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Friday, April 17, 2009

Fraternization Policy

Do you have anything on the above, or work rules regarding supervisors and people that report to them having a friendship outside of work. It is becoming disruptive to the workplace.

I think anti-fraternization policies are really difficult to write and police. How do you get people to stop being friends? And if you don't want supervisers to be friends with their underlings, then you can't promote from within, or you have to say, "If we promote you, you won't be able to socialize with the people you used to socialize with." Except you'd say it with better grammar.

What you are in need of is some supervisors with a clearer understanding of what is expected of them. You need to manage the results. You need to talk to the supervisors about how favoritism (presumably that's the problem here) is affecting the entire team. You need to train your supervisors how to manage.

Very few companies actually do that. Heaven knows my management training was weak. (New boss: "Hey, here are some people to supervise!" Me (outloud): "Great. I truly believe I have a lot to share and I am looking forward to taking this next step in my career." Me (silently): "Crud. I've never even had a formal performance review. Now what?")

I wouldn't focus on the friendship part. I would focus on the measurable results part. Make sure that your supervisors have good managers who have set quantitative goals for them. Make sure they understand that they need to change whatever behavior is causing the problem.

If they can't do it, they should be removed from their supervisor positions, either through demotions or firing. The latter is probably perferable, because if you've got anxiety in the ranks now, putting a disgruntled supervisor back in with his former underlings will not be pleasant.

Part of the job of managing people is realizing that you get paid more because it is harder than it looks. This sometimes means changing your relationships with others. Focus on the results and the relationship problems will be solved.


Ask a Manager said...

Totally agree. Having a policy on this is silly; think about what it is that you're trying to prevent -- it's not the friendships themselves but, as EHRL says, it's the favoritism or whatever. Manage your managers well, and a fraternization policy becomes irrelevant.

And hey, it's nice to have you back!

Evil HR Dictator said...

Welcome back, EHRL.

And let's not forget that oftentimes perception is reality, so whether there is actual favoritism or not, if there is perceived favoritism it has to be handled the same way as if there is actual favoritism. I agree a policy is probably unrealistic. The key is supervisor training and awareness.

The Office Newb said...

Having experienced the most "intimate" kind of fraternization with a co-worker, I think setting boundaries is really the key to making these relationships work.

When I started dating my boyfriend, we both agreed that work was work and our personal relationship stayed outside the office. In fact we didn't tell anyone we were dating and kept it a complete secret for 6 months!

Anonymous said...

so someone unemployed is giving advice to us...mmmm ok. In unrelated news a crackhead is giving free seminars on living a long healthy life.

you sheep said...

yeah because we all know favoritism in the workplace doesn't exist *rolls eyes* I mean all those relatives and friends of friends are just the most qualified when promoted and hired.

Evil HR Lady said...

Ahh anonymous, you are right. Because I voluntarily quit my job a few weeks ago my brain has completely emptied of every bit of knowledge.

I should hang up my keyboard.

Clob said...

I work at an overseas outpost of an organisation. The people working here are mainly expats so they do, in fact, socialise heavily with each other. There is more than one married couple working, sometimes in the same team. This causes few, if any, problems.

Don't make rules for things that aren't the problem (no offense to EHRL, but I find this a common problem with HR people). The problem is not what people get up to after hours; it is what they do on your clock. If there are problems on your clock, address those problems directly (eg. no offensive in-jokes). There is no point penalising people who fraternise but behave professionally at all times.

greenbelt said...

I agree that Employers may stop their workers from fraternizing if it's for fun but not if it's to discuss working conditions

Green Belt Six Sigma Training

blue said...

Thank you for taking a common sense approach to this. I'm refreshed and relieved, because I enjoy friendships with the people I work with, people of all ages.

Everywhere I have worked or searched for work recently has taken the hard-line approach, nearly as overbearing and overreaching as the military's policy on officer-enlisted friendships.

Jake said...

I used to work in a mailroom and I spent some of my morning talking with the receptionist. There were some complaints about us "talking", but my supervisor knew we worked very closely together and generally allowed it. I believe there was a work policy not to have friends in the office.

Six Sigma Green Belt Certificate Program at the University of St. Thomas.

Anonymous said...