Jennifer K. Crittenden – Workplace Horror Stories



Dan Abbate is a Contributor on the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston), whom you can learn more about at He recently interviewed Jennifer K. Crittenden, who, for over twenty years, has worked for big pharma and biotech companies in the U.S., U.K. and Europe, rising from financial analyst to CFO. In addition to serving as interim CFO, she is the author of the amazon bestseller, The Discreet Guide for Executive Women: How to Work Well with Men (and Other Difficulties); her company, The Discreet Guide(TM), specializes in executive presence, communication, and interpersonal skills.

Tell me about your firm?
My firm is a sole proprietorship, and my clients are typically ambitious professionals who are interested in moving to the next level by developing their soft skills. My company at the time of the “horror story” was a multi-national UK-based healthcare company with about 11,000 employees. My division was located in the US where this situation took place.

Tell us about your workplace “horror story” – what happened?
I was working for a division of a large UK company when we employed a temporary admin for a month or so for some contract work we had in the Finance department. Unbeknownst to me, she hit it off with one of my male accountants, and they apparently REALLY hit it off because she showed up 9 months later with his illegitimate kid. My employee at that point didn’t want anything to do with her, but she took it upon herself to begin calling executives in the company in an attempt to persuade them to pressure him to come back to her/support them/act like a dad, etc. EVEN WORSE was that, instead of politely disengaging from her, as I attempted to do, some of the other executives began to take sides, and multiple conversations started taking place about what was the right thing for the accountant to do. It was one big disaster.

Were you able to solve the problem?
Not really. The temp and her child eventually went away, and the accountant eventually left the firm, but the awkwardness lingered for a long time.

What lessons, if any, did you derive from this experience?
This is one of the many stories why I advocate seriously in my first book that workplace romances can be very detrimental to a professional’s reputation and career. Sex at work is a big no-no, and those of us who are managers, coaches, and mentors need to be more upfront about that topic. Stories about disastrous workplace romances abound. They are uncomfortable for co-workers, they often end badly, they sometimes result in firings, and they are nearly always negative for the woman’s career.

What’s the best way for someone to reach you, Jennifer, if they want to learn more about your book or your business?
twitter: @DiscreetGuide

Thanks so much, Jennifer, for taking the time to talk with us today. Workplace horror stories are common enough things, and there are definitely lessons to be learned from them to protect yourself and the business you have worked so hard to create.

Do you have an interesting workplace or employee horror story how you turned the situation around? Tell me about it! Email me at dan (at) robotaton (dot) com.