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wwyd with friend situation

(106 Posts)
paynosttentiontothecat Fri 03-Jan-14 10:15:54

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.

Chippednailvarnish Sun 05-Jan-14 18:59:25

If you came into my office with greasy hair, BO wearing dirty ripped clothes you would be sent home to "revise your outfit".
This isn't unusual in my profession and I can think of several law firms who would do the same.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Sun 05-Jan-14 18:42:40

Is there actually a dress code you are obliged to enforce? This is what isn't clear to me.

The difficulty with a chat on a friends basis (which I agree is appealing) is that if she doesn't leave the discussion with the idea she needs to do something to address the situation then you need to think about whether you are still on the hook with having to have a formal discussion with her as her manager. If you feel you would be then maybe don't blur the lines or make it clear that it's an off the record heads up to take action so you can avoid anything more formal happening at work. I can imagine feeling a bit betrayed somehow if I worked with a friend who approached a problem at work with me as a friend which later became a 'formal' issue if they hadn't made clear their interest in the issue was really friendship AND professional, if that makes any sense.

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 04-Jan-14 12:58:18


DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 04-Jan-14 12:58:03

I'd just get her in for a formal chat. Ask her how she is, maybe say you're concerned because you've noticed she doesn't look so good, said the right way and with empathy it won't be half as hard.

I had to speak to one of my colleagues and it was uncomfortable. I ended up asking her is everything okay, it's not like you to be like this...She ended up having a cry to me, opened up about what she was feeling and that seemed to help her really.

NynaevesSister Sat 04-Jan-14 11:54:52

I've thought more about this. You know what? Sod being her boss. Be her friend. Take her out for a drink. Tell her this is nothing to do with work you are there as her friend. It is obvious to you that she is going through something intense right now and if she wants to talk about it great you are there for her and if she doesn't then that's ok too you are still there.

If she asks why you think there is something wrong say that she is just not looking herself lately, that she doesn't seem to be taking care of herself as she used to be. This is like the person you knew and you were worried. If you are wrong then great! She won't mind - I know I would rather friends showed they cared about me.

bragmatic Sat 04-Jan-14 05:15:48

I'm genuinely concerned about her as a friend and anxious about how quickly it's escalating.

I think you should start the conversation with the words you used earlier.

Chottie Sat 04-Jan-14 05:09:49

I've read through the whole post and my take is that this needs to be addressed as her manager. It needs to be a private meeting, focussing on her hygiene and dress. I have had difficult meetings with staff and always start with a positive statement before addressing other issues.

This sort of conversation is so difficult because it is so personal, there is a fine line between not wrapping it up so much that the message is lost and being tactful. It is also difficult that she is your friend outside work too.

I would also take informal notes during the (stressing this is informal) meeting, writing down what you have both agreed on as the outcome. Go through them with her to make sure you have both agreed with what is written. I would also email them to her after the meeting. I would also put a copy of the notes in her personnel files. This may sound a bit OTT, but I always, always cover my back.

horsetowater Sat 04-Jan-14 05:06:07

I agree with other posters that you should address this as a manager, not as a friend. Either way you are doing her a favour. Overeating is a serious health issue and you should help her if you can. Can you offer to pay for counselling?

Caitlin17 Sat 04-Jan-14 04:44:36

The no tights issue is probably because her size makes tights difficult to put on and wear.

Same with the ballet flats, they will simply be the most comfortable footwear.

MsAspreyDiamonds Sat 04-Jan-14 04:25:15

It is odd buying colleagues lavish Christmas gifts. What do you know of her personal life? Could you take her on a shopping trip for yourself & see how she responds to being around clothes? Then decide which approach, if any, that you should take.

If she is a size 30+, are you sure the BO is sweaty?
Just asking because she may have some thrush as well in her skin fold areas, and that can smell too, but it's a different smell.

Lavenderhoney Fri 03-Jan-14 21:46:28

Firstly I would discuss with my line manager as I was raising issues and wanted any advice on it, plus company policy. Follow that up with an email to your boss.

Then sit down with her as suggested below and say that you are happy with her work but it has been noticed that her appearance and personal hygiene does not fit in with the company norm and you have been asked to raise this ( true, as its an issue and you have cleared with your manager)

You can't control her reaction, you can just say that its expected for all staff to dress appropriately for work and be in control of personal hygiene.

I wouldn't get involved in helping her, as then its your problem and you are at work. Plus you may get into a level of detail that might bite you on the bum once she gets home and thinks about it.

Tell her she is free to discuss with your boss if she has any issues she is uncomfortable discussing with you, as you know her socially.

Its very hard, but must be done. Do it at the beginning of the week, before going home time so she can leave. Say its important she knows people like her and enjoy working with her, but it has been noticed and people are concerned. She mustn't feel laughed at or ganged up on and you should say that.

Say its affecting her success in the company as well, if she is ace at her job- it will hold her back, IMO.

