Workplace affairs are a major risk for Family Teams.
Throughout most of human history spouses worked together, whether on farms or in trades, but in recent history this has changed.
Spending more time working on a team with members of the opposite sex than you do with your spouse is a problem.
We pretend like it’s normal because to put any restrictions on these relationships could have an adverse impact on someone’s career path.
But it’s not normal.
It is understandable.
In the modern world we want men and women to have equal opportunities.
So instead of being honest about the dilemma we’re creating for millions of individuals and the risk this dilemma poses to their families, we act like the problem doesn’t exist.
“There’s nothing to see here.”
We ignore the problem.
Workplaces are forced to post signs for every kind of hazard any occupation might pose to workers. But no one will post this warning in the workplace. We don’t post it because our culture values individual freedom over family. So I’ll post a warning here:
WARNING: Working closely on a team with members of the opposite sex could threaten the future of your multigenerational family. Proceed with extreme caution!
So how do we practically do this? How do we work to balance the threat to family while not limiting the opportunities of men and women in the workplace?
Here are three counter-cultural recommendations for those who want to preserve their families for generations:
- Declare to your spouse that your relationships with the opposite sex at work is a “Trust Free Zone.” In other words, your spouse should never trust you in this area. When your spouse asks a question about a relationship you have with someone of the opposite sex at work never say, “just trust me.” They should reply, “No! I don’t trust you…at all.” Instead of asking him or her to trust you, ask them to protect you. Protect you from yourself and your impulses. Protect the future of your family. How? That’s point 2.
- Find any way possible to help your spouse develop an awareness of anyone you work with of the opposite sex. This may take intentional strategy. Take any and every opportunity to invite your spouse into your workplace. He or she should be known to your co-workers. Introduce them around and help them strike up conversations with your co-workers. Let everyone know you are happily married, and let your spouse sense any open doors that might exist for a family-destroying relationship to develop there. If he or she sees red flags then…
- Be willing to do whatever it takes to reduce the risk. This can include subtle changes, like becoming much more formal with your co-workers, to huge changes, like switching jobs or requiring a transfer. What’s your multigenerational family worth? Don’t be passive in the face of these threats. Work together with your spouse to find and reduce this risk.
When I was serving as CEO of a company, I could not have written this without exposing my company to legal risk, and even now simply putting this in writing could threaten my ability to take future positions. But this message is that important.
Your family is that important.
P.S. I recently did an interview where I outlined this and 25 other lessons I learned from my 12 years of starting, owning and selling a business. Here’s the whole list.
This entry is a part of Jeremy’s Journal, a newsletter Jeremy sends out every Wednesday morning to encourage you on your parenting journey. You can sign up to get them every Wednesday here.