Fizzled Romance

Question:

I’m the project lead for our department and single. As lead, I sometimes have to make hard calls in terms of who gets leave and who doesn’t when two employees both ask for the same day off. I also give input into my co-workers’ performance reviews. I’ve always followed a rule — don’t telegraph an interest in any of my co-workers.

A year ago, a tall, nice-looking single man took a job here. We quickly became office “best friends.” I knew I was taking a risk but his face lit up when I came into his work area and, since I was between guy friends, the positive vibe I got from him felt great.

He was friendly with everyone else too and so was I. Still, things progressed and our time together became important to me. I had the sense that if he wasn’t working here, he’d have asked me out.

Then, he got cross-wise with our boss and gave notice. After that, he asked me if he could have a day off during his last two weeks to do something special and I had to say no, as his resignation was leaving us short-staffed as it was. Also, he was a procrastinator and so he was behind in all his projects, and giving him a day off would have put two other employees into an undeserved tailspin.

He then left without any notice. Should I have handled this differently?

Answer:

Departing employees react in many ways. Some mentally check out and make thoughtless errors. Others leave their workload nicely buttoned up so their successor can hit the ground running. Still others burn bridges. Often, these “burners” create problems so they can say, “Ha! I was so right when I decided to quit.”

Your departing co-worker may have had tunnel vision when he made his request, thinking only of his needs and not your organization or his soon-to-be former co-workers’ interests. As your office “best friend,” he may have expected special treatment from you.

You did the right thing by evaluating the entire situation and making the best judgment call you could. You’re second-guessing yourself because he left you “holding the bag” in both a work sense and emotionally. You can get over your hurt as soon as you realize what his actions reveal about him. He left you and others with unfinished projects and absolutely no notice. You potentially dodged a bullet.
© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com.

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