Is it a good idea for a supervisor to date his or her subordinate? Of course not! Too many potential complications.

And yet … in a recent survey for CareerBuilder, the online job board, 16% of the 4,000+ respondents said they’d dated their boss. (Beyond those who ’fess up, you can be pretty sure there are more who have but don’t want to say.)

From a supervisor’s perspective, lots can go wrong if he or she – more likely he, according to the survey – romances an underling. Among the consequences:

  • quid pro quo harassment complaints if the relationship goes south
  • demoralizing perceptions of favoritism among co-workers, and
  • damage to the supervisor’s career if it leaks out that he/she is violating any policy on intra-office dating.

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The point for supervisors is clear: Resist the siren song of a subordinate’s attractions.

But if you can’t – if the earth moves every time you see him or her – let your own superiors know about the relationship, and be prepared to accept a transfer of yourself, your co-romantic lead or both. That’s the solution many organizations opt for.

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