Being the Boss Means You Can Do What You Want (But That's Not Always Advisable)
One of the reasons entrepreneurs start their own businesses is that they are tired of being told what to do. The flip side though, is that once you hire your first employer, you become responsible for your employees. There are a lot of things you can do that you should not do. For instance, you should not have an affair with any of your employees. When you're the big boss, you need to find romance outside of the office. What happens when a boss breaks this rule? A reader writes:
I have worked for two years in a California company and was an excellent employee. I had no problems with anyone until recently. The boss, who is married, started an affair with a co-worker. What they do off the clock is their business, when it affects the office that's what got to me. There was complete lack of trying to hide the relationship. She would click in late everyday and go straight to his office and close the door for an hour. She would post on social media when they had outings and brag about him taking her shopping. Other employees were written up for being late 5 minutes (not me) and she could make her own schedule and come and go as she pleased. He made a contest for the office and I won. He stated that she won! When I asked how he said to stop having attitude. I wasn't. He cursed at me and said I was a problem. He then fired me.
I'm going to take this reader at her word, that she was a good employee, and now she's gone. Why? Because this boss couldn't control his hormones. Now, let's be clear. The law doesn't generally prohibit such behavior. You may think that this violates sexual discrimination laws, but those laws only prohibit discrimination based on gender. In a situation such as this, the employee was fired not because she's female, because she challenged the boss. Perfectly legal. Perfectly dumb, as well.
Bosses, listen up. Behaving like this can destroy your business. Destroy. Here's how.
You lose great employees. In this particular case, a great employee was fired. But, other good employees will quit. In fact, your best employees will quit once you start down the sleazy path. They can easily find new jobs where there is less drama.
Your employees stop trusting you. If you're openly cheating on your spouse, your employees know that you are not trustworthy at all. I know, lots of people argue that sex is different than the rest of life. It's not. If you give into temptation in that area, your employees will assume you'll give into temptation in other areas of your life. Can you trust that a boss will be fair in an evaluation? Can you trust that a boss will be fair with your paycheck? This is a huge black mark on you, and when your employees don't trust you, they won't be as dedicated to your business.
This costs you money. In this case, the love interest is not only a rotten employee, but wasting your work time. What aren't you doing because you're "busy" in your office? What things are you letting slide? I'm all for work life balance, but this tips the scales too far to be good for business.
It causes emotional problems. Your own emotional problems, that is. Sooner or later, either this relationship will collapse, or the marriage will collapse, or (most likely) both. Entrepreneurs are under tremendous pressure anyway. You do not need the emotional problems involved in trying to balance a spouse and an affair.
Being unmarried doesn't solve these problems. The boss in this case is married, but you can cause similar problems even if you are unmarried, or even if you marry your office fling. When you start mixing romance, you tend to favor your partner. This is one of the beauties of love, but it doesn't bode well for office fairness. When you start favoring one person because of hormones rather than merit, things do not go well.
If you've had (or been) a bad boss, send me an email at EvilHRLady@gmail.com.
SUZANNE LUCAS | Columnist
Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.