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kevin
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Joined: Sat Dec 02, 2000 5:03 am

Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Thu Jan 13, 2022 7:39 pm

Hi everyone,

I have just received a comment from one of our customers (written in an email) which says "I do not care what X says about you, I think you are great".

Basically, he told me that another company employee from my team is badmouthing me to a customer. how do I deal with that? I mean what makes me angry here is that it's not an internal company thing. He is doing it with customers. I do not really what to bring it up to HR, but do I have to?

Thank you
 
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casinterest
Posts: 15202
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2005 5:30 am

Re: Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Thu Jan 13, 2022 7:45 pm

Is this a customer that likes to joke around, or is there already friction between you and your coworker?

I have had customers that do this, but I know they are joking around.

Have they praised you before?

You should forward to management/HR, but you need some more details, otherwise they are going to ask the same things.
 
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Dutchy
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Re: Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Thu Jan 13, 2022 8:43 pm

kevin wrote:
Basically, he told me that another company employee from my team is badmouthing me to a customer.


Oh, this is not done. Whatever the problem is, it is internal, not for someone from outside the company, certainly not a customer. If some employee from my would do this, he would be sacked on the spot. Basically bad-mouthing a fellow employee, makes a customer look less favorable towards your company. It doesn't matter what the issue is, it doesn't matter if one makes a mistake, to customers you need to back each other up, no questions asked. One needs to feel safe by your co-workers to have a good performance.

So yeah, this would be taken very seriously by your employer, I would guess.

These are my two cents, from an employers point of view 8-)

For you, as an employee, I guess it all depends on what you want within the company, with your relationship is with the co-worker in question etc. My advice is you need to act and react in some way: firstly to your customer. I do not know where you're from. In the Netherlands, I would confront the co-worker in question, and perhaps I would discuss it with my direct boss. I don't know the local ethics of course, so I cannot offer you my advice on that.

Anyhow very difficult circumstances which are not created by you, but you have to deal with them. Good luck!
 
bpatus297
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Re: Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Thu Jan 13, 2022 8:57 pm

casinterest wrote:
Is this a customer that likes to joke around, or is there already friction between you and your coworker?

I have had customers that do this, but I know they are joking around.

Have they praised you before?

You should forward to management/HR, but you need some more details, otherwise they are going to ask the same things.


I agree, this person could very well have been joking around. If not, the other employee needs to be spoken too.
 
jetwet1
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Re: Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:00 pm

Get your supervisor up to speed on the situation, as Dutchy points out, it doesn't matter what's going on inside the company, it stays inside. To take whatever the situation is to a customer just makes the company look bad.
 
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golfradio
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Re: Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:07 pm

What is your role? Are you in sales? I know customers to play sales reps against each other to get a better deal.
 
IADCA
Posts: 2561
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 12:24 am

Re: Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:56 pm

kevin wrote:
Hi everyone,

I have just received a comment from one of our customers (written in an email) which says "I do not care what X says about you, I think you are great".

Basically, he told me that another company employee from my team is badmouthing me to a customer. how do I deal with that? I mean what makes me angry here is that it's not an internal company thing. He is doing it with customers. I do not really what to bring it up to HR, but do I have to?

Thank you


Your management needs to see that email. In my case, it was the customer who brought a similar communication to my attention (and it was clear that the person wasn't joking). The little weasel who badmouthed an employee (and by extension, the entire company) to a customer was employed by our company for around ten seconds beyond what it took to get the email under the nose of someone with termination authority.

Aside from criminal activity, I don't think I've ever been involved in such an easy call to fire someone. Your colleague richly deserves the same fate.
 
meecrob
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Re: Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Fri Jan 14, 2022 12:02 am

IADCA wrote:
Your management needs to see that email. In my case, it was the customer who brought a similar communication to my attention (and it was clear that the person wasn't joking). The little weasel who badmouthed an employee (and by extension, the entire company) to a customer was employed by our company for around ten seconds beyond what it took to get the email under the nose of someone with termination authority.

Aside from criminal activity, I don't think I've ever been involved in such an easy call to fire someone. Your colleague richly deserves the same fate.


No, they do not deserve the same fate whatsoever! All the information we have is that a comment was made to a customer, which then got back to the OP. Unless you know what happened in that sequence of events, let's cool it with the calls to fire people. There is a reason proper workplaces have a sequence of escalation of disciplinary actions. Verbal warning, then written, then possible termination. Just because you had an open and shut case at your place of employment does not mean anything with regards to this scenario other than there seems to be an employee making internal issues external.
 
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Aaron747
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Re: Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Fri Jan 14, 2022 12:47 am

meecrob wrote:
IADCA wrote:
Your management needs to see that email. In my case, it was the customer who brought a similar communication to my attention (and it was clear that the person wasn't joking). The little weasel who badmouthed an employee (and by extension, the entire company) to a customer was employed by our company for around ten seconds beyond what it took to get the email under the nose of someone with termination authority.

Aside from criminal activity, I don't think I've ever been involved in such an easy call to fire someone. Your colleague richly deserves the same fate.


No, they do not deserve the same fate whatsoever! All the information we have is that a comment was made to a customer, which then got back to the OP. Unless you know what happened in that sequence of events, let's cool it with the calls to fire people. There is a reason proper workplaces have a sequence of escalation of disciplinary actions. Verbal warning, then written, then possible termination. Just because you had an open and shut case at your place of employment does not mean anything with regards to this scenario other than there seems to be an employee making internal issues external.


