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Send your questions and concerns to Dr. Marie McIntyre. Marie has more than 20 years experience in coaching, human resources, and management.  She writes the syndicated column “Your Office Coach”, which appears in more than 70 newspapers nationwide. Marie has authored two books and serves as a workplace expert for the National Institute of Business Management.  (Due to high volume, not all questions can be answered, but Marie will respond to as many as possible. Your question may be reprinted online or in the newspaper column unless you request otherwise.)

Coaching Q&A

Our boss may be romantically involved with a new employee.

As a long-term employee in a family-owned business, I’m concerned about two people who may be having an affair. Although I have no definite proof, I’ve been told by a reliable source that the president of our company is in a sexual relationship with “Jessica”, our new sales director.

Ever since Jessica arrived, the sales department has had constant promotions, demotions, and terminations. Employees are confused because everything seems to be changing from the way it was previously done. Also, this company has never had a woman manager before.

Now people are upset because Jessica supposedly terminated an employee for raising questions about her relationship with the president. All this gossip is creating a lot of turmoil, so I would like to help calm things down. What’s the best way to do this?

Marie’s Answer

During high-change periods, the grapevine always runs rampant. If Jessica and her boss are immersed in planning the sales reorganization, their frequent meetings could have given rise to these rumors, especially since female managers are apparently an anomaly there.

But regardless of whether an affair is actually in progress, incessant gossip creates an unhealthy distraction, so your desire to help is admirable. If your lengthy tenure has created a trusting relationship with the president, one option is to have a non-accusatory “advisory” talk without prying into his personal life.

For example: “Although this is an uncomfortable subject, I thought I should tell you about some gossip that has employees upset. People have been speculating about your relationship with Jessica, so the rumor is that Bob got fired for saying you were having an affair. I’m not asking you about this, but I wanted you to know what’s being said.”

The president can then decide how to act on this information. But if your relationship with him is not that close, perhaps a family member or human resources manager would be willing to deliver the news. Of course, you can always help by refusing to participate in this unfounded speculation and strongly advising others to do the same.

NOTE: Questions on this page have been edited for length, grammar, and confidentiality.  All material on this website is copyrighted to Marie G. McIntyre.  All rights reserved.

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Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D.

Marie McIntyre has more than twenty years’ experience in career coaching and organizational development. She has held management positions in both business and government, including Director of Human Resources in a Fortune 500 company.

Marie writes the weekly syndicated advice column, “Your Office Coach”, which appears in newspapers throughout the U.S. & Canada.  She also writes a monthly Career Commentary for CNBC.com and serves as a workplace expert for Business Management Daily.  Marie conducts webinars on a variety of topics related to leadership development and career success.

As a consultant, Marie has assisted a wide variety of organizations, including Cisco, The Home Depot, Tyson Foods, the Federal Reserve, AT&T, Walgreens, Macy’s, and Habitat for Humanity. She has experience in working with business, government, and non-profit groups.

Marie is the author of two books, “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics” &“The Management Team Handbook”.  She is frequently quoted in business publications, including Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.