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How do you approach your colleague about his smell?

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by TimMortar, Oct 3, 2017.

  1. TimMortar

    TimMortar New Member

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    I've been managing a small team in an IT company in SF and I am wondering how to approach the topic with my colleague of his smell.
    Several colleagues have discretely reported his smell to others but no one ever faced him directly. Being his manager, I feel obliged to take the lead on this topic and tell him that he is incommoding others with his smell.
    How would you do that with the tact and politeness that a business situation brings?
     

  2. Lionel Hutz

    Lionel Hutz Distinguished Member

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    I had to do that with a colleague at a law firm. He was a first year associate with HORRIBLE breath and it was a topic of conversation in the office (which was about 160 lawyers in that city). I wasn't his supervisor but he was working for me on a big deal and I felt compelled to pull him in my office with a closed door and tell him it was a issue. I tried to be as considerate as possible and he took it well.

    You aren't doing him or your coworkers any favors by not telling him, I think honest, direct and compassionate and hope for the best is the best you can do.
     

  3. idfnl

    idfnl Stylish Dinosaur

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    Report to HR you're doing this, give them a chance to weigh in. As a manager, you have to protect yourself from an unexpected reaction. Sometimes HR will want to take over and do it themselves.

    Otherwise be gentle but direct, it earns respect. I've had to do this several times, and it's best to just say "I've had some reports about body odor, and it's something that needs to be addressed."
     

  4. Lionel Hutz

    Lionel Hutz Distinguished Member

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    Yeah I should have mentioned running it by HR. I thought that was obvious and of course they will probably tell you to do nothing.
     

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