All true, but equally true the possibility remains here that the colleague has flagrantly violated work rules.
 
stlgph
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Re: Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:00 am

do you see this customer often or interact with them? can you get more context?

at the end of the day, you're there, we're not, so you clearly know more about this situation than we do, but ultimately, is this something or a situation that is *REALLY* that concerning or is it a big muchado about nothing and you're taking something, some comradery or some unique established rhetoric/relationship the wrong way.

as i always approach it: "be smarter than the situation" and make your decision from there.
 
IADCA
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Re: Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:14 am

meecrob wrote:
IADCA wrote:
Your management needs to see that email. In my case, it was the customer who brought a similar communication to my attention (and it was clear that the person wasn't joking). The little weasel who badmouthed an employee (and by extension, the entire company) to a customer was employed by our company for around ten seconds beyond what it took to get the email under the nose of someone with termination authority.

Aside from criminal activity, I don't think I've ever been involved in such an easy call to fire someone. Your colleague richly deserves the same fate.


No, they do not deserve the same fate whatsoever! All the information we have is that a comment was made to a customer, which then got back to the OP. Unless you know what happened in that sequence of events, let's cool it with the calls to fire people. There is a reason proper workplaces have a sequence of escalation of disciplinary actions. Verbal warning, then written, then possible termination. Just because you had an open and shut case at your place of employment does not mean anything with regards to this scenario other than there seems to be an employee making internal issues external.


And my point is that that action is a fireable offense many places, even for an employee with no previous issues. Anyone stupid or psychopathic enough to badmouth coworkers to the company's customers isn't cut out for working in customer-facing teams. I understand your opinion differs, but even in a context in which we employ escalating discipline like you described for many workplace issues, that one's a one-strike-and-you're out and I don't have much heartburn about it. Someone who has the personality to do something like that even once is not someone I wish to employ or work with.
 
cpd
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Re: Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:05 am

kevin wrote:
Hi everyone,

I have just received a comment from one of our customers (written in an email) which says "I do not care what X says about you, I think you are great".

Basically, he told me that another company employee from my team is badmouthing me to a customer. how do I deal with that? I mean what makes me angry here is that it's not an internal company thing. He is doing it with customers. I do not really what to bring it up to HR, but do I have to?

Thank you


This email should be taken to the relevant supervisor(s) and or human resources. That is extremely unprofessional conduct and it negatively impacts the reputation of the company. This should never happen and if I were the supervisor I can assure you I'd be having a meeting with the other team member about it to explain to them that this is absolutely not okay.

Dismissing that person is one thing, but it also needs work to adjust the behaviour of that person so they don't just go and do it again in a more careful/sneaky way or carry on with that somewhere else.

This also poisons the work environment and the good relationships everyone should have with their colleagues.

Looking at the book of Peter Falk (33 years at Porsche) one of the biggest things you see there is the excellent working relationships he had with his people and the great ways of working they had. The people were very dedicated and uncomplicated in the way they did their jobs in often very inhospitable and austere locations (eg, in the deserts of foreign countries). Irrespective of rank or job-title, everyone did the humble tasks as well and they all sat down together for dinner each night, nobody had his own special arrangements because he was some very high up executive, that wasn't done or allowed. This is how things should be.
 
Virtual737
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Joined: Tue Jul 19, 2016 6:16 am

Re: Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:23 am

I'd speak to the customer before doing anything else. Not directly about the possible comment from the co-worker, but to get that into the convo somehow. In English more than most other languages, body language, tone and many other things are far more important than actual words, so it's far too easy to take an email, a forum post, a letter or anything else where there is not verbal/visual communication in literally the opposite way from what the writer intended. Also part of the reason why HR comms are often written so matter of fact (all business and boring) - they need to make sure the point is crystal clear all the time.

So for me, in England, this could easily be all in jest (from either the customer or the colleague) or a smack-in-the-mouthable offense.
 
flybaurlax
Posts: 667
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Re: Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Wed Jan 19, 2022 5:05 pm

If you have a light hearted relationship with the colleague and the customer, I would take it as a joke. If there was no history of any previous jokes, talk to your colleague. We often jumpt to conclusions or read messages when tone was not conveyed properly. A simple conversation often clarifies things quickly. I'm of the opinion that we as a society have stopped talking to each other and just go about reporting behavior or video recording it, versus talking to an individual when something doesn't make sense to us. I think we get offended way too easily before realizing it's a misunderstanding.

If it turns out that it's not a joke, then sure go forward with talking to HR, etc, but give the person the benefit of the doubt. I have a colleague that I get along with really well, and we joke around with each other all the time, even in front of or with our suppliers. We only do so if we can gauge the other person understands it's all jokes. If an outsider walked in, it would be fair to say they would be tempted to call HR on us. However, since it's a mutual understanding and no one is actually offended, we enjoy our workplace.
 
bennett123
Posts: 11080
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2004 12:49 am

Re: Colleague badmouthing me to customer. Best way to handle.

Wed Jan 19, 2022 5:30 pm

Based on the tone of the OP, who clearly isn't taking this as a joke, my reaction is to speak to your TM or HR.

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