Monday, September 3, 2012

She's Got a Secret

We have our first post from a young lady who was put in a very uncomfortable position by her boss.  What do you think she should do?

I am a Jr Marketing Account Manager with a large Chicago bank. For the past 18 months I have worked for a very dynamic Marketing VP.  She has been very willing to let me do pretty much everything for her, which I don't mind because as I am only 2 years out of college, I will take any experience that I can get. 

Things went very well for the first year of my carreer and I began to feel a closeness with my boss.  Out of respect for her, I even invited her to my wedding with her husband and they came and had a very nice time. They sat at a table of mostly work friends and everyone really enjoyed both of their company, with people commenting to me after the wedding, how nice her husband was and what a nice time they had with both of them.    Everything was rolling along beautifully until about six months ago.

In February of this year we entered into a co-branding partnership with an external company.  We were rushing a product into the market place and working against a May deadline. The account manager from the outside company pretty much moved into a hotel in Chicago and spent almost every day in our office working with our launch team.   About two months in, I started to notice a flirtation between the two of them.   By the time we got to launch, they were bickering like a married couple as the stress of the project deadline began to wear on them.

In June we took the product out to other companies in order to attempt to sell the product to other partners under a privately branded offering.  This meant road trips, lots of them, to major cities where potential partners were located.  My boss (Sally Smith) and the account manager (Jeff Landes) myself and an assistant from his team hit the road on a four city tour.  Being on the road with them, exposed an even deeper familiarity between them and both myself and the other assistant began to feel an ever-growing discomfort being in their presence.   Between the long stares, silly squabbles and inside jokes, we started to feel like third and fourth wheels at the first city stop.

When I checked into the hotel in the third city, the desk clerk read out the wrong reservation and said "You have the adjoining room with Landes, correct?" I told her that she was mistaken and looked back to see if my boss was in earshot.  Judging ny the look on her face, she was well aware of what had been said.  Her admin had booked all the rooms under my boss' credit card, so I am surprised it hadn't happened sooner.

From that time forward, my boss pretty much stopped talking to me.  Things became extremely impersonal, even cold between us.  I am not sure what to do as I have done nothing wrong.  I love the work that I do, but my boss is making it unpleasant for me.  My greatest fear is that I will be exposed to her husband at the office Christmas party and I will be a stuttering idiot.  I feel terrible knowing this secret and am not sure what to do next.

OK guys, what advice can we offer our friend? She's got a ho-tastic boss who won't speak to her and a job she loves.  Talk about being between a rock and a hard place.  Let's hear your suggestions.


  1. That's a tough one! Ride it out, I guess. Let her know in some subtle way that her business is her business and you don't want to know, or care what she does in her personal life.

  2. That is tough... the best thing to do I think is to detach completely emotionally and keep up the high level of work you've been doing for the last 18 months. Make it clear to your boss that you're still interested in learning about and doing as much as possible. If she's stopped providing you with feedback or opportunities, don't be afraid to ask for them.

  3. Solid advice all around. It's never easy when anyone, boss or not brings an indiscretion into the office. The incredible selfishness, lack of good judgement and questionable ethics are glaring but not likely to be the last time you'll see them. Stay strong.