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Should You Have a “Professional Spouse?”


Robby

I was at a conference recently of administrative assistants, and one of the panelists talked about how her boss was her “professional spouse.”

Not her actual spouse, mind you. Both the executive and the assistant were married to other people, but her point was that (with her words) “as a secretary to an important company leader, they are effectively your professional spouse. You have to have total trust.”

I’m a huge fan of professionalism. I’m also a huge fan of marriage. (Hi honey!) But I must admit, “professional spouse” sounds like a terrible way to describe a relationship at the office.

My definition of a workplace is simply:

An environment where highly-skilled people coordinate and collaborate in order to maximize overall productivity and individual satisfaction.

That’s about a zillion miles from marriage, which is something like:

A committed, monogamous, life-long partnership based on mutual respect, trust and support.

Does that mean you shouldn’t be committed at work? Of course not. But your highest commitment at work should be to your professional standards, your career goals, and the value you provide for your family.

Does that mean you shouldn’t have loyalty to a job? Of course you should. But a job move should be a much easier decision than getting married or getting divorced.

Does that mean you shouldn’t trust, respect and support your colleagues? Of course you should. But at the office, “trust, respect and support” are descriptions of professional interactions, not personal ones. You should trust people to keep their promises, not trust them with personal secrets. That’s for your actual spouse, and your family and friends.

I’m not saying you can’t get along with your colleagues. But I am saying that “professional spouse” sounds like trouble to me. What do you think? Do you want your partner to have a “work husband” or “work wife?”

Not me!

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Mon, June 13 2011 » Corporate Culture, Ethics and Fraud, Work/Life Balance

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