Deborah Peppard - HR Director
It’s getting cold out there and the natural desire is to don the warmest clothes you have before stepping out the front door and heading off to work. But what do these clothes look like and what do they say about you as a business leader? How do they position your business and you as an industry leader? If you are the best in your field, what difference does it make how you dress?
Well actually, it can make a massive difference and it’s all decided within two seconds!
Clothes maketh the Supplier
Recently, I needed to fly up to the Gold Coast for business and I was lucky enough to be seated next to an engaging and informative fellow traveller with whom I enjoyed a really interesting conversation. One of the topics he shared was an experience he had with using an image consultant he had brought into this business to ensure all of his employees were representing the business in the most professional way. He went on to explain that he always assesses the use of ongoing suppliers – consultants, advisors, accountants, lawyers and so on – not only on how they present when first meeting but how they continue to present themselves. He said that he had learned that there is a direct correlation between how people present and how professional they are, and how clear thinking they are and so on.
Professional or Comfy
Discussions around dress code are nothing new. Many businesses have formal dress code policies in place but sometimes we need to consciously think about how we are dressing and presenting ourselves as we slip into some casual habits over a period of time. Sometimes it’s easy to pick up that jumper we usually wear over the weekend and wear it into work – that jumper is warm and comfy after all and its starting to get really chilly. But have you noticed it’s lost its shape and covered in fluff? Unfortunately, your colleagues and clients have and they think you look sloppy. And if they consciously determine you look unkempt or even dirty, what is the subconscious telling them about your standard of work?
Like it or not, we are all judged on appearances. And that two seconds mentioned above is how quickly we all make subconscious judgements. When you meet a potential new client and you’ve been a little lax with your personal presentation, they will have made an assessment about you, your professionalism and your ability to do the job all in the blink of an eye. And they won’t even realise they’ve made that judgement! It’s a frightening thought to think you can lose business or the respect of a colleague or direct report, simply because you didn’t get the iron out!
Simple Tips to Impress
But you don’t have to look like you you’ve spent a king’s ransom to have business cred. Looking professional can be really simple:
But it goes beyond clothing as my fellow traveller explained. How you hold yourself has an incredible impact on how you will be considered – do you race around looking frazzled and overwhelmed or do you have an outwardly calm appearance that says you’ve got this? You’ll be surprised how much more control you’ll have over a situation if you maintain your decorum and stay calm – you’ll look and feel more professional and it will speak volumes to those around you who looking to you for leadership and guidance.
This doesn’t just relate to those in the office either. Just because your team work the factory floor with dirty machinery doesn’t mean they have to look like they just got out of bed. Tucking in shirts, neat hair, starting the day with freshly laundered uniforms, carrying themselves in a respectful and professional manner – anything that is effectively making an effort can put your team in the right frame of mind to deliver higher quality work as they take pride in themselves and how they present in the workplace.
Is it fair that we are judged on outward appearances? Probably not – especially when you really are the best in the business. But think about it this way – when you get yourself all dressed up for a night out and you check yourself in the mirror and you look great, note how confident you feel. It’s the same when you take time with your personal presentation at work – you will feel more confident, more in control and you will project this self-assurance outwardly and others will notice.
If you need advice on implementing a dress code policy, talk to the HR Staff n’ Stuff team – we are here to help when you need us.
The HR Staff n' Stuff team all contribute to our blogs. Enjoy the read!