A reader writes:
I'm writing this for my wife, who has an interesting situation at work. Since it's the holidays, I figured that there may be other employees going through this same situation with their bosses. So here goes...
My wife was assigned a new manager 2 months ago during an office reorganization. Since it was the holidays, and is normal practice at her office, she gave both her old manager and new manager a small holiday gift ($10 gift cards). The old manager accepted kindly, as did her new manager. However, her new manager felt the need to extend an offer to her for a "belated" holiday gift of going out to lunch one day - just the two of them - we're assuming in response to the gesture.
Although the intent seems genuine (he's also married), and nothing to the contrary has been seen by my wife or the manager's prior employees, it has put her in an awkward situation - as her boss is male, and she female. The questions abound... what is the intent of lunch - just lunch or something else? Again, nothing prior has indicated otherwise. What will his other employees think - will she be outcast for being the boss' favorite? Will the other employees think something else is going on between them? Is she overanalyzing the situation?
Even if there is no ill-intent my wife has been struggling to figure out how to handle the situation professionally, and as not to damage an employee / manager relationship that's just beginning. It doesn't appear that a one-on-one lunch is a precedent in her office, although group lunches between managers and employees occur often.
Men and women who work together can't go out to lunch during the work day with each other?
I would like to think that I could take a male employee to lunch without someone reading more into it. Bosses take employees to lunch all the time, as a thank-you for a great performance, as a chance to discuss career goals in a more relaxed setting, or just because they feel like getting some food. Often just because they feel like getting some food.
You say there's been no indication of anything improper. That's all you, or anyone else, needs to know.
I have to wonder: Since you're the one writing in rather than your wife, is it possible that you're the only one who sees something suspicious here? If I'm right ... dude, stop harassing your wife and let her have a normal relationship with her boss.