- On our impressions and productivity.
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Your appearance says a lot about how you regard others. Someone who is well dressed and groomed will command more respect than someone who is not. Today, tattoos, body piercings and facial hair are very popular among younger people. Regardless of your attitude towards them, there are still many prejudices against them in the corporate world. Understand this, the higher you go up in the corporate ladder, the more you become a visible symbol of the company you represent. If your physical appearance doesn't convey the right image, you won't be going anywhere. So, if you happen to like that new nose ring you put in, don't expect that big job promotion anytime soon. Like it or not, if you've got body art, do yourself a favor and keep it under cover. The same is true in regards to unkempt hair, facial or otherwise. If you're going to wear it, at least keep it neat and trimmed.
If you have to wear a tie to work, make sure it is contemporary as well as conservative. Learn to tie a decent knot (people tend to giggle at clip-ons) and the length is somewhat important. For example, a tie resting well above your belt buckle implies inadequacies in the individual, and a tie resting below the belt buckle implies someone prone to excess. The tip of the end of the tie should rest on the top of the belt buckle.
One last thing in terms of dress, "business casual" certainly does not include wearing T-shirts, jeans, shorts, gym shoes or sandals. If you clean up your appearance you will be surprised how people treat you.
Your desk and office space says a lot about your character. Because of this, you should make an effort to keep your physical surroundings as clean and up-to-date as possible. As an example, the military typically operates under a philosophy whereby you either work on something, store it away, or dispose of it. This forces people to be organized. There are those who would argue "A cluttered desk is the sign of a brilliant mind." Nothing could be further from the truth. A cluttered desk represents laziness and disorganization. People, particularly customers, prefer an orderly workplace. Think about it next time you go to a grocery store.
The point is, our physical surroundings affect our attitudes towards work. For example, I know of a small print shop with a manager who insists on keeping it spotless. Their paper products are packaged and shipped promptly, inventory is well stocked and maintained, waste is disposed of immediately, and the machines are routinely cleaned and kept in pristine form. Further, the printers are dressed in uniform jumpsuits to keep ink and chemicals from soiling their clothes underneath. Contrast this with the typical print shop that is often cluttered with debris and the machines are infrequently cleaned. The printers of the "clean" shop have a much more positive and professional attitude regarding their work than other printers working in "dirty" shops. Further, absenteeism is not a problem in the "clean" shop and the printers are proud of the products they produce. Basically, they see their workplace as an extension of their home and treat it as such.
As a footnote, I asked the manager of the print shop why his printers kept the facility so clean when others were so dirty. He jokingly confided in me, "They don't know any better." In reality, the manager had set operating standards and routinely inspected the premises to assure they were adhered to. Over time, it became a natural part of the print shop's culture and now he rarely has to inspect them.
Just remember, the appearance you elect to project sends subliminal messages to those around you who will treat you accordingly.
First published: September 24, 2007
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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