I work in a UK-based software development company. I've seen it happen in previous IT or development workplaces; if a developer is found to be job-hunting or sneaking off for interviews, they are asked not to come in the next day or are simply escorted off the premises. It may be an extreme and rare occurrence but one that others have witnessed as well.
One of my colleagues - let's call him 'Fred' - left the office to take a phonecall. Soon after, I left the office on my lunch break and passed by Fred who was standing just outside the office door and still on his call. From what little I overheard, he was obviously talking about an interview and arranging a time for the next one. He apparantly did not notice me until I passed him by. On another lunch break, Fred was very nervous and asked me if I overheard anything of his call. I said no, but as he did not mention anything more specific, I added that if he needs to take a private call, it's best to stand further from the office doors. I've had to do that for doctors appointments before. Since that chat however, Fred's attitude has changed. He has become very anxious and quiet around most of our peers. He has been offering to work on tasks assigned to me, to fetch my coffee, stay late or volunteer to take extra slots in the on-call rota. My fear is that Fred suspects I know he is job-hunting and am somehow holding this knowledge over him (which I'm not). Fred and I have worked together for more than a year, he is a trusted colleague and to my knowledge, no-one has ever had to question his competence. So far, my manager's only observation has been that Fred is less chatty but more eager than before.
I would be disappointed to see Fred leave the company, willing or otherwise, but I don't want to be a hindrance to someone who simply wants to progress their career. I am Fred's senior as a developer but not his line manager. I would be concerned to blatantly say to him "I know what you're TRYING to do and it's unnecessary. You've got nothing to worry about from me," as it may confirm beyond doubt that I know he is job-hunting.
My questions are:
- Without putting his job or nerves in jeopardy, how can I dissuade a colleague from attempting to gain favour from me?
- If a colleague is trying to curry favour with a superior, should I make it known to MY/OUR superior that this attitude is not something brought on by me? It is not a workplace practice our company encourages, nor one I would personally approve of.