Sophie Evans - HR Professional
Did you know it only takes a few seconds to form a first impression of someone and you really only get one shot at it? In many cases people will likely form an impression of you before you‘ve even had a chance to say hello and if that impression is “not favourable”, it can take hard work to overturn. Whether you are in front of your colleagues, your peers at a networking event, your direct reports or with a client, presentation matters, and it directly impacts your ability to be taken seriously. It’s pretty powerful stuff so how do you make a positive and professional impression?
Dress for occasion….
When we talk about presentation it is not just about office or corporate attire. We would not expect an electrician to turn up to your house in suit and tie or a mortgage broker to show up in boardshorts and a t-shirt. It is as simple as good personal hygiene and clean appropriate attire suitable for your role.
When you are dressing or grooming, consider what it says about you and whether it's in line with the message you want to communicate. There's no right or wrong. It's all about context, making the correct choices and putting in some effort when making them. If you are holding a staff meeting to impart some serious company news, then looking and dressing like a leader who knows their stuff is important. Meeting with potential clients to do a deal that could change your business model – dress to show that you care about their business and your own – and that you are a business person capable of doing the deal. However, if you’re running a team building event with your team running around a park, then dress to show you are one of them, and part of the team. Jeans and t-shirt are the way to go – not your normal office wear…..
Good reasons to dress the part:
How dressing the part affects you:
There are proven studies that shows people who take care to dress appropriately for their job and with care have more confidence, feel more powerful, and are more focused on details. More importantly, people perceive someone who is well dressed as a leader and will go to them for support at a faster rate than those who show no care for their personal presentation.
Working from home
What if you work from home? Can I wear my pyjamas? Do I need to have a shower and do my hair?
The bottom line is that you should take just as much care of your personal presentation even when you are working from home. It does not mean you need to get into your full office attire, but it is important that your daily routine of showering and getting dressed is maintained as this will positively impact on your working day, it also assures that you are ready to go at any time should the need arise for a video meeting. Your team may get a giggle out of seeing their manager in their PJ’s but it doesn’t do much for your authority if you need to call on that, nor would it show a client that you care much about their business.
2020 has changed the way we all work, and many businesses will continue to allow remote working at some level even after the pandemic concerns subside. This is where you must take the lead with your team and set the tone in terms of what is expected even when working from home. As a leader, you need to stay on top of your game and ensure you continue to present yourself in a professional manner. Your team will follow your lead so if you log into a Zoom meeting like you just crawled out of bed, they will consider it acceptable to also do so.. Imagine the flow on affect from that in terms of work ethic, morale, lowered expectations of themselves and their work product. The impact could be highly detrimental but completely avoidable with a swish of a brush, a work appropriate ensemble and a professional attitude!
Taking this another step, 2020 has led to client meetings being held as video conferences rather than as face to face catch ups as well. There is no doubt this will continue especially while there are restrictions on border movements within Australia and for overseas travel. It is imperative that you have your A Game on in these situations and dress in a manner appropriate for the industry and for the client. Face to face or online, you are still representing your business and it is up to you to determine how you want your company to be perceived and whether or not a current or potential client will have confidence in your capacity to deliver.
Tidy Desk, Tidy Mind
We’ve talked about personal grooming and clothes but what about your workspace? Again, it’s all about perception and an out of control desk or office area can impact how you or your business is judged. It comes back to how quickly we all make judgements on the information our eyes are absorbing. If a potential new client walks into your business and your employees have left their workspaces looking grubby, or desks are in a state of disorder it takes only microseconds for a negative judgement to be formed. And those microseconds will cost you money.
Your physical environment also has an impact on your productivity and the quality of work produced. Many studies have shown that our brains like order and a cluttered, disorganised workspace will be distracting and stressful so it’s important to establish a clear desk or clean workspace stance. Establish the expectation – set a policy if necessary – and then live the example as the business leader. Make your team responsible for their own spaces and ensure they understand this is a non-negotiable professional behaviour standard within the company.
How does it go so wrong?
Sometimes even the simplest of things can also affect your presentation but can have an impact on how you are perceived.
Easy mistakes people make:
Managing employee presentation
We know this is sometimes a tricky subject and most people would rather poke themselves in the eye then have a conversation with a team member about their presentation or offensive body odour. We suggest the following:
If you are looking to address concerns regarding presentation in your business and need support, contact the HR Staff n’ Stuff team and we can guide you based on the individual needs of your business.
The HR Staff n' Stuff team all contribute to our blogs. Enjoy the read!