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Don’t just plead for change–legislate and enforce it

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in Your Office Coach

Q: “Our company has a dress code, but you’d never know it from looking at our employees. Many of them come to work wearing old clothes that are sloppy and baggy.

“Prospective customers often visit this office for product demonstrations, so I have said many times that everyone must dress in a professional manner. The offenders reply that if I expect them to look better, I need to give them more money. How do I deal with this attitude?” Irritated Manager

A: Simply put, your employees continue to dