Business Partner Cheating

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a business partner cheating of a girlfriend employee:

My business partner is cheating on his girlfriend. His girlfriend is also the manager of one of our locations, and she does a great job. The summary of the story is my business partner and his girlfriend have been dating for 6 months now. During that period he has slept with another employee, another woman outside the business, and has been caught sending provocative text messages to other girls by his girlfriend. His girlfriend as stated above is the manager of one of our locations and does a very good job.

I’m worried that she is going to get back at her boyfriend by doing compromising things at work and I will be a victim of that as well, because I own 50% of the company. I was just reaching out to you to see what you thought I should do and any ideas on the situation. I really do not want to fire his girlfriend because she is great at what she is doing and has more experience than anyone there, but I also don’t want her to take out her frustration stealing my cash and inventory. Thank you for your time.

Signed, Worried

Dear Worried:

It may be that your partner has never promised to be faithful and assumes that his girlfriends know that he has other relationships. In that case, maybe the manager will be more philosophical about it than you think. Or, maybe he lies to all the women in his life–which could be a warning to you, as well.In this case, focus on ensuring that the woman who is being a successful manager feels valued in her own right, not just for being the girlfriend of the owner. The more she finds satisfaction, enjoyment and a sense of pride in the store she manages, the less likely she will be to harm it, even for revenge.

Look for opportunities to reinforce how good this experience will be for any future work, if you think she might be moving to some other job in the future. At the least, commend her successful work and look for ways to reward her that are affordable for the business. (Gifts, time off, bonuses, etc.) Those shouldn’t be used for pay-offs, but if she has done high quality work they would be good to offer anyway.You could also encourage her to become involved in networking groups, service clubs, the Junior Chamber of Commerce or similar groups in the area. That will not only help the business but also make her feel more like a professional manager and give her a sense of ownership.She apparently knows that her boyfriend–your partner–has probably not been faithful. If she hasn’t reacted in a harmful way yet, that’s good news.

You don’t mention what kind of relationship the two of you have, but if it is close, perhaps you can go so far as to tell her how much you and her employees rely on her and thank her for her maturity in the way she is dealing with the situation. That alone might help her see her role differently. You should also talk to your partner and tell him about your concerns. Those concerns are one of the reasons why it’s poor judgment to have a relationship with someone who can sink your business. There certainly is no reason to harm the life and financial stability of your store manager just to avoid something that hasn’t happened yet. Give it time, be aware of changes in her or in the business and be ready to help her transition from manager/girlfriend to only manager–but an excellent one.Best wishes with this situation.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.