Be CLEAR when speaking with your staff

When you are attempting to explain to your staff what you mean by professional attire, business casual or casual attire, do they get it?  In other words, are you just talking at them?

giving orders

Only getting just a little overlap of thought?

(they kind of get it, but still aren’t quite hitting the mark)

little overlap

Or are you really sharing the same idea so they can carry out your idea?

same ideaIf not, maybe the explanation is missing the mark.  In most businesses & organizations, the most important component is communication.  Being able to clearly convey your thought so that it paints an identical picture in your audience’s head can be tricky.  Not impossible, but tricky.  The key is to remember that most people are visual learners.

I’ve heard many concerns and complaints from employees that the dress code is not clear.  This can easily create office tensions between employees & management as well as between fellow employees.

So how can you be more clear?  Let’s try it this way:

If you are giving orders and unsuccessfully trying to express your expectations verbally, it leaves your staff talking to one another (having side conversations about what was said) and trying to put together the puzzle of what they think you meant versus what you actually said.  Unfortunately, what they come up with may not be what you meant at all!

There is no clear-cut definition (socially anyway) of what business professional, business casual and casual are.  Don’t even get me started with semi-formal (which isn’t actually an official type of attire-you’d be better off saying dressy!)  Due to changing expectations and fashions, the lines have become very blurred.  So it’s up to management to define the tone.

Think about this.  If your company is IT, they may not have the same definition of business casual attire as a beach gift shop.  Business casual can range from a dress shirt (with or without a jacket), with or without a tie, or a polo shirt.  It may mean you can wear chinos or khakis or maybe you can wear jeans at your office & be business casual.  For ladies, business casual may mean that you can wear a dress, but it must have sleeves.  It may mean you can wear capris, but not shorts.  Some say you shouldn’t wear open toe shoes, sandals or boots of any kind.  It all depends on the business model, the nature of the job and the environment established by management or ownership.  So be clear & make sure that everyone is on the same page.  Before we move on, I’m sure there’s someone who still doesn’t get the relevance of the topic.  So, let’s look at some examples.

Some offices deem men in ties & women in button-down collared shirts as business attire:

work wear

While others say that men in collared shirts (tie optional)
& women in collarless shirts is appropriate:

 work clothes

But traditionally, professional business attire
is men and women in suits in black, navy or grey.

So what image is your business trying to convey?  Is it being explained?  Do your employees understand?  In my experience with this topic, the best way is to blend the visual & the verbal with the written.  Have a meeting where you have pictures of what is acceptable attire.   Have a meeting.  Pull out some pics of what you want, what you’ll accept & what you won’t tolerate.  Make it crystal clear.  Just be sure it’s not offensive.  If Bubba has been wearing his pants a bit too snug, don’t post up a picture of him!  Find pics of a person who’s wearing their pants too snug (same gender), but in a different age group, pant color, etc.  I have a presentation I compiled that covers all types of attire faux pas that can be addressed in the workplace.  It includes the good & the bad.  But I’m always careful about the images.  In many cases, the heads of the models are removed.  I do all I can to get my point across, but not alienate anyone.  The reception?  Quite positive!  I usually get questions about what’s appropriate.  Sometimes I’ll see an attendee hunch their friend because they’ve been trying to get them to change their attire for years!  When they see it, they get it.

Some other things to consider:

Generation gap

Culture gap

Gender differences

Economic gap

If you need help with conveying the message to your staff, please contact me to set up a free consultation.

I’m glad to help!

2 thoughts on “Be CLEAR when speaking with your staff

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