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Hi,
I have two employees who dated for a year. It has been a year since they broke up but they are trying to remain friends. They don't work in the same work group or on the same projects, but we do have a small office (35 people) where the young and single people spend a lot of time going out together. For some reason, when they get together and alcohol is involved, it always turns sour. I have had him block her on his company phone, and her complain that he doesn't respect her. we have dealt with any disrespectful or unacceptable behaviour at work but they are both saying that the other is causing them stress and that it is affecting their work. I have finally asked them to block each other on their phones to limit the text messaging after hours which gets out of hand. How much more can I really do if they insist on fraternizing after hours? Both are really great hard working employees.

naraa's picture

 I don't think there is a lot you can do.  They have to figure this out by themselves.  It may help if you tell them Mark's umbrella story.  Have you heard it?  Mark is in the elevator with a friend and someone is there in front of them with an umbrella hanging on the arm.  The guy keeps putting the hand in the pocket and every time he does that Mark gets poked by the umbrella.  As they get out the elevator Mark says to his friend: "That guy made me mad." To which the friend responds: "No he didn't.  He just poked you with an umbrella.  You got mad all by yourself."

The sentence: "the other is causing me stress and it is affecting my work" just reminded me of that story....

My kids 7 and 5 are in Jiu Jitsu class.  The coach asks the kids: "Who is in charge of your emotions?"  To which the kids respond in unison: "I am sir."  Your employees are not acting professionally.  In fact they are acting worse than a child who is still learning to be in charge of his/her emotions.  Tell them you expect better from both of them.  Don't try to sort it out by yourself.  Both are to blame and both can sort it out.

Good luck.

Nara

Kootenay_Mike's picture

 Excellent feedback Naraa.

Tell both of them it's time to knock it off completely otherwise it's time for them to move on. They can figure it out between themselves or figure out what their futures will look like if they can't. You're not the referee. They took a relationship gamble and failed and this is the result they are responsible for. My employees have had similar issues. I ask "Is it going to be a problem?" when it goes sour. If it's yes, I ask who is moving on. That usually makes a quick end to things through resolution between the parties or structurally by someone finding a place he/she can continue succeeding in his/her career without distraction.

Your other employees are likely tired of this and want to stop being subject to the drama of a failed and purposefully ended relationship. These two might be great performers but they need to work on their professionalism. 

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

Kootenay_Mike's picture

 Excellent feedback Naraa.

Tell both of them it's time to knock it off completely otherwise it's time for them to move on. They can figure it out between themselves or figure out what their futures will look like if they can't. You're not the referee. They took a relationship gamble and failed and this is the result they are responsible for. My employees have had similar issues. I ask "Is it going to be a problem?" when it goes sour. If it's yes, I ask who is moving on. That usually makes a quick end to things through resolution between the parties or structurally by someone finding a place he/she can continue succeeding in his/her career without distraction.

Your other employees are likely tired of this and want to stop being subject to the drama of a failed and purposefully ended relationship. These two might be great performers but they need to work on their professionalism. 

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

Kootenay_Mike's picture

 Excellent feedback Naraa.

Tell both of them it's time to knock it off completely otherwise it's time for them to move on. They can figure it out between themselves or figure out what their futures will look like if they can't. You're not the referee. They took a relationship gamble and failed and this is the result they are responsible for. My employees have had similar issues. I ask "Is it going to be a problem?" when it goes sour. If it's yes, I ask who is moving on. That usually makes a quick end to things through resolution between the parties or structurally by someone finding a place he/she can continue succeeding in his/her career without distraction.

Your other employees are likely tired of this and want to stop being subject to the drama of a failed and purposefully ended relationship. These two might be great performers but they need to work on their professionalism. 

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

duplicate_account_MarkAus's picture

You're not a relationship counsellor,  and nor should you have to be.   Also, you should not have to waste your work time sorting this out - it impacts your productivity too.

They own the inputs for their work (cast for that) and are responsible for themselves and their emotions.

Tell them you're not going to address the drama any more, and won't accept excuses when work isn't completed or professional behaviour isn't followed (this includes impacts on the team).   Then hold them accountable for those things.

(Sidebar - don't call them both in to your office at the same time and tell them to cut it out because no good will come of that - do it in your O3s.  Manage them as individuals.)

Gk26's picture

 I worked at a place once where the VP pulled the two people in and said to knock it off or he would fire "one" of them.  That worked

Gk26's picture

 I worked at a place once where the VP pulled the two people in and said to knock it off or he would fire "one" of them.  That worked

alalonde49's picture

thanks, for all the advice. My instinct of course was to do exactly as you all suggest. However, the issue was first brought to my attention due to threats that were uttered at the workplace and a couple of incidents witnessed by others at after hours events that needed to be investigated and dealt with. Since then though, they seem to come to me for every little thing and I am beginning to feel like I'm back teaching junior high. The next time I get dragged in to the drama I will change my tactics to those suggested here.

Cheers!

alalonde49's picture

thanks, for all the advice. My instinct of course was to do exactly as you all suggest. However, the issue was first brought to my attention due to threats that were uttered at the workplace and a couple of incidents witnessed by others at after hours events that needed to be investigated and dealt with. Since then though, they seem to come to me for every little thing and I am beginning to feel like I'm back teaching junior high. The next time I get dragged in to the drama I will change my tactics to those suggested here.

Cheers!

teaguek122's picture

 Wow, that's rough. I would be so bummed for that to go on with my co-workers. I would want the drama to end immediately, and I don't even know the people. Good luck to you dude.