A few years ago I had a staff member who was working long hours and many days away from home. His job required a lot of travel, and a lot of time away from his partner, friends and family. At one point his partner’s son was undergoing treatment for cancer and he was working away and couldn’t be there to support his partner. One of the staff in the office arranged for flowers to be sent to his partner â€“ a small token of caring at a hard time.
Looks fine to me, I’ve authorised flowers, movie tickets, and more for family members whose lives have been disrupted by work I’ve given my staff. I was once given plane tickets to spend time with my family after work kept me tied up through Christmas and New Year.
But time passed, and my staff member made some enemies, and that purchase of flowers was used to humiliate him and damage his career.
This makes me wonder a couple of things:
1) Was the decision to buy flowers a bad one?
2) Was the use of the purchase of flowers by his enemies, repeatedly retold by the media, fair?
3) Is my gut feeling right that this particular purchase was used by his enemies to remind us all that this partner is male, and imply that there is something distasteful about that fact?
I’m not for a moment suggesting that spending on and by employees should be uncontrolled, unmanaged or concealed; just wondering where to draw the line between transparency and self-serving malicious prurience.