Quick story from the Capitalist.
It's early in my career, and there I am one night - trying to outwork what I don't know as a young professional. I'm in the office about 930pm (no one else there, humblebrag), doing work for a VP level partner who had taken me under his wing. I'm heading back from the restroom, where I have to go the edge of the elevator corridor to hit the main doors of our office and there it was.
The president of our division (mid 50's) getting into the elevator with a mid-20's administrative assistant from a department managed by one of his direct reports. Meh. Like a pro, I kept moving and acted like I saw nothing. It never came up.
Of course, it doesn't mean they were heading to a Holiday Inn Express or had just treated his office as the same. But c'mon, he was kind of a sleeze towards women and they didn't really have any reason to be connected for work.
In case you missed it, McDonald's has fired CEO Steve Easterbrook over his relationship with another employee, according to a press release from the company over the weekend. McDonald’s shares sank 2.3% in premarket at 10 a.m. in London, or 5 a.m. ET, which could wipe about $3.4 billion off the company’s value.
McDonald's had been in a period of success under the leadership of Easterbrook. Now, it's thrown into a period of turmoil and 3.4B is gone. Crazy.
Seems like a good time to set up some rules for office romance. Note that these rules don't apply to everyone - if you're a rank and file employee, you do you. No, these rules of office romance are for managers of people only - let's face it - you're different, the stakes are higher and there are special rules for you.
Here's your 4 Rules of Office/Company Romance If You're a Manager of People:
1--Never date someone who reports to you. This seems obvious, and they'll be some who email stories of lifelong romances that started this way. I hear you. I'm glad you found love in all the wrong places. For everyone else, especially in the time of #metoo, it's a bet - your job/career vs your rationalization that your "in-team" romance is going to lead to Mr./Mrs. Right.
2--Don't date someone in the company (on someone's else's team) if you're a manager of people inside a company with less than 250 employees. That number is a bit random, but it feels right. The standard line will be don't have a relationship with someone on your team, but people on other teams might be OK. Key word is "might". The bigger the company, the more conflicts with people on other teams won't be a problem. Get below 250 people in your company (and certainly in companies with 100 or less employees), and you might as well be dating someone on your team.
3--The bigger your job, the less latitude you have to date people in your company. It's called leadership, and your decision to reach down 2-3 levels in your division to find love and companionship looks weak and sleazy. We thought you were the one to lead this (business unit, division, location, company), now we've got people talking about how much time Jan is speaking time in your office. Unfair? Maybe. That's burden is what the money is for.
4--Report any relationship to HR and consider getting acknowledgements and waivers signed. So here we are - you're in a relationship in the company, and you've had the wisdom to drop by HR and let them know. Without knowing what policies you have on this, I can tell you you've done the right thing. As a manager of people, you need to transfer the ticking time bomb of office romance to the HR team. What will they do? Probably nothing - but disclosing the relationship means you were above-board and sought counsel on the right way to proceed.
5--(Bonus) - Don't be sleazy or give people the creepers as you consider office romances. Or just don't even consider it as a leader/manager of people, maybe?
Welcome to the show, kid. You're a manager of people, and when it comes to office romance, managers of people get treated differently. You have more power than you think you do, and with that in mind, there are rules.
It's not show friends, it's show business.