I am a manager of a small team (low level manager with some training, but lacking experience) and recently was made aware that one of my staff caused distress to one of our customers with an inappropriate comment.
The comment in question was made in a warm office, my employee a male, and the comment made to a female. When the female indicated she was warm my employee said something like
"There is an inappropriate comment there, but I won't make it".
I since found out this upset the customer, and frankly I entirely understand it. While the comment wasn't "Take your clothes off" it may as well have been (And I am not interested in any answer that says this shouldn't be deemed offensive enough to act upon).
I have discussed the situation with the client, and with my manager. The client is not interested in pushing for disciplinary action and won't even actually name the employee who made the comment (we work on a client site as contractors, so if the client asked us to remove him we would have no choice).
My manager believes that all I need to do is speak to my employee about the impact this can have on people and on him, but the person in question just does not understand and fully believes that people these days are simply too sensitive. I think I have convinced him not to take the complaint as a direct attack by someone who dislikes him, but the fact I had to do that shows just how little he understands the topic.
We have a lot of online training at work, but nothing that covers this topic well - I can find training that says it is bad and should be avoided (part of our mandatory training), but nothing about how to best do that, or how to actually recognise the harm things like this can cause.
My main worry is that while he understands that he needs to be more careful with what he says, it is the consequences that worry him rather than an understanding of the topic. I feel that if I don't equip him with the tools to know how to do be careful with his language another incident like this will happen which will look bad on us as a company and likely lead to him losing his job - neither of which I want for selfish reasons.
Options off the table: 1. Asking for a training course (there isn't one available already and while I may be able to arrange one it won't happen quickly). 2. Him taking a proactive approach and learning himself.
How should I best approach this topic with the individual (or otherwise) so that I can actually help them change the things they say?