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I work for a small company and recently hired a new employee when one of our senior employees resigned. He wasn't the ideal candidate for the job but we ended up hiring anyways since we were really struggling to cover the duties of the resigned employee and in a desperate situation to find a replacement.

Now that he is hired, he is a very friendly and easy-going person but clearly has no clue about how to make conversations at a professional level with clients, boss, or coworkers. He literally speaks his mind and just says whatever comes in his mouth regardless of the environment or situation, thinking it's funny.

For instance, on one occasion he told our clients, "if we get paid some extra money maybe we will think about supporting the new project" or something along those lines as a joke which is clearly not how you talk to or negotiate with clients. And clearly it's not his job to talk about money with our clients anyways. He is just a new hire.

Now we are planning to hire a second person to replace another senior employee who will be retiring soon. It's a complicated scenario since the senior employee is not physically fit to perform his duties due to old age and going through a tough situation with the idea of retiring. Then this new guy sits here and makes a joke about it saying "unfortunately we don't have a choice but kick you out" again as if it's funny. I don't want to lose this new guy as well, so I am not sure how to address him about his behavior, especially his awkward and unprofessional comments which he thinks are funny.

He even made similar comments to the boss stating "he really appreciate 10% raise in salary for a job well done", when the boss congratulated him on his hard work, indirectly hinting he wants more money and not just mere appreciation. This incident happened during a weekly meeting with other employees present.

Being a small company, we can't afford losing employees, but this kind of immature and unprofessional behavior is not appreciated either.

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    Are you his supervisor or manager of some sort? Or is he just your fellow coworker? – DarkCygnus Oct 23 at 21:48
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    @DarkCygnus - Fellow coworker, but senior guy compared to him. With the other guy leaving, I will be in charge though we are all just coworkers. – yonikawa Oct 23 at 21:51
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    Why let him near clients before you have even trained him? – Solar Mike Oct 24 at 5:08
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    Sounds like you habitually fail to engage in workforce or succession planning - meaning that when elderly seniors fall off the perch there is no experienced, trusted deputy to immediately fill their shoes. – Steve Oct 24 at 7:40
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    @SolarMike - we don't have a choice, we are a pretty small company. He's a middle aged employee, one wouldn't expect this behavior from an experienced person like this, maybe I am wrong. – yonikawa Oct 24 at 14:36
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Normally I'd say to stay out of it. If you're not this person's manager then addressing their behaviour isn't really your responsibility. Trying to 'fix' this will have little upside for you and have a good chance of backfiring.

The exception here is when you're with him in a meeting with clients. If it's just the two of you with no manager present, that makes you (unofficially and perhaps subconsciously) the senior person in the client's and management's eyes. Whether it's fair or not any unprofessional behaviour will reflect on you. This puts you in the unenviable position of having (unofficial) responsibility but no authority (official or otherwise).

You can't really tell the new hire how or how not to act. If a manager is present at these client meetings, see first paragraph. If not, use your best judgement as to whether it's possible and how to nudge new hire in the direction you want. Maybe something like "The clients don't seem to appreciate your brand of humour." As @DarkCygnus mentioned, do this in private and only right after the incident.

Ultimately though, this is up to management to fix. If you think that the way new hire is acting affects your work or the company's relationships with the clients, you have to take it up with them (management). Depending on how off-putting new hire's comments are, you might want to do this sooner rather than later. If the comments are egregious you want the boss to hear it from you first, rather than from an irate client.

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  • I love to mind my own business, but with our company size, I have to address this if not this behavior won't stop and that would be bad in maintaining our work relationship.As I posted above, it's an experienced middle aged employee acting like this who clearly lack social skills. – yonikawa Oct 24 at 14:42
  • @yonikawa, since you emphasise the small size of the company, what is the salary offer like? Is it comparable to the remuneration of the person being replaced? I just wonder whether the problem is not necessarily social skills, but the relationship between the company and this new employee. I've seen it happen before in small companies where they look to replace a director with a low-pay employee who is also granted little status, and then wonder why it doesn't work. – Steve Oct 24 at 16:50
  • @Steve - I don’t think that’s the case here. He simply don’t have control over his mouth. He’s more like a chatterbox who gives a 5 minute lecture about the English alphabets first if you simply ask his name? – yonikawa Oct 24 at 19:56
  • @yonikawa, could there be a case for just tolerating him then? If he's a pleasant sort overall and not dislikeable, then other people might detect that he is simply eccentric or irreverent (from what you describe), and not take things too seriously. – Steve Oct 24 at 21:50
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    @yonikawa As a young, fresh-faced autistic person in a small company, I also made the mistake of bringing up money in a demo with a 3rd party when I was nowhere near the most senior person in the room. After the meeting, said senior person took me aside and explained in very blunt terms that money, contracts, rates etc. are something you do not unilaterally bring up unless you have the authority to negotiate those kinds of things. I found the advice very useful at the time. Maybe your person will as well. – Kaz Oct 26 at 14:55
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I don't want to lose this new guy as well so I am not sure how to address him about his behavior especially his awkward and unprofessional comments which he thinks is funny.

