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Management Masterclass

By Christine Hayhurst, Chartered Management Instituteexternal link

Contact us for advice on your problems at work.

Q: "I've just begun a relationship with a senior colleague in my office, but I'm worried about how it will impact on the team. What should I do?"

A: The fact that you are expressing concerns about how your personal life will impact on both your own professional capabilities and those of your team is a strong sign that you have the maturity to prevent your new relationship from becoming a problem at work.

In most cases like yours, the problem you're most likely to encounter can come in the form of envy from colleagues, especially if they fear that you will benefit from favoritism.

So the first thing to do is demonstrate that your relationship will not be used to your advantage.

Your relationship can raise communication barriers with colleagues, if they fear that you are the only one to have the boss's ear.

To prevent this, you should ensure you are not seen as the only one with an opinion worth listening to or are the recipient of confidences.

Office gossip

You may also find that gossip about you and your partner quickly spreads around the office. Don't rise to the bait, but either dismiss it out of hand or ignore the chatter completely. You need to demonstrate that comments won't affect you and anyone engaging in this sort of banter will quickly grow bored of it and stop.

Of course, many organizations have begun to introduce policies about office relationships. The aim is to create a framework to ensure both office and personal relationships can work, because they are more commonplace now than at any point in the post-war era.

Often this involves changing employees' roles to avoid partners working too closely with one another. So it may be worth exploring your own position. Ask yourself whether you could switch teams? Explore the possibility of changing roles in your current team, so that a colleague has more exposure to your partner. And ensure that HR is involved in the process, so that everything is done according to the office policy.

Above all, don't let your relationship impact on your work. And don't let work impact on your relationship. Achieving a balance between work and home life is something we all strive to do.

It is important to make sure your colleagues realize that you are not merging the two. Yet it is also important that you have the freedom to enjoy your career and your personal life.

-- The Chartered Management Instituteexternal link shapes and supports the managers of tomorrow, helping them deliver results in a dynamic world. With 74,000 individual members and 500 corporate members, the Institute helps set and raise standards in management, encouraging development to improve performance.

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