Karren Brady’s career advice on how to raise a sensitive issue | The Sun

APPRENTICE star and West Ham United vice-chair Karren Brady answers your careers questions and meets an inspirational CEO.

Here she gives a reader advice on how to raise a sensitive issue with a work colleague in a careful manner.

Q) I work in retail and one of my colleagues has very questionable personal hygiene. He lives on his own and is in his 30s, and I don’t know him well enough to raise the issue directly, but it’s not very nice to work alongside.

I’ve heard a few customers saying things behind his back about him smelling, and although I feel sorry for him and don’t like the idea of people being mean, I just think it’s unacceptable to have poor hygiene when you work in a customer-facing role.

How can I deal with this sensitively?

Karen, via email

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A) You’re right, this is such a sensitive issue, but I do think it is something that needs to be addressed – just in a careful manner.

We’ve all had moments where we have thought: “I wish someone had told me…”, but how you tell someone something as sensitive as this is key.

There could be a number of reasons why your colleague is suffering from body odour issues, whether it be simple ignorance, lack of domestic skills or a health issue.

As you don’t already have a relationship with him, it’s best for you to speak to his manager and explain that you are concerned that people are talking behind his back, and that you would like him to be spoken to in a kind and discreet manner so as to keep any embarrassment to a minimum.

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It’s important that he does not feel bullied or taunted, so if you don’t feel his manager is the right person to talk to him, for whatever reason, then speak to the company’s HR manager and ask them to step in to help.

A Day In The Life Of…

Barbara McMillan, 36, is the CEO and founder of ethical and sustainable sleepwear brand, Honna. She lives in Hampshire with her podiatrist husband Tom, 36, children Lila, five, and George, two, and dog Bertie.

I wake up at…

6.30am. Unless I’m out early for a shoot or meeting, I have breakfast with Lila and George – toast with jam and coffee. I never look at my phone or emails until I’ve done the morning routine, as that family time is precious. After Tom or I drop the kids at nursery and school, I either head to our south London office or, two or three times a week, work from home. 

A normal day involves…

From around 9.45am, I check emails and social media, answer customer queries, check sales figures and manage any problems at our factory in India or our UK warehouse.

Then I’m planning, developing new styles, signing off samples or brainstorming ideas. I launched the business on Instagram in 2019, eight weeks after George was born – I’d reply to customer orders on my phone while feeding him, then he’d nap in the car en route to the post office to ship orders.

I speak with suppliers every week and we meet twice yearly to discuss new products. I’ve no background in retail or business, but a 10-year styling career gave me an understanding of branding and the creative side. Covid has scuppered visits to our factory, but we work efficiently over Zoom and send samples back and forth.

If it’s my day to collect the children, I finish at 2pm – otherwise I work until 7pm. It took a while to learn that being driven doesn’t mean working every hour of the day. I’m always finished in time to read bedtime stories.

The best part of my job is…

Having the flexibility to go to sports day, pick up the kids and work remotely.

And the worst…

With only two part-time staff, I naturally pick up tasks in production, manufacturing, marketing, finance or accounting. I love learning new things, but some days that’s exhausting!

I wind down by…

Having a bath with essential oils when the kids are in bed. I’m an insomniac, so I use a sleep spray on my pillow, put on an eye mask, set the alarm and hope for the best!

  •  For more information, visit Honnalondon.com.

Be a boss

Bossing It is Fabulous’ series about ordinary women who have launched incredible businesses.

It aims to inspire other women and show that if these ladies can do it, so can you!

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Compiled by: Claire Frost & Gemma Calvert

Karren cannot answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.

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