Troll Dilemma

So, here’s the dilemma. You work with a woman, Imelda, whom you believe the song ‘What’s that comin’ over the hill? Is it a Monster? Is it a Monster?’ was written for. You manage Imelda, but you inherited her, and she’s been allowed to get away with looking part-troll for about 20 years. Imelda is only 38 but looks about 60 because she is large (but not huge), overbearing and scary, wears her straggly, wiry hair in an unkempt ponytail or tightly-wound bun, and has facial hair, including a moustache and mutton-chop side-burns. I’m not kidding. Add to that her distinct lack of attention to detail regarding her clothing – she often presents as an unpressed, discoloured and mis-shapen blob.

The team have been encouraged to move over to a fresh new uniform, that makes them look efficient and modern, but Imelda has stuck to wearing the old one, and seems not to notice that she looks weird, and that children are running away from her.

Despite all this, Imelda is a valuable team member, she has a heart of gold, but she just looks a state, and people are reluctant to upset her because she does work so hard, but they are starting to exclude her from things because her image is not what we want to portray in what is a 90% customer-facing activity, where staff deal with vulnerable people who approach us in need of help.

As if that weren’t bad enough, we’re all volunteers. Staff and managers alike, we don’t get paid.

So my question to you is: As the manager of the team – what would you do?




5 Responses to “Troll Dilemma”

  1. 1 E 18 May 2008 at 11:11 pm

    I guess i would just let it go. Especially since it’s a volunteer position. If you were good friends with her, it might be easier to get her to go shopping with you or to go on a fun girl’s trip to a spa or salon or something, but if you’re not that close, it might be kind of a weird offer. haha.

    If she’s sweet and a hardworker, i guess those are the most important things.

  2. 2 hoverfrog 19 May 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Customer facing roles are tricky. Appearance shouldn’t matter as it really has no effect on ability but people judge others on their first impression, that includes companies. I’d move her to a back office or training role.

  3. 3 hoverfrog 19 May 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I should add that I’d obviously talk it over first but make it neutral and talk about uniform and style rather than my opinion that she’s a fugly. I wouldn’t want to be rude or insensitive. Not too much.

  4. 4 Monodic 19 June 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Monodic!!

  5. 5 drunkenspaniel 21 June 2008 at 8:05 am

    Monodic, why do I think you might be sinister or even spam?

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