Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dress Codes – Part 2 – Alternatives to Dress Codes and How to Handle Giving Feedback

Credit: hr.sparkhire.com
To some degree, dress codes are a response to the discomfort of supervisors and managers who must give employees feedback. Who wants the embarrassment of pulling someone aside to tell him that his jeans are so low his underwear is showing? For managers, this is not our shining hour and we are understandably reluctant to do it.

However, giving the feedback should only have to be done once or twice before everyone understands the expectations. If the problem is generalized, hold a team meeting to clarify expectations. Ask for team input on what choices are okay and not okay in your workplace. Guidelines developed by the team for themselves will hold a lot more sway and likely get more respect than written policy developed by management or HR departments.

A comment I’ve often from some managers is that, without a written dress code policy, employees who come dressed inappropriately may argue: “Show me where it says I can’t come to work with a bare midriff and flip flops?” The supervisor feels caught, stumbles for words, admits there is no policy … hmmm. Now what?

Here’s your script, “It’s a hot day I know it. You wanted to dress com
fortably and be cool. Look around and see the clothing choices I’ve made and your co-workers have made. They look like they are at work, but they are dressed comfortably and casually. That is the standard I want you to use. We don’t need written rules because 99% of the people here dress just fine every day. And, when someone makes a mistake like you have today, it’s my job to let them know what would be a better choice. So, now I’m going to cover for you for an hour while you find a way to fix this problem. And in the future, please show up for work having made a better choice for the work required and for our workplace.”

I’ve been asked if there never a time when dress codes may be necessary? The answer is yes, in two circumstances. If a company uniform is required, even if the uniform is a white shirt and black pants, then this is a dress code, it should be in writing and it is okay. The most important dress codes are those that protect workers and customers from injury. These rules must still be reasonable however. Closed toed shoes or no sandals rules are okay in many workplaces but are overkill in some work environments. Even safety-related dress codes need to be adapted to make sense for each workplace.

Paula J. MacLean is an educator, human resource and management consultant and the author of several best-selling human resource books. Visit her website at www.silvercreekpress.ca.

No comments:

Post a Comment