Keep Your Pants On…

John Whitaker HR (& Life!) Advice, John Whitaker

Anthony, Anthony, Anthony….you twit. Your entire life, you work to achieve a position of stature and influence, overcoming what had to be a tough playground experience as a child, only to betray yourself in the most ironic of ways considering your surname. TWICE.

Weiner is certainly not the first powerful man to succumb to the temptations of the flesh -hell, even now he’s sharing the spotlight in his own city with Elliot Spitzer (the “Empire State” is on a roll.) To be fair, it’s not a new phenomena, men have been crashing and burning since David met Bathsheba. You can conduct a diagnostic process whenever a man’s world collapses around him, and chances are it leads to a zipper that can’t be kept closed. We, as a gender, can’t seem to figure this equation out, as it continually repeats itself over the course of history.

Making the situation even more combustible and potentially destructive is the dynamic of the workplace affair. In my own experience as an HR Business Partner, I saw a handful of very promising executive careers disappear in a blink; families destroyed, reputations ruined, and even two “work babies”- now that’s a hell of a way to come into the world. So besides the obvious, what’s the big deal about fishing from the company pier?

3 solid reasons to keep your pants on at the workplace (let’s assume you already agree it’s wrong, immoral, selfish, and stupid):

  • “It got weird”  – What in the name of Don Draper were you thinking? You are going to see this person every day for as long as you both stay employed, and your work relationship is forever and permanently screwed up. Should this person be in your scope of command, you have effectively abandoned your authority and created the groundwork for a harassment suit at some point. When it ends (and it will end), it will be as ugly and clumsy as an octopus falling from a tree (kudos to the great David Feherty for that brilliant metaphor), believe me.
  • We all know, I promise – Is the allure of “forbidden love” part of the appeal? Well, get over it… there are no secrets at work. We know. We saw the “look,” noticed the cheeky grin, your secret tryst is probably already public knowledge. We are laughing at you, whispering in the hallways, or in some cases, plotting to end your career. Whatever “cred” you may have built up, be prepared for this little factoid to forever be associated with you. I’ve been in Talent Assessment meetings where this information was mentioned openly, as if it were a part of the review process. Sometimes referred to as a career “de-rail.” Has “de-railever meant something good?
  • You may get shot – Okay, that might be the extreme, but remember that picture of the lumberjack on her desk? That’s “Jimbo,” her insanely jealous gun-collecting husband. Did you think about the fact that you actually endanger yourself and your co-workers for the sake of your carnal needs? Not every building has the benefit of security guards, gates, or fences – believe me, an angry spouse showing up at the workplace is a Charlie Foxtrot the likes of which you never want.

You may not agree with the content in this post, but I think it was an opinion presented quite tastefully. Or not, I don’t care – but considering that half of all affairs occur while at the workplace, I think it’s something worth talking about…

If you’re going to be a sleaze, at least be original… and take it outside the office.

John Whitaker

John Whitaker (“Whit”) is Vice President of Talent Acquisition for DentalOne Partners and the founder of HRHardball.com (2008). He specializes in building and developing strong recruiting teams who are unafraid of “kicking the ant pile.” Like most Texans, he loves to tell a story (especially those that include an armadillo or a poker game) and cutting through the chaff…don’t take it personal.