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Socializing with the boss?

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Question: I work for a small social services nonprofit. I am the No. 2 person in the organization, with only the director over me.

As the senior case manager, I supervise the case manager under me. She and our boss have similar personalities and, lately, have started doing some after-hours socializing. Several of these instances have involved her being invited, by our boss, to events outside of work hours, but that provide many networking opportunities.

Although I don't know why I haven't been asked to attend any of these events, I suspect that it's because I am a single parent with two small children. (Both my boss and the girl I supervise are single and childless.)

I may or may not attend these functions if invited, but I'm uncomfortable with the situation. I feel it's appropriate for the boss to be socializing with an employee, and I'm afraid that this relationship may affect MY position at work negatively.

I could use some suggestions about handling this situation.

Thanks!  -- Christy


Our company is much larger, about 75 persons, and we have a code of conduct issued to all staff. Part of the conduct is managers/doctors are not permitted to "party" with the other staff, a part of the reason is to avoid the situation you are in currently. As a manager your staff should not feel like they are competing for your attention socially but should strive at work and then receive recognition. As a manager you should also want to remain a professional figure for your staff. As a small company and the fact that you are dealing with what I assume to be the owner, your situation is difficult. I would try your best to continue to strive at your workplace and ignore their outside relationship and if at review time you are not properly recognized and compensated then I would take your expeirence and go elsewhere. Don't let it affect you mentally, but do not let them affect your position either. If he starts to treat her differently at work, like letting her bend the rules etc., I would leave. If not, I would stay. Hey, one day one of them will marry and have kids and this situation will not even exisit.

Since you mentioned the both of them are single, maybe they aren't inviting you because they are "interested" in one another. Just a thought.

If you are working at a non-profit there should still be some operating procedures to go by and a board of directors. This seems too much of a law suit waiting to happen. If the boss is going to socialize with the other employees then he/she needs to make sure all are invited and its in a very neutrual surroundings, otherwise problems will arise. Have you spoken to her about this, if not then it may be time to do so? What will happen if this person gets mad over something

I disagree with Jocelyn and Jo. Socializing after work, with peers and superiors, is a normal part of many office cultures. In social services, socializing and "de-pressurizing" seem to be especially important to many people. When I worked in social services, I always thought certain things were not "fair" because your whole life is about justice and equality for all, but now that I work in a corporation, I realize that office politics are part of the job. Or they should be, if you want anything to change.

Doy you want the opportunity to network at these events?
Are the events you would like to be invited to work-related or social? If they are in a work context, you could probably ask to attend without awkwardness. If they are social, you are going to have to be more socially involved with your boss if you expect to be invited. Invite the boss and the case manager out. Pay attention. You will get a better grasp of their relationship and they will see that you want to socialize too and maybe get to know you on a more personal level. You can then find out about the social events you wish to attend and figure out the best way to proceed.

Or do you just want to "break-up" their relationship?
I would recommend getting over it. This is life. If, and when, it negatively affects your job, then you can bring it up to your boss in that context. But you'd better have specifics.

You know the old saying "You can pick your friends, but not your relatives"? Well..., in the case of co-workers and friends, perhaps the same thing applies. There are lots of people I work with and for who I probably wouldn't "click" with in a social setting - and vice versa. I don't worry about it, or expect to be invited to their social functions. Once in a while I find someone at the office who I do share similar interests with and want to get to know better. In that case, I will ask them to go to lunch, etc. and let the relationship progress. Other than that, I make my friends outside of the office and don't concern myself with the social lives of my co-workers. If as a single parent all you do is work and take care of your kids, then you might see being excluded from your co-workers social activities as a slight. If, on the other hand, you make your own friends and fun outside of the office, you will be less likely to be affected by your co-workers relationship outside of the office. My advice would be, unless there is blatant partiality or prejudice toward you going on in the office, don't look for trouble. Just take care of your own social life.

I've been interested in reading the comments. In reference to the comments posted by Jocelyn & Amy, they are both women and one of them is involved, just not married. How interesting that in our culture we still hear "boss" and assume "man". Thanks to Jocelyn & Jo for the great comments. I don't think that "office politics" should be a part of the job...positive job performance should be all that's considered. And the question wasn't about a desire to socialize or make was about an unfair distribution of networking opportunities, which can seriously affect a career. This is ethical, not personal.

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