Karren Brady’s career advice for having an awkward conversation with a colleague

APPRENTICE star and West Ham United Vice-Chairman Karren Brady answers your career questions and meets an inspiring CEO.

Here she gives a reader tips for having an awkward conversation with a former colleague who joined your office.


Karren Brady, Baroness Brady, CBE is a British business executive and television personality

Q) I once shared a story about an embarrassing incident that happened to a former co-worker at a Christmas party, and now that person has gotten a job at my current office in a managerial position – although he not be my direct superior – which is really embarrassing!

It won’t take long for my co-workers to say he was the person in the story, as he has a very distinctive name (I’m more of a fool for leaking it!).

I’m sure everyone is professional enough not to openly tease him in the office, but sometimes we go for after-work drinks together and I’d be mortified if he heard any gossip about her.

Do you think I should say something to warn him, or just hope that my colleagues can be more discreet than me?

Nicholas, by e-mail

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A) You chatted about your former colleague for a laugh, not thinking it would ever come back to haunt you…and now it does.

You must therefore take control of the situation and make it your own.

Take your colleague aside and be honest.

Explain that you have told some of your new colleagues about the incident and that you are truly sorry.

Now you can only be genuine and sorry, and hope he forgives you.

Giving him a head held high also gives him the chance to deal with the problem head-on rather than being in the dark and feeling potentially betrayed.

Also, since he’s in a leadership position, it’s only fair that he be aware that some of his reports have heard the story, and then he can decide for himself how to handle it.

Your conversation will probably be uncomfortable, but you should approach it as soon as possible.

A day in the life of…

Gail Waterman, 50, is the co-founder of Watermans luxury hair growth products. She lives in Sheffield with her husband Matt, 48, and their sons Luca, 16, and Marco, 14.

I wake up at…

6:40 a.m. Once I’ve showered and fed our 13 dogs, I’ll cook the boys’ breakfast, before driving 40 minutes to school.

On the way home, I call my accountant, our manufacturer or our distributors.

After eating some eggs, Matt drives us to our offices in Rotherham and I spend the 20 minute journey emailing.

A normal day involves…

Twelve years ago we started the business after creating a cream to solve my own problem with hormonal hair loss, and Matt and I still oversee everything.

Having run a hair salon for 22 years, my skills are in HR, PR and finance, Matt handles sales and marketing and we collaborate on social media content and product design.

No matter how I work on my to-do list, problems arise, such as labels coming off shampoo bottles or a poorly printed barcode.

Last week we sold 40,000 bottles of shampoo, so we had to quickly produce another batch. When I have a product idea,

I research ingredients, then ask our manufacturer to create a sample, which is tested for three months.

If it works, we will evaluate it before starting production. It can take a year to bring an idea to fruition, so patience is crucial.

I never take a lunch break, because I leave at 3 p.m. for the school bus, making calls all the way. Once I’ve made the kids’ tea, I’m back on the laptop to edit the social posts.

The best part of my job is…

After having Luca, I would cry to sleep over my hair loss. It’s amazing that I help other people who have the same problem, including chemotherapy patients.

We are sending free batches of shampoo to seven hospital departments across the country.

And the worst…

Not having enough time to focus on developing the next hair product!

There is always so much to do. I run at 100 mph. There is rarely time for me!

I relax by…

I run a bath and post a meditation recording on YouTube – I find it really relaxing.

Visit Watermanshair.com.

Karren cannot respond to emails personally.

The content is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.