Managing personal relationships

Last updated: 04 Sep 2017

This page is: current

APS Values and Code of Conduct in Practice provides advice for managers and employees in the APS about the application of the Code of Conduct and the APS Values. Section 5.6 of the publication discusses managing personal relationships in more detail.

I’m a team leader and part of a selection panel. I’ve just found out that my ex-girlfriend has applied for one of the jobs we are advertising. What should I do?

Situations like this can give rise to a possible conflict of interest, something your management needs to be made aware of. There are many options that can be taken to manage conflict of interest issues that might arise from a personal relationship.

In this instance, if you have a history with someone and they apply for a job where you are involved in the selection process, disclose that to the delegate as soon as you can. The delegate will decide how to manage your involvement in the selection. It may be necessary for you to withdraw from the exercise.

Conflicts of interest can arise from any personal relationship. You need to ask yourself whether a reasonable observer would be confident that you could make the right decision in an objective, impartial way.

Your agency may have internal policies relating to the management of personal relationships in the workplace. Check what’s on your agency’s intranet or get advice from your agency’s Ethics Contact Officer. If you have any questions about this article, please submit them via the form on the Integrity: Your questions answered page.

Some other situations where being involved in a personal relationship might need some thought include:

  • Whether your personal relationships with team members affect the way that other team members see the judgements and decisions you make.
  • Managing the underperformance or disciplinary matters of someone you have a personal relationship with.
  • Bringing domestic or family matters, such as arguments in the home environment, into the workplace. Leave it at the door, it’s never a good idea to try to get your colleagues to take sides in your personal affairs.

The important thing about personal relationships in the workplace is not that they are wrong or inappropriate, but that your managers are aware of them. This allows them to work with you to manage any impact within the workplace.