss asks a female employee to do something social after work? If he asked a male employee on the same social excursion, presumably nothing romantic is intended. Am I saying that all male bosses asking female employees have romantic intentions?
But, it is a tricky path fraught with peril for the female employee. Even if the male boss is simply trying to help the female employee crack the informal power hierarchy, the impression left with the non-participants – i.e. the peoplenothaving the beer (PNHB) after work, better known as the gossip mill – is whatever they want to make of it.
In my experience, the prettier, blonder, smarter, whatever-er the female may be that the PNHB is/are not, the more likely the female employee is to suffer the informal consequences: being shunned for lunch, being left out of conversations, being “accidentally dropped” from the softball team.
It isn’t ever the full frontal attacks that you should fear; it is the subversive attacks of people who will never go anywhere themselves and are determined no one else go anywhere either. You know them as: that workplace “friend” who seemed so happy about your new promotion but 3 weeks later doesn’t have time for you for lunch, the buddy who shares all sorts of private stuff so you end up sharing stuff and the next thing you know the receptionist knows your stuff . . .It sucks.
The subversive jerks are why many companies are sick from the inside out . . . but that is for another article.
There are real economic consequences to women opening up in the office environment. Men too. I’m not male; I can’t speak from that place. We’ll get in to that in workplace relationships part II.
HERE’S THE REAL POINT: it really is not about male VERSUS female, it is about the culture of your peers. The more peers who are losers, the more likely you are to suffer consequences of the male boss/female employee conundrum. If you are a super star, don’t go work with losers. Remember that when you are interviewing. Interview the employees you’ll work with just as rigorously as you are getting interviewed – it is worth it. A work environment filled with dynamic folks can’t be beat.
Have at least one big corporate job, but after that . . .