I’m a manager of a large team of customer service representatives. What’s the best way to address issues with inappropriate attire? If one of my employees is consistently dressing either too skimpy or too casual, what is the best way to correct the problem without causing offense?
Answer from Dana:
First, check with your Human Resources department and ask for a rundown of your company’s published dress code. From there, discuss the recommended protocol for addressing issues of inappropriate attire. As a hiring manager, I faced the same issues. Here are some guidelines from my experience:
- As the manager, it’s your job to have this conversation. Never ask HR or a peer to talk to someone about his or her clothing choices. Be direct!
- Discuss it in a more casual environment rather than in your office. Ask him or her to coffee and outline what separates those who are moving up and those who are “stuck” because of perceptions. In other words, following the dress code will help them succeed.
- All employees want promotions, money and respect. It is safest to provide attire feedback when you position it against these objectives. Try starting the conversation by asking “John, are you interested in getting promoted, taking on more responsibility, and earning more?”
- Ask, “Can I give you feedback about how to grow your career?” Start with something positive and then bring up the issue of attire. For example: “You have a great smile and I encourage you to use it in your interactions so people see your friendlier side. What we wear influences the perceptions that people have about us, too. Have you considered changing your work attire slightly to signal a more professional image?”