THE BLOG

Who's the Boss Now?

12/10/2013 08:59 am ET | Updated Feb 09, 2014

Even Tony Danza is smart enough to know the pitfalls and perils of bosses and employees keeping the 'one-on-ones' going after the severance.

It's the last day of work. The cliché cardboard box is being filled with doo-dads, trinkets and framed pics fit for AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com. There is well-attended happy hour at Chili's where Beverly from accounting throws down one too many Corona pony bottles. And everyone agrees that they'll keep in touch.

Yeah, right. And Beverly doesn't worry about an intervention from her family over Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Well, sometimes, former coworkers keep the cubicle-scented Yankee Candle burning well after the COBRA mailing arrives. And often times, the two parties engaged in post-employment shenanigans -- whether it's of the platonic variety or the type that forces you to buy a second cellphone -- were once at opposite ends of a power struggle.

A recently released annual Gallup poll asking employees whether men or women are better bosses gave the nod to the gents, but it was closest the survey had been in its 61-year history. Of course, there is no poll predicting who's the better "former boss."

So what should old co-workers at opposite ends of the org chart do when years of built-up sexual tension or even friendly banter are free to exist without the fear of the HR police or judgmental co-workers?
Hmmm...

Let's take a look...

If you were the boss...

• Set boundaries: Odds are you have a lot more to lose than your former report. Be sure to set expectations accurately by putting up the metaphorical barbed wire fence around your nest egg, family and Saab. Of course, if you're living a carefree existence and party like a Sodomite on New Year's Eve, live life like you're 15 minutes from the climax of a Jerry Bruckheimer flick.

• Beware the scorned employee: You never know who might be resentful that you have more rapport with your old co-worker than he or she did. We know how this made-for-TV Lifetime movie ends -- and it's not pretty -- is it, Lorenzo Lamas?

If you were the employee...

• Ditch the gold-digging: If your old boss is smitten with you and you've got nothing to lose accept your mortgage, car and the respect of your child after you buy him Boggle for his birthday -- it's hard not to accept a consulting gig as an escort (be sure to submit a W-9). Just know that it won't end well. And what would have been a great job reference could turn out to be a cameo on "Cheaters."

• Keep it on the down low: Some people, even your friends and family, just get weird when they feel anyone is getting a free ride. If a relationship with your former boss equates to more than a free Applebee's appetizer and an exchange of cheeky birthday e-cards, don't share your shady details with anyone who has a conscious.

Once you cut the cord between boss and employee, you're free to either ignore each other's existence or treat each other like human Legos. Or something in the middle But just remember, while the water cooler no longer exists, the judgment form miserable peers is stronger than ever.