Q. We have a “stinky employee” problem. How do I go about telling this person that she has a horrible smell and it's now affecting some of my other staff? —S.H., Washington
A. First, you should confront the issue. Waiting around until an inappropriate confrontation occurs is the worst thing you can do. It’s important to discuss this issue privately and in person.
Don’t skirt the issue by sending an e-mail or dropping an air fresher on the person’s desk. Focus on the problem as a work-related (not personal) disruption. Explain that the odor is disrupting the workplace and must be dealt with. Then let the employee fix the problem; don’t be drawn into a detailed discussion of deodorants, showering methods or religious customs.
Check back in a couple weeks to reinforce the previous discussion and show appreciation for the changes.