Informal Relationship with the Boss

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In the world of work there will always be bosses, supervisors or managers to report to. It is one of the workplace realities. Thus, the relationship with the boss affects the overall work environment and how you feel about your job. It also can be the basis for staying in a job or not. In a situation presented in Case Study 1 a newly hired administrative assistant, Ellen Poppin, is threatened by a possibility of getting involved in an informal relationship with her boss. On the one hand, in most workplaces friendships between supervisors and subordinates are encouraged since healthy relationships have been shown to create a harmonious and productive work environment. According to People at Work Pulse survey, 2004 sixty-five percents of respondents consider it acceptable and common practice to eat out and attend parties together with their boss. On the other hand, the boss-subordinate relationship is a two-way street, and when the degree of informality becomes uncomfortable, it might be a reason for filing a lawsuit of sexual harassment. In this particular situation, Ellen's life outside the office revolves around her husband and two young children, and it's obvious that her supervisor's request to become "better acquainted" during off-business hours is unwelcome. It makes her feel unsafe and most likely prevents her from effectively performing the job. There is no reason for Ellen to accept the lunch invitation just to find out what's going on. In case if all her suspicions are true, it will create a stressful work environment. The best way for Ellen to resolve the problem is to firmly refuse to extend the business relationship to the outside of the workplace. By doing this she would make it clear to the boss that she's not willing to engage in an informal conduct. Being aware of the fact that his invitations are unwelcome and offensive, the supervisor should take the responsibility for this kind of behavior.
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