wwyd with friend situation(106 Posts)
My friend is lovely but I am concerned about her. I have known her for five years but recently she started working for my organisation and therefore I am her manager. I didn't anticipate any issues with personal life/friendship because she's good at her job but others have started commenting on her appearance.
She has been wearing strange clothes for the weather, sundresses with no tights, never wears a coat or scarf or gloves. Ballet pumps when it's tipping down with rain, always. Never wears makeup or bothers to do her hair nicely (it's yanked back into a ponytail which isn't flattering to her.) clothes are frequently ripped or torn. Huge monobrow. Bad body odour and hair looks frankly like its been dipped in chip fat.
Yet her nails are always manicured, her hair is always highlighted (just not clean!) , I can't make sense of it.
How on earth do you raise a subject like this? The problem is there isn't a formal dress code as such although smart casual has always been the generally accepted rule. What she wears would be fine in June but is odd in December, and then there's the tearing and clothes are sometimes stained as well. She generally rotates the same 3 outfits.
She might have no clothes.
Re: The ballet pumps. I see loads of women/girls out in this weather wearing ballet pumps and no socks. Maybe they don't feel the cold as much?
Is this usual for her?
Do you remember her being like this when you first met her?
I would ask if she would like an advance on her first months salary to buy appropriate work wear.
I'm positive it isn't money. She has been working with me since September anyway so she's had 4 months worth of salary and she was working FT before that. Plus, she bought everyone in the office VERY lavish Christmas presents.
Is this a recent thing? You've known her for 5 years socially, so in this time has she always worn appropriate clothing in a good state of repair and been well presented with good personal hygiene? Is it just since she's been working at your organisation?
I think it's lovely that you are so concerned about your friend, OP. I can see why this is a difficult situation for you to raise with her.
Will she have a formal performance management review or something where you can bring up the issue in a sensitive way?
Vivi, I don't remember her looking scruffy like this, no, although we first met as colleagues when we were both 24/25 and are now 29/30. Since we left our first workplace we've seen each other socially and so obviously dresses and high heels sort of outfits. So I haven't known what she wears on a day to day basis for some 4 years.
Does she see the dirt/ stains I wonder?
I know people who will walk around quite happily not noticing they have baked beans stains down their front.
However, if this unkemptness is new to her there may be worrying depression type issues.
If just 'part' of her, she may just need careful support in learning how to dress/ wash appropriately for work. Some people do.
On the other hand does it matter in her job? [Knowing some computer people who go to work in winter in shorts and crumpled shirts].
Are you in a job where it's essential to wear make up & do your hair posh? Just wondering if its your expectations, or her misunderstanding of the company, rather than anything inherently wrong iyswim? I never wear a coat or scarf or gloves. Or make up. Or do any thing fancy to my hair.
Does it affect her job? Is it affecting the workplace and colleagues ability to do their job?
I would say that professionally there are only two issues you can address. The body odour, and her interpretation of smart casual.
I would take HR advice or seek advice elsewhere on the best, most tactful way to address this.
As for whether she wears a sundress in Jan or a wool coat in July that's entirely her own business and those who indulge in office gossip about it should be told in no uncertain terms they should stop.
In that case, she's either just eccentric OR there are money/stress/homelife issues which are affecting her judgement and or ability to present herself appropriately.
Buying lavish gifts and being on a FT wage don't necessarily equate to a stable financial situation.
As for what to do, I definitely think if others are commenting, you're right, can't just ignore it. And no-one should have to suffer others' BO in the workplace.
The seasonal inappropriateness isn't probably something you can raise, but the clothing that is stained and ripped could well be your 'in'. I think focus on this to begin as it is something objective and easier to bring to her attention that deeply personal/sensitive and more subjective problems such as her personal grooming...
This could be me apart from the dirty hair and body odour. I only have 2 outfits suitable for work and as I'm a volunteer I'm not in a position to buy any more clothes. One of the tops is ripped at the side but I wear a cardigan over it so no one can see it. Its beyond repair sadly!
My Mum and Dad bought me a coat in mid December so I have one of those at last!
I don't know how to approach the friend in this situation but wishing you luck.
Thank you for your thoughts. I agree it is her business in a sense, what she wears when, I suppose I was attempting to build a full picture.
It isn't essential to wear makeup or look particularly smart, but it does add to the rather 'unkempt' appearance she has about her, if that makes sense.
She is and has always been a lovely smiley, cheery, happy person. Loads of friends, active social life, laughs a lot - I recognise this could be masking depression but nothing in her behaviour suggests she is depressed.
Financially, again, nothing in her behaviour indicates she is struggling. I realise lavish Christmas presents/a full time salary don't equate to stability,but the money spent on the presents would certainly allow itself to two smart pairs of trousers and a coat.
Maybe she's just a scruff-bag then, plain and simple. God I'd be crap at dealing with this kind of shit. Good job I'm not a manager.
Is there anyone else she reports to that you could palm this off on under the guise of "being as I know X socially, it might not be as effective coming form me" <chicken>
I unknowingly had a hole in my leggings at my last job and my manager pointed it out. I'm glad she did. She might not be aware
I can understand how one hole or stain might go unnoticed but her general appearance is awful and, dare I say, unprofessional.
I see your concern. It's not so much a case of you being bothered on a professional level but worried that she is not coping in someway.
Does she have a DP? Is there a way you could go to her house? Maybe she is a hoarder and can't get to her bathroom.
She might be struggling mentally or in her home life and someone taking her to one side and saying 'can I help' might be what she wants.
I wouldn't be led astray by the lavish presents as I know some people will go into debit to keep up appearances.
Sounds like she's just a scruff and only makes an effort if she's going on a night out? Some people just don't or can't bring themselves to spend money on clothes.
I'd palm this off to the HR department and get them to have a word about her personal hygiene and the dirty and ripped clothes, because it's not professional to turn up to work like that, but that's about all you can do.
Unfortunately we don't have a HR dept as such (it isn't based on site anyway.)
I could hand it over to my line manager except it isn't really her job which might lead to raised eyebrows over my ability to do mine (I'm very young to have my level of responsibility, and have had a hard time because of this) so I'm going to have to bite the bullet, I think.
Would you do it in a general sense at a meeting 'can I remind you all about the need to dress professionally' or is that more horrible?
Someone mentioned her being a hoarder and there might actually be something in that, her car is a state. I have also suspected there may be access issues in her house as she's very overweight.
Ooooh I don't think I'd address it generally in a meeting. If you're going to do it, it needs to be on a 1:1 basis.
Ok if you're going to do it, you need to be factual, professional and straight to the point... "I want to discuss something that’s awkward, and I hope I don’t offend you. You have a noticeable body odour. It might be that there is a need to wash your clothes more often, I've noticed that your clothes are sometimes dirty or ripped. Or it could be a medical problem? It's a difficult subject to raise with anyone but this is the kind of thing that people often don't realise about themselves and it needs to be addressed"... and take it from there based on her response.
Who thank you. Just corrected the typo in my name
Definitely not a meeting then? I just can't imagine saying those things - I know that's the 'right' way to deal with it but am dying at her face already!
I know, you'll be cringing while you do it, but it needs to be done. It's kinder to address it with her personally rather than with a group of others. Everyone will know who you're referring to anyway, but it could go completely over her head.
The body odour might turn out to be a medical problem? If she's overweight, wears sundresses in winter, no tights, etc, she could be really hot and sweating - thyroid problem or something? And I guess after a while you just don't notice your own smell. It's not fair to let her carry on, oblivious.
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