The other day, I attended an onboarding session that teaches new hires the history and structure of the company, and also a high-level overview of product architecture, pricing and support contract types. This event happens several times a year and is always held by the same colleague; let's call her Alice.
All in all, the session was okay. Alice has a lively, engaging style of presenting that involved anecdotes and the occasional gag. She also tried to inject some interactivity to avoid a boring, teacher-to-pupils like lecture atmosphere.
Alice is mumbling. She speaks loud enough, but she doesn't drop her lower jaw enough to articulate the words very clearly.
I know that this is a problem because in casual conversation among smaller groups during breaks, several other attendees mentioned it. Yet in the session itself, nobody ever asked Alice to repeat something, or indicated they could not understand her very well.
Maybe people (new hires & existing colleagues) don't really tell Alice there is a problem because of these facts:
- Alice is the head of the sales department
- She was with the company nearly from the start, more than a dozen years ago.
- Up until recently, she was the wife to one of the CEOs (they parted amicably). Her last name hints at it, so she even mentions it briefly in the onboarding session.
Also, as Alice has a very strong personality, people may simply not have the guts to tell her.
I really want to do something about it because I feel that the situation is bad for the company. However, Alice has just met me, so I don't want her to remember me as the guy who was nitpicking/critizing her.
So how can I make her aware of it in a polite and constructive way?
- I could talk to her in private (or more likely via chat as she is based in another location). How would I go about this to not insult her or sound condescending?
- I could include my concerns about her mumbling in the feedback about the session content I plan to give to Jane, the HR assistant organizing the onboarding process as a whole (which also has other sessions). My idea was that Jane maybe knows better how to approach her.
- I am not a new hire, but part of the management of a much smaller subsidiary company that was acquired a few years ago. Some of my colleages and I attended the event because our company recently moved in with the parent company, and Jane from HR suggested we attend because we might catch some things that are new to us.