I’m finding myself getting pissed off at the way my staff dress. They come into my web design agency looking like they’ve slept in their clothes.
I want to have an informal, creative environment, but I’m conscious that as a start-up we have to squeeze clients into the communal working area and it’s not a great look. What should I do?
An owner getting “pissed off” about anything isn’t a good look. Lead and others follow.
Be inconsistent or angry and you lose people. They may stay with you, but you have lost them.
It’s called “quit and stay” and it is a greater danger to your business than people resigning.
You are entitled to set standards but you are not their mum! So tackle this the wrong way and you will be dealing with people leaving, not a dress code.
In all matters such as these you need to set the tone be consistent in application of any new standard.
For example, clothing taste is a very personal matter. So if you dictate the dress code you may lose some people (literally or mentally).
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However, if you take the tack of asking your people what their views are on the topic and explain your rationale, you will at least put the item on the agenda and then you can make some decisions on an informed basis.
So here’s a recommended process. At a team meeting express your desire to:
- Lift the tone of the office and explain your thoughts.
- Establish some clothing standards.
- Focus on how the firm is seen.
- Explain the client interface.
- Advise you are not the fashion police but you would like a more professional look.
Be assertive and obtain feedback. Don’t tell. You are a web design firm so how about a mini survey (use your skills for good not evil).
If you are willing, ask your team if they would consider a uniform – a team shirt, designed by them and supplied by you, perhaps.
If uniform is not the go why don’t you just ask the team to set the standards? You may be pleasantly surprised.
In such matters consistency is the critical element. You may need to address some laggards if they do not comply once the standards are set.
Make sure you do not let this slip as the standards will also slip if you are seen to be either inconsistent or unwilling to address some poor standards.
The bottom line is if you can explain the rationale and treat your team as adults you will gain their respect and perhaps increase the standards along the way.
And they will stay, both physically and mentally!