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Dealing with A Co-Worker

My husband hired a sales rep over a year ago for our company to be in charge of one of our most important divisions. He was really impressed by her resume and past sales history. I was reluctant when I first saw her about his decision. Her appearance is incredibly sloppy, never pulled together and never really smells "fresh". When she gets really close to you, which she often does, you notice the bad breath too. Lately, she's going through menopause so she keeps the a/c cranked up. She wears really thin clothing so when you walk in her office, and look at her the first thing you notice is, um the headlights (sorry couldn't think of anything better!) It's really gross. It's really inappropriate. How do you tactfully bring something like this up to someone? Honestly, if she took pride in her appearance, she probably wouldn't be down 84% in her sales goal. My other reps are doing well. Any tactful suggestions?

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businmessmom

Asked by businmessmom at 11:00 AM on Nov. 30, 2009 in Money & Work

Level 1 (3 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • Could you pull her off to the side, and just say, I wanted you to know that you can see your "headlights" through your blouse, do you think we could wear something that didn't show them? You could even say you had a client comment to you on it, also maybe give some of the accounts to someone better qualified? Sticky situation, I am in sales, and you can't have bad breath, I have a manager who does, and I offer him gum everytime I see him. Good luck!
    kimigogo

    Answer by kimigogo at 11:07 AM on Nov. 30, 2009

  • If she is this far below plan, you should let her go.
    rkoloms

    Answer by rkoloms at 11:22 AM on Nov. 30, 2009

  • Kimigogo I totally agree, I'll try that approach. It's hard for clients to be focused on your sales presentation when they're focused on looking for the quickest exit route in search of fresh clean air! Rkoloms, you know I've been asking my husband that for the past few months. This gal has a way of explaining things to my husband where she knows how to talk $$$. She and her husband break out all the graphs and charts and explain things to my husband so that he continues to give her chances. Ultimately they blame the economy but yet my competitiors are doing well in that division. My husband's meeting with her again tomorrow. I'll see how that goes.
    businmessmom

    Answer by businmessmom at 11:35 AM on Nov. 30, 2009

  • Forget the appearance issues, and focus on the performance issues. Has your husband tied performance into her job requirements? Does she have a financial quota to meet each month/quarter/year? If her performance is lagging, then you have grounds for termination, as she is not living up to the standards the position requires. If he has not done this, he needs to revise her job description, and get her to sign the new terms of employment, and hold her to them--with weekly/monthly follow-up reports to him. Keep it all factual. A solid paper trail is your best friend!

    Granted she could sue your husband for "wrongful termination" but bottom line performance (or lack thereof will keep the suit from getting very far). That's why you need to not focus on the subjective (appearance) things as much.
    LoriKeet

    Answer by LoriKeet at 12:10 PM on Nov. 30, 2009

  • Thanks LoriKeet for that!. I understand everything has to have a paper trail so thanks for brining up those key points. The only reason I bring up her appearance issue now, which I failed to mention earlier, was because some of the other sales reps in the office find it offensive. The blouse situation is rather revealing and it makes face to face contact rather uncomfortable. I would only address that portion to her. I was just saying that her appearnce screams "LAZY" which I belive is the same vibe her clients get. At this point it's ultimately my husbands decision. I just think he's riding on the coat tails of her past work history and not focusing on how she hasn't lived up to what she promised she'd deliver in revenue.
    businmessmom

    Answer by businmessmom at 2:19 PM on Nov. 30, 2009

  • You know, it's not unreasonable to establish a written dress code for associates!! That could also be part of the new job description! I've worked in offices where sleeveless and sheer tops were unacceptable, along with certain skirt lengths (no more than 3 inches above the knee, no shorts/skorts/capris, pantyhose were required at ALL times--even when wearing trousers, and men HAD to wear sport coats, suits and ties, etc.

    Sometimes making a "generic" policy change that encompasses the issues the problem employee is presenting is seen as less "threatening" than telling her specifically. Besides, the other employees who already take care of their attire, grooming and presentation will not have any difficulty adhering to the new policies! LOL :o) And not complying with the dress code would just be more documentation to help if termination is necessary.
    LoriKeet

    Answer by LoriKeet at 4:46 PM on Nov. 30, 2009

  • WHAT DOES YOUR HUSBAND SAY ABOUT HER APPEARANCE AND WORK PERFORMANCE?....YOU SHOULD FOCUS MORE ON HOW SHE BENEFIT YOUR COMPANY THAN HER APPEARANCE....DO YOU FEEL THREATENED BY HER "HEADLGHTS", OR ARE YOU MORE WORRIED ABOUT HER PERFORMANCE IN THESE HARD ECONOMIC TIMES?......JUST SHARIN AN OPINION....
    apple31

    Answer by apple31 at 7:31 PM on Nov. 30, 2009

  • LoriKeet, thanks for that suggestion on the dress code policy. My schedule is so tight that we've never put one in place cause we just assumed everyone's an adult and they should know how to dress. Need to make time for it! Apple31, every underdog has a cheerleader so I guess you're it. In these tough economic times, everyone is pulling their weight and making sure they put their full value on to the table. As an owner, I'm not filthy rich by any means. And becaue I work hard, I expect my marketing dollars to get max return. This woman has cost us $9,260 in adverstising & licensing but her dept runs <$500-> every month. That's -$6,000 YTD. There are well qualified people jobless right now. So she doesn't deserve any handouts when I'm working 7 days a week and she's not bringing any $$ to my corp. My husband feels her appearnce is inappropriate office attire but feels that it would be better received from me than from him.
    businmessmom

    Answer by businmessmom at 7:44 PM on Nov. 30, 2009

  • Another thing Apple31, why does ulitmately only my husbands opinion matter? I've every right to vocalize my concerns when an employee is costing way too much and not living up to her part of the contract. Like I said, we're not rich and that's money that could have been put to better use. And why, in this day and age, must women throw out the word "THREATENED" so loosely? Really, you think I'm threatened by someone who doesn't bathe regularly, brush her hair and looks like a complete atroscity? And I have my own set of 'headlights' , thank you. Her job entails her to manage investment properties for investors. Investors need to feel confident that their rep is going to care for the property with 100% effort. Her image & entire vibe scream "NO EFFORT". Which is probably why she only has 8 accounts this year when she promised me 50 by the end of the year. Her interview projected a professionalism that has since vanished.
    businmessmom

    Answer by businmessmom at 10:47 AM on Dec. 1, 2009

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