How To Restore A Professional Relationship With A Subordinate

Maintaining a strictly professional and official employer-employee or boss-subordinate relationship is easier said than done, especially in small businesses. Although it is possible (but not at all advisable/acceptable) for the employer-employee/ boss-subordinate relationship to truly turn into a somewhat romantic relationship, it is sometimes possible for either party to misread signals. This is because naturally, acts of kindness can easily be mistaken for signs of interest.

Having to deal with an employee/subordinate who has read the wrong (or possibly right) signals is important as, otherwise, you could potentially be exposed to a sexual harassment lawsuit. Therefore, if you have sent the wrong signals to an employee or they have unwittingly read your actions and speech wrongly, here are some steps to resurrecting a professional, working relationship:

#1. Talk things out

The first step to dealing with this issue is to talk things out. Firstly you can ask plainly for the reason for the employee’s unprofessional attitude or actions. This would help you understand better, how exactly to proceed. It is important that you choose your words carefully and try to control your tone, and at all costs do not turn it into a shouting match or a ‘lovers’ quarrel. It might help if the human resource personnel or another trusted colleague is present. This would help maintain the professional air.

#2. Maintain a distance

It is important that no matter how your talk goes, you maintain a professional distance. No matter how emotional you might feel, trying to be close to them for whatever reasons is not advisable. Give the employee space to come to terms with the new boundaries/rules.

#3. Maintain professionalism

Regardless of what the employee or subordinate says or does, it is important that you remember to keep your cool and remain professional. Regardless of what might occur, remember that your actions as the superior is more important than the actions of the employee.

If the actions of the employee or subordinate are unbearable, meet with your lawyers and human resource personnel for advice.  It is very important to make sure that the termination of their services (if it comes to that), is not because you can’t stand the drama but because they are professionally unproductive.

#4. Don’t make the same mistake twice

Learn from this. Ensure that professionalism is the order of the day in future dealings with your employees/subordinates.


The existence of a professional relationship in the work place is extremely important. It is therefore your responsibility to make sure you work hard at maintaining that.


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