Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.
By Alison Green / Ask a Manager
October 5, 2016

Q: How can I tell my boss that people are gossiping about him dating a contractor at our firm? I want to prevent anything bad from happening to him or to our team even though my employer has no issues with employees doing this.

I’m currently working on a project that’s comprised of about half employees and half contractors from a well-known consulting firm. I found out a while ago that my manager, “Jack,” is dating one of the contractors, “Audrey.” He didn’t tell me himself. I had lunch more than a year ago with someone who works on another team, “Chloe,” who also interacts with Audrey for another project, and she told me they were dating.

Chloe told me Jack and Audrey have let both of their respective managers and HR know they are dating each other, but apparently they don’t want anyone else involved on my project knowing this. Unlike these other couples, they’ve never said a word to anyone on our team. They behave as if they barely know each other when we’re in the office.

A number of contractors on the project rolled off a few weeks back. Audrey is still here on our team. Since this downsizing, three people on my team have separately told me about the “juicy gossip” they’ve recently heard through the grapevine. Each time, it’s been the same juicy gossip that I already know about Jack and Audrey. It turns out that one of the recent departing members figured that since she was leaving, she could reveal all the secrets she knew without personally facing any consequences. As a result, I believe everyone on the team now knows they’re dating.

Is there any good way to tell him this? Or should I just continue to keep my mouth shut, and tell my three coworkers there’s nothing inappropriate going on here?

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A: Move along, nothing to see here.

I don’t think there’s any reason to alert your boss that people know that he and Audrey are dating. This isn’t scandalous gossip — presumably neither of them are cheating on other people, and they’re not in a manager/employee relationship where this would be inappropriate*, and your company apparently knows about it and is fine with it. So there’s no damaging scandal here. If there were, you might have more of an obligation to give Jack a heads-up — but there’s not.

You don’t have to be involved in this at all! And in fact, it’s better not to. There’s no reason for you to have an awkward conversation with Jack or to involve yourself at all. If coworkers mention it to you in the future, just say “It’s not really any of our business” or “I’m sure if they wanted to share that they, would” and change the subject.

Consider this permission to ignore this entirely.

* I’m a little unclear about whether he hires and has authority over the consultants and thus Audrey or whether he’s one of multiple managers involved in this project. If it’s the former, I don’t think that’s super appropriate, but apparently your company explicitly allows that.

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Q: My manager takes credit for my work

I work for a small company with only three full-time employees, so things can get quite hectic at times for my supervisor, Jane. She often gives me projects that our customers and sales reps request from her and that she is too busy to work on.

Every time that I work on these projects, Jane tells me to bring my finished work into her office so that she can “take care of the rest.” After checking my work, she tells me how great everything looks and how she is so thankful that my work is generally mistake-free, so she does not have to fix anything.

Then she proceeds to send my finished work to the customer and their sales rep and claim it as her own. She cc’s me on these emails, and the body of the email usually says something along the lines of, “Please see attached my work on X, Y, and Z.” Subsequently, the customer and/or sales reps will email Jane back and say something like, Thank you so much, Jane, for all your help completing this project for us.”

I am completing 100% of the work on my own, from start to finish. I know that Jane trusts my work, so I wish she would just allow me to send the project over to our customers on my own, without her intervening and taking credit.

Am I being petty about this, or would it be appropriate to bring up this ongoing issue with Jane?

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A: It’s not all that unusual for managers not to give specific credit to contributors when sending work to clients, since most of the time clients don’t really care about the specifics of who did it; they just care that it’s done well. But saying “please see my work” is explicitly taking credit for something she didn’t do; typically a manager would at least say “our work” in this context.

I think you’re entitled to be annoyed by that; it’s grating to me just reading about it. But whether it’s worth saying something about depends on what the impact is on you. If you’re trying to build a reputation with these particular customers, and it would be a significant help to you if they knew about your contributions, then yes, say something. Or if these were high-profile projects inside or outside your company, then getting credit would have real career benefits to you, so in those cases you’d absolutely want to speak up. But if — as is often the case — it doesn’t actually have a real impact and is just irritating, I’d probably let it go, in favor of saving your capital with Jane for something else.

These questions are adapted from ones that originally appeared on Ask a Manager. Some have been edited for length.

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