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How to deal with coworker who thinks we are having a relationship?

By miaswork ·
A coworker who is helping me manage a project from another location has told me he feels we are having a relationship and I need help tacking this issue because it is unclear what his purpose is.

My manager told me that he has told him that he wouldn't want to work with me in future because of my management style. My manager suggested I talk to him about it. I feel he must have said something quite negative. However when I asked him about it he said he said no such thing and that he enjoys working with me he was giving constructive feedback.

Because of the difficulty in setting up meetings with him on need basis I had set up a weekly meeting with him to discuss open issues pertaining to his area. But since the above conversation every time we have a scheduled weekly meeting he sends me an email asking me to list the issues to be discussed in an email so he can answer and won't attend meetings saying "don't you think we are spending too much time together on the phone" and that he feels this has become a "relationship" and he wants a "divorce".

The way we started interacting was via phone where he had some knowledge which I needed to understand. That worked well. During that part of the project I discussed with him that I would need great communication and partnership from his side as a peer otherwise the project was too risky to take on. He agreed. The project was approved and I was assigned as the manager of the project while he was on vacation. Since he returned he was not really cooperative e.g. missing meetings, etc. However he did do half of the things in his plate well. The other half he didn't make an honest effort to do however they were a bit difficult. I have visited his location 3 times and met with him during these visits. We have never had met outside the work setting except to travel together for business meetings. On these occasions, nothing romantic in nature has come up. I had a feeling when I last visited his office that he looked me up and down and checked me out for 2 seconds and then trying to figure out my earring behind my hair. On our flight back to work after several segments he did not show up and later emailed me that he had missed it. I think he is sleeping with a coworker from his community in another location as well because I noticed their behavior when she joined us on one of the segments.

The project is at a crucial stage and in my opinion if I tell anyone in my management team about it it will become a big issue in an already complex project because the managers are not very supportive types: it's a matrixed organization. I am relatively new to the company and don't want all the hard work put in by the team and I to be frittered away because of this if it can be avoided but I don't want to be trapped because I am blameless.

I feel confused. What does this guy want and what is he trying to do? I don't know if this guy is out to create trouble for me. We are in different divisions and have different management lines all the way up. Poor communication makes it hard for me to manage a project remotely. Help! What should I do?

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Possible first step

by seanferd In reply to How to deal with coworker ...

Ask your manager what this guy says he doesn't like about your management style. Act with that information in mind.

If necessary, make it clear to management that you are having difficulty communicating with this coworker, and that he only wants to communicate via email. Make a case that you cannot be held responsible for any delays or errors in communication this may cause.

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