In the name of keeping a friendly face to their workforce, some bosses think that they can put a friendly arm around you – or if you’re really unlucky place their tongue in your ear – and act in a semi parental way when enquiring about your health, family relations, social life and general demeanour and performance levels.
They rationalise this as demonstrating a concern for their employees, arguing that as a holistic learning, family friendly employer (for example) it is in everyone interests (including yours) for them to become your mum or your dad. This includes doing things like telling you to tuck your shirt in, put your tie on straight and speak nicely to the noisy neighbours.
They don’t realise that the last thing you need in your life is another bloody parent as the two you already have –or have had – are quite enough, thank you very much.
The boss who likes to think he or she is your surrogate dad or mum are like that old beer advert; the pint that thinks it’s a quart. They tend to see the workplace as their own personal fiefdom where everyone is some kind of subservient relationship to them; you are their prodigal son, their daughter, their wayward cousin, the nephew they always resented.
Whatever family role you find yourself playing, one thing is for sure: they don’t see you as their equal. One solution is to reverse roles and become – however temporarily – their hypercritical mum or dad. Scold them ferociously; hug them harder than they hugged you; remind them of their embarassing faux pas at the last office party: whatever you do, don’t let them get away with sticking their tongue in your ear.