Bosses and Colleagues By Debrett’s


Colleagues should be treated with respect. Make all your colleagues feel equally valued and, if you are in a position of seniority, don’t single people out for either excessive criticism or praise.

Not all topics of conversation are suitable for office chitchat, especially in an open plan environment. Don’t embarrass your colleagues by discussing inappropriate or personal topics and resist the temptation to gossip about other members of staff.

Try to keep your work life and private life separate as much as possible and this includes limiting your personal calls. However, it is important to open up a little and find some common ground with your colleagues.

Support your workmates and they will do the same for you in your hour of need. If you can see someone is particularly busy or stressed there may be some way you can help without affecting your own workload too much.

Always credit colleagues where it’s deserved; never steal ideas or take credit for something that wasn’t your idea.

Be willing to dedicate time and effort to your relationships with colleagues. This may mean giving up an evening for some after work drinks or going out for lunch together once in a while.

However petty, juvenile or ruthless your colleagues may seem, remind yourself that they are human beings with lives outside the office. Treat all colleagues with courtesy, irrespective of hierarchy.

Being the Boss

The relationship between a boss and their staff is crucial to the success of working life. The workplace with a boss who knows their employees – from the tea boy to the top – is a successful, efficient and happy place to be.

Bad bosses rule through fear. Bullying, shouting and anger will quickly establish them as the office hate figure. Nothing turns staff off more quickly than the despot who steals all the glory.

Good bosses listen to their staff. They recognise strengths, understand procedures (no matter how big or small) and set reasonable goalposts (that they don’t shift).

Encouragement, praise and rewards are delivered promptly when due – professional moral is frequently on a high.

Handling the Boss

Know your boundaries. Your boss is always your boss, no matter how well you get on or how much they value your opinion.

Always remain professional and remember that they are in a position of seniority to you. Don’t offer advice unless asked.

Make it personal. Ask after the little ones and lesser halves, but keep within polite parameters.

Careful answering back could be taken as witty repartee and disagreeing as a brave challenge, but approach both with caution.

When a work crisis erupts, ride out the panic before sharing it with the boss. They expect solutions not problems, so turn it around.

Office Romance

The camaraderie of the workplace can often overflow into romance, but you should think carefully before embarking on a relationship with a colleague.

Be guided by common sense and consider potential conflicts of interest. Check whether your employer has a policy on such matters. However professional you are, others might be quick to suggest that your judgment is clouded.

A liaison between boss and subordinate is particularly problematic and may require one of you to consider your options.

If it’s early days and you’re not sure whether your romance has staying power, be as discreet as possible and keep it between yourselves.

When you become an established couple, it is worth considering whether to spill the beans, with a view to controlling the spread of the news rather than relying on the office grapevine.

Never flaunt your romance in front of colleagues: displays of intimacy will undermine your professionalism and make others uncomfortable. You will gain the respect of others by showing restraint.

With careful handling and favourable circumstances, romance can blossom. However, if you find that mixing business with pleasure is affecting your work or your relationship adversely, assess your priorities and act decisively.

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