Haynes: Naked people have no influence

Haynes

Spring comes early here in the Deep South.  While we are just barely recovering from the troubles caused by “sneauxnado”, clothing stores are stocking their racks with spring and summer items.  If daisy dukes, flip flops, and crop tops effectively represent your business, read no further.  If, however, you rely on your employees to represent your brand and corporate culture, this article is for you.

As paraphrased from “The Czar’s Soliloquy”, Mark Twain said “Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

The world has become more casual, in speech, correspondence, office space, and clothing.  It is time to locate your business attire policy, dust it off, and give it some well needed updates.

Casual and comfortable clothes often promote cooperation, innovation, and caring.  This is why off-site, business retreat attire is casual.  However, casual and comfortable taken too far can result in a loss of credibility.  Even worse, some employees simply don’t “get it” when it comes to the word “appropriate”.

Traditional business appearance such as dark suits, conservative hair styles, and modest jewelry often give the impression of wealth, class, expertise, sternness, and authority.  Yet, taken to the extreme, the look can come across as “old school”, too formal, unapproachable, or arrogant.  

How does one find the balance of professionalism and approachableness that projects the image and culture you want your employees to display?  Often, a one-size-fits-all policy is not effective.  Instead of a company-wide policy, consider dress policies based on job categories within your industry and location.

Your employees should dress for the work they actually do. Employees that meet with clients should dress like the clients, and perhaps even a notch better.  Those that work in the office, never coming face to face with clients/customers/patients, can get away with more casual clothes.  However, more casual should not be sloppy or in any way disrespectful of co-workers.  Wearing clothing that distracts other people from their work is disrespectful.  Provide, or make available, realistic pictures of exactly what you expect and find unacceptable.  This is incredibly valuable for staff members who need a little more help understanding what is required.

The better and more appropriate you dress for the occasion, the greater your chance of influence and success.

Keep in mind, a warm and welcoming smile while wearing a stern suit still looks friendly.  The clothes make the man, or woman, yet the attitude displayed by facial expressions sets the tone for the business interaction.

Teri Haynes | Business Interactions, LLC | Improving human interactions in business