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I lead a small software program firm in a distinct segment trade. Our head of product and I each shared a boss earlier in our careers. I thought-about him a mentor and good friend, however she decidedly didn’t. Years after all of us labored collectively, she shared that the 2 of them had an intimate relationship that didn’t finish amicably. They have been each single and consenting adults, however she was youthful and junior to him. She considers the connection exploitative and unethical. She by no means instructed any superiors again then however is annoyed that he skirted accountability.

Now, our firm has purpose to discover a partnership with our former boss’s new firm. I’ve each purpose to aspect with my worker — our outdated boss’s conduct was inappropriate. But when I’m being sincere, I nonetheless contemplate him to be a great particular person and a worthwhile accomplice. What’s my obligation to my head of product? What’s my obligation to my firm? Ought to I chorus from exploring this new enterprise relationship out of loyalty to her? Ought to I encourage her to hunt closure? If I believe continuing is within the curiosity of the enterprise, how ought to I strategy my relationship with our head of product?

— Nameless

What’s extra vital — growing a brand new enterprise relationship along with your former boss or sustaining a great relationship along with your head of product? You’re obligated to not put her in an uncomfortable scenario and, frankly, to not put junior employees members in a scenario the place they could be exploited by a recognized exploiter. It’s best to chorus from exploring this new enterprise relationship, not merely out of loyalty however as an act of care for each lady in your group. To be clear: Your former boss didn’t commit a criminal offense. Individuals have relationships within the office on a regular basis. However when there may be an imbalance of energy in that relationship, it’s a drawback. Many would argue that what occurred between your former boss and your head of product was a private scenario that ought to not have an effect on your present-day skilled selections. However partaking in a romantic relationship with a subordinate is predatory and unethical. You do not need to do enterprise with somebody is and/or was predatory and unethical. It’s so simple as that, which I believe you already know.


Over the previous couple of years, my supervisor has normalized a peer/good friend dynamic. Co-workers have confided that he falls quick on tasks, which forces others to select up his slack. I’ve sadly began to expertise this whereas collaborating with him carefully on an intense venture. He’s not essentially the most organized or targeted particular person and tends to lean on me and others (largely girls). He’s a supportive, well-intentioned and empathetic particular person, however he has additionally made a behavior of dumping his personal emotional work/private baggage onto me, a few of which crosses boundaries. All of this places me in a troublesome spot as each his direct report and as his “good friend.” I’ve misplaced some belief in him, and I’m being taken benefit of.

I’m reaching some extent the place his wrestle to carry out successfully is immediately impacting and presumably hindering my very own potential progress and alternative for promotion. If I’m candid with my supervisor’s boss, it should probably have a destructive influence on his future right here, due to their contentious relationship. Am I enabling my supervisor’s mediocrity at work by being overly involved with our interpersonal dynamic, slightly than taking steps to carry him accountable?

— Nameless

When the boundaries between skilled and private blur like this, it may be extremely uncomfortable. And because the subordinate on this circumstance, you’re at a grave drawback. Your supervisor has all the facility and you’re offering emotional labor and having to compensate for his skilled shortcomings whereas his points compromise your standing. Sure, you and lots of others are enabling your supervisor’s mediocrity. There isn’t a straightforward method ahead, however have you ever addressed a few of these considerations with him? I might begin there and articulate that it’s too tough to stability your skilled and private relationships and as such, you would like to stay pleasant however skilled. If speaking to him doesn’t assist, then it could be time to speak the skilled points along with your direct supervisor to your supervisor’s boss.

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