The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Love on the clock

I am an account superviser with an advertising agency. I have been interacting with a company whose business is valuable to us. The brand head is a young woman and she and I have found a whole lot in common between us, so we have been meeting outside the office, too. My immediate colleagues kid me about it, but I think our agency head is not amused. I am quite deeply involved and we are thinking of getting married. Please don’t ask me to dump her.

Name withheld

First, ask yourself what you value more — your career and your standing with your agency, or this romantic entanglement which has come about because of the proximity and intensity of your work. We are here to iron out the wrinkles in office situations. So, our concern is that there should not be any conflict of interest in your dealings with your client. You should be man enough to make a clean breast of it to your agency head, and say that you would like to be taken off the account. In that way, you can continue your liaison, without it affecting work.

The other step is your personal matter and you might as well tie the knot — we have no qualms about that. But it is important to give the right signals to others in the office by showing that you care about the progress of the agency. You can work on so many other accounts. Keep the two things separate and dump your inflexible attitude.

As the founding CEO of a small firm, I have landed myself in my own soup. I decided to do a flexible time option for my workforce, because there are a lot of women in it. My philosophy which I shared with them was that I wanted them to have an improved work-life balance. So it was not just the time they spent in office, but the quality of their output and a better productivity that would be the outcome if they could choose when and where they could do their ideating from. And you know what? They have started taking advantage of this flexible option, some not appearing for days on end, others misusing the physical time away from office. This is a stupid Western concept. How do I fix this?

Name withheld

You asked for it, didn’t you? And now you are repenting grafting an alien concept on to an Indian situation. It is obviously time to take things in hand. Start by issuing an open letter to all employees expressing your concern. In that, you should ask for their cooperation to see how this concept can work in a more transparent and do-able manner. Put them on the backfoot and make them feel that they have to take the idea forward in a more honest fashion.

What if it doesn’t work even after that? Well then, do the proper despotic thing and go back to running the company the way others do. If they don’t play ball, you need to get control of it and dribble it towards the goal you think is more workable.

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