In your comments you state that you are not this person's manager, supervisor, boss, or whatsoever.

So, given that, this is really not your problem or something you should be doing: this is something that corresponds to whoever is the manager/supervisor of this coworker of yours.

You coming up to this person and addressing this may not be much recommended, as (1) it's not your job/role as already mentioned and (2) this person may not take it in a positive or constructive way, giving room for issues. It's also likely that this person's manager is already aware (or is starting to notice) this behavior, and they will/should decide how and when to address this with this person.

Like I said, I wouldn't recommend to take on the task to educate this coworker or to address this issue with them. However, if you feel compelled to do so and ignore my suggestion, then I would suggest you correct the behavior when it happens.

That is, next time this person mentions money or similar when talking to clients, politely and privately mention to them "Hey, when talking to clients we don't discuss money, and we try to be more respectful. Please keep that in mind for next time.", or whatever the issue was and applies to that situation.

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  • Its a small company, so boss is out of state and not aware of our daily work updates. I have to address this situation or bring it up to the boss which would further escalate or offend the new guy. – yonikawa Oct 23 at 22:03
  • Either way this person may be offended, and thus why I suggested not to do this as it may result in tension or problems to you. Seems that the case-by-case approach I suggested (while being polite and in private) is a good option for you, but in reality this is something that this person's manager should be doing... if the manager/boss is not there to assess each person and their performance and be able to correct these sort of issues, then that unfortunately is a case of bad management (one of the disadvantages of manager not being present) – DarkCygnus Oct 23 at 22:09
  • Furthermore, if these sort of behaviors happen often and continue happening despite your efforts, then bringing this to your boss would be the only thing left to do, so they can do their work (manage people) – DarkCygnus Oct 23 at 22:13
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    Addressing it may not be OP's role but the new person's behaviour will (perhaps unfairly) reflect on OP. – jcm Oct 24 at 1:25
  • @jcm how so? If you want to add something else or a different point of view there's plenty of room for more answers. I even suggested a professional approach to address this if OP decides to take hands on the matter – DarkCygnus Oct 24 at 2:12
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Based on your name, I'm guessing you're Japanese. Based on some of the comments you've made in other answers, my guess is this coworker is not, and furthermore is probably from the West. This is important, because work culture in Japan is very very different from other countries.

As a Westerner with an interest in Japanese culture, I know both sides of this story. In the West, it's encouraged to have a friendly and casual relationship with clients, and joke with them and make lighthearted comments. While I wouldn't say something like "pay me more money and I'll consider your request" normally, I would also not say it's completely out of the question that there might exist a situation where I might make such a comment in jest (I can't think of such a situation, but I also won't say absolutely that the situation doesn't exist).

Conversely, business in Japan tends to be very cold and rigid and without feeling. This is considered "professional" in Japan, and clients expect this kind of relationship, and find it to be rude any other way. You would never even make a joke with a client, nevermind an off-color joke like "pay me more money and I'll do what you want", because that's the culture: It's disrespectful to make a joke, and it's even more disrespectful to make a sarcastic, off-color joke that is easily misunderstood (which many Western jokes often are in Japan, as is my experience associating with Japanese people; I often find myself explaining what sarcasm is to Japanese people and how it works in Western culture, because Japan doesn't have a similar culture to that).

If this person is a new hire and is new to Japanese work culture, you may want to educate him in how Japanese work culture works and how it's different from Western work culture. Let him know, respectfully, that making jokes with clients isn't appreciated in Japanese culture and to treat his meeting time with clients more seriously. It's likely this person simply does not understand the culture, and if he's given some context, he'll fix the problem and shape up.

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