Handling office romances


Have Cupid’s arrows hit targets on your team? Workplace romances are both a fact of life and a tricky topic for managers. Here’s some advice:

Set expectations, not bound­aries. Instead of laying down the law about what’s appropriate, trust couples to behave professionally. That doesn’t mean to look the other way when you see inappropriate displays of affection. But approach the employees as a counselor, not an enforcer. You may find that when they become part of a romance, some employees become more mature and thoughtful, not less.

Don’t stifle good relationships. Many managers think office romances are inherently distracting and disruptive. Sometimes they are. The challenge is finding a good way for people to work together when they are in love. Make sure partners in romances have to work with other team members, without each other, at least some of the time.

Note: It’s unwise for a supervisor to be romantically linked with a subordinate, and many organizations have a fraternization policy forbidding that practice. Very often, charges of favoritism, harassment and retaliation follow on the heels of those romances that have gone sour.