I had a discussion recently on dress and appearance in the workplace, I thought that I would devote this month’s newsletter to how we look when are in public and in particular at work. This is a continuing discussion amongst professionals and has evolved over the past few years. So I beg your forgiveness if you disagree with me, as dress is a very personal thing. But is it in the workplace?
I recently consulted with a communications expert on this topic and this is a person who has dealt with a lot of people in all kinds of walks of life for many years. We were discussing how your appearance makes a difference to how others perceive you and he stressed that if you dress change small things in your appearance it will not make a difference. However, if one were to radically change their wardrobe or appearance, people would wonder why and treat that person differently.
Many companies have various dress codes depending on whom the employees interact with at any given time. The favourite comparisons are with those software companies who always dress casually. I once listened to a talk show about this and a person phoned in to say that he was sitting at his desk with a t-shirt and shorts and wearing sandals. When the host of the show expressed surprise, the individual told the show that he owned the company and that he did not care what his employees wore at work as long as they were decent. But he also said that everyone of his employees had a three-piece suit hanging in their workplace and if a major client decided that they needed to talk to one of them, the suit came on.
Some companies or organizations want their employees in such dress as golf shirts, nice pants appropriate shoes. Other firms want suits and dresses to present a professional appearance. The trick is not to over or under dress for your work place and to keep in mind always that others will appraise your company and individuals by the way they dress. And if you are to wear jeans, please have them clean and relatively new. Casual dress is not an excuse to dress slovenly. One more tip- if you are the boss, you set the example. Again, don’t overdress and expect your employees to follow (pardon the pun) suit. But if you under dress, you can’t criticize if your employees look like they came just in from working in the yard.
Before you leave for work, look in the mirror and ask yourself “am I dressed for the job I have or the one I want?” The bottom line is that if you dress for success, then you will always be sure that others will notice.