Casual Friday Dress Code -May Undermining Your Business Objectives
- And How To Ensure It Doesn’t -
It’s Casual Friday! We all love it. No tie, no jacket, no shirt, no slacks, no nothing… “Yeah!!” And the weekend is near. Let’s dress down as much as we can. My 15 year old t-shirt is still good enough to be casual. Never mind the few holes it already shows. My jeans can also have holes. No problem, right?
Is this an actual situation in your office? Are you in a multinational industrial firm or a consultancy firm? Just stop reading further if you are developing geek softwares and work only with geeks. With geeks you can already be happy if they don’t show up in their long johns to work. But if your accountants and consultants or even your partners run around like this, it is time to start worrying about the future of your business.
Why does dressing matter? Because it shows the respect you have for your clients or customers, to your fellow workers, to your bosses and as a boss to your team members. If you dress down, others may follow and this may not be a good thing. Dressing also gives you status, as a person and as a company. Of course if people are well dressed, it doesn’t mean they are more competent than others per se, but it will give a better impression on first contact, for sure. Customers or vendors will also treat you with more respect. Not intentionally, but unintentionally. It is just harder to call a well dressed person names than any sloppily dressed person. This is deep inside of all of us. Why? Because a well dressed person represents status and hierarchy. And you think twice before messing with a person who in perception has a higher status and hierarchy than yourself. Do you ever wonder why soldiers wear uniform? You can see their hierarchy in badges of what rank they represent, and their Special Forces badge or achievement badges represent the status of these soldiers. It is very similar, when it comes to business dressing.
So, what can you do in case you want your staff to dress up, even on Casual Fridays, but the sloppiness bug is already immanent in your office while your staff sees wearing jeans with holes and sandals without socks on a Friday as their customary right?
You can have a meeting with your HR Department and tell them to change it and enforce your corporate dress code guide. They will send an email around; reminding everyone what the dress code of the company is, with the corporate dress code guide attached. And, what will happen? Most probably nothing much. Maybe for 2-4 weeks you will see a bit of improvement, but it will go back to square one pretty fast.
As usual, the Senior Management has to change first and ensure that they are always dressed according to the dress code and to make it a point not to dress down on Fridays or at least follow the dress code guide strictly. Then you get your Department Heads in and tell them to follow your example. Then you use your next ‘town hall’ meeting to encourage all your staff to follow the Senior Management and Department Heads explaining the reasons why. Show an upgraded dress code guide. Something easy to understand, and easy to follow. And again, explain why this is important for their personal career and for the good of the company as well. Make everyone sign the dress code to acknowledge that they will follow it. Even when this has no real legal means, but typically human beings act differently after they signed something, rather than just getting a verbal advice.
If this is all of no success to some, than it is time to show some strength and implement tougher measures. Send them home to dress up appropriately in case a clear violation is seen. One person is probably more than enough as an example. The word will spread very fast around the office and others will make sure it doesn’t happen to them.
Here are the main reasons to dress up professionally at all times:
You increase your own self esteem
Your status and hierarchy level will be perceived higher
You show a higher grade of respect to customers and vendors
The whole company will be perceived with a higher status and this results to a higher evaluation of your company
Now I am sure some people will say that this is all ‘crap’, and as long as you are good at what you do, you can get away with almost everything. Look at Mr. Zuckerberg and others alike. Of course, they have a point. If you have a sort of ‘monopoly’ in hand, you can do almost anything you want. But keep in mind that even Mr. Zuckerberg abandoned his ‘Adiletten’ - German nickname for Adidas rubber slippers (and it is not meant in a nice way) which he wore barefooted. He now wears socks and shoes, at last.
Dressing up does not make you a successful business person per se, but it can play an important role in gaining respect and status while negotiating or dealing with other people around you. Making a good first impression and keeping this good impression up is for sure a good start to any ‘business’ relationship. Try it, and you will understand.
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