AwfulMaureen Fri 03-Jan-14 21:38:23

If she is that large then it is very probable that she is finding it hard to find comfortable clothing and shoes. The feet will hurt....which accounts for the ballet flats, tights in that size are perhaps not the most practical thing to wear when you're dealing with thigh rubbage....the BO is probably due to excessive sweating.

nonetheless she needs to find a better alternative. There are many shops selling good cotton trousers with elastic waistbands and comfortable long sleeved tops which will help with the sweat issue. OP I suggest you dno't mince your words but explain she needs to wear either tights or trousers and deal with her personal hygene.

RaspberryRuffle Fri 03-Jan-14 21:31:41

Cross post, just saw size 30 plus - research somewhere that she can shop for clothes in her size, no point embarrassing her by saying there are smart shirts on sale in a shop that won't cater for her size.

RaspberryRuffle Fri 03-Jan-14 21:29:25

OP, you come across as concerned. You definitely need to talk to her, sooner rather than later. Bite the bullet on Monday. As others have said, praise her work and whatever she does well but say you're concerned she struggles with maintaining a professional appearance with regard to the clothes and the BO. Do NOT chicken out of mentioning the BO, as it is the thing that most bothers the other colleagues who will be looking to you to solve this, and your manager may well be aware and is waiting for you to act.
If you really think she may have trouble fitting in the showers is there a gym near the office where she could shower?
Can you show her some great bargain clothes in the sales?
Can you introduce her to dry shampoo for days when she doesn't wash her hair?

paynoattentiontothecat Fri 03-Jan-14 21:26:48

I didn't recruit her; the job was advertised externally and she applied and was appointed. She genuinely was the best - we only had two applicants!

Thank you MamaPingu - definitely no judgement here!

I think the problem is she'd see through my placating attempts - I'll have to be direct. She is size 30+ so I do think being unable to find clothing to fit will be an issue so certainly don't want to suggest shopping as that might embarrass her further.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Fri 03-Jan-14 21:16:28

How good friends with her were you before she joined? Did you recruit her?

LadyHarrietdeSpook Fri 03-Jan-14 21:14:48

Would it not be normal for you to call round to hers sometime? you could then see what us going on at home re the hoarding etc? It may be much easier to have a 'what's up?' conversation with her in this context. And she may open up properly if something is wrong. I would be worried about a marked deterioration in her appearance too.

sykadelic15 Fri 03-Jan-14 20:34:38

It's such a mine field. I've typed several suggestions just to delete them, imagining someone telling me the same.

Whilst hired as a temp my contact agent called me once, and said "I'm so sorry to have to say this, and I'm so embarrassed but I was asked to tell you that you're showing a bit too much cleavage." My first reaction was to look down at my top but then I told her it wasn't her fault, that I'll be more careful and thanked her. (I wasn't showing too much cleavage - actually showing next to none - but I'm extremely well endowed with a small ribcage so they're often the first thing people notice).

My point is this - maybe you could attempt it in a similar way? Apologise for having to talk to her about it but that it's your job but also that as a friend you're worried about her. Praise her work ethic first, her fabulous personality etc, but then go on to mention that it's been brought to your attention (and you've noticed yourself) that her clothing and hygiene have seemed to drop a bit and that you're concerned about her. Offer to go shopping with her to find other clothes if she isn't sure what to wear.

That's how I'd try anyway...

MamaPingu Fri 03-Jan-14 20:22:42

Paynoattentiontothecat- definitely thinking you're getting some unreasonable comments!

I think you aren't judging you're just giving a full picture of this woman. I think when someone is clean and reasonably well presented if they have a monobrow or don't wear makeup doesn't really occur to you.
But when someone has BO, has greasy unkept hair and wears ripped tatty clothes then things like lack of makeup and monobrows add to the unkept look

paynoattentiontothecat Fri 03-Jan-14 20:05:18

I don't wish to say so Dolls; I am concerned about being identified.

I am not judging in the slightest, but clearly you are quite firm in the opinion that I am and despite having explained on more than one occasion why I included this detail, you remain fixated on this view.

I would like any useful advice, but repeatedly stating I am 'judging' is unhelpful.

Dollslikeyouandme Fri 03-Jan-14 20:01:27

And I think the fact you're commenting on her eyebrows, hairstyle (not cleanliness), and lack of make up shows that you are judging. I can't say I can even remember any of my work colleagues eyebrows or whether they wear make up.

Dollslikeyouandme Fri 03-Jan-14 19:58:55

Would you mind saying what line of work you are in?

I work for local government btw, so there is an assumption that people should dress reasonably smart and be presentable. But it's open to interpretation isn't it?

You contradict yourself as on one hand you're saying that there isn't a dress code and that you're not in a position to set one, but on the other you're saying that her and other staffs clothing isn't appropriate.

paynoattentiontothecat Fri 03-Jan-14 19:49:12

As I have explained, christmas I was attempting to give as full a picture as possible smile

Her eyebrows are not my business, nor is her choice of hairstyle. However, if I had just asked for advice on the body odour issue, it would have left a number of relevant factors about her general appearance out hence why I included them - not to be in my way unkind.

IamChristmas Fri 03-Jan-14 19:40:54

Leave her eyebrows alone at the very least! Not all of us feel obliged to tidy up our eyebrows, I have never done anything with mine, they're quite bushy but I just don't give a monkeys. I certainly wouldn't expect my work to care what shape my eyebrows are!!

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