Q. I work in a very small office. My boss is married; he has two children with a third on the way.
In the beginning we worked well together. He was very helpful to me and seemed to be a considerate person. However, as time went on, I realized that he is the kind of individual who wouldn't do anything unless there was a "return" in it for him.
He started asking me about my sex life and about the color of my underwear. He started leaving notes on my car at home, he has frequently asked me to meet him for drinks after work, he has been trying to hug me often.
I have tried my best to make it clear to him that I am not interested in him. At the same time, our company is too small for me to complain about him without his having a chance to make my life difficult.
Perhaps the best thing to do would be to find another job -- but that's not fair: I like my work.
He has cheated on his wife before and he will do it again.
Should I tell his wife what kind of a man he really is? Or should I just close my eyes to what he is doing to his family and move on?
A. Neither. It's not your business to tell your boss's wife about him nor should you give up on a job you like because of him. Instead, fight back.
You are dealing with a blatant instance of sexual harassment. It's a terrible practice -- and it's against the law. But before you take legal action, you should push back, hard.
You should go way beyond "making it clear" that you are not interested in your boss. You should tell him -- to his face and in the most explicit way -- that you want him to stop his advances, in all of their manifestations.
A firm and direct stand by you might well do it. If not, be prepared to seek outside assistance.
A reader responds: "You recently wrote back to someone who complained about an employee with an 'attitude problem.' I think you might have missed an opportunity to really help a person here. Employees with deficient skills often have underlying physical or psychological problems that can be dealt with through employee assistance programs.
"Once, I encountered an individual with 'communication problems.' Upon being referred to the health service, he was found to have a previously undetected hearing loss.
"I think all attempts should be made to salvage individuals. They may be miserable to work with through no fault of their own."
The example you describe is one where the employer could really help. However, managers should be careful that they don't send every obnoxious employee into psychoanalysis.
A manager's first responsibility is to keep the workplace productive and unimpeded by employees who are unwilling to cooperate with their co-workers.
We need to achieve this through practical and immediate means. That suggests that we focus primarily on managerial action to change on-the-job behavior.
Andrew Grove is chief executive of Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., and an author and lecturer on management. Please send questions to him in care of the San Jose Mercury News, Business News Department, 750 Ridder Park Dr., San Jose, Calif. 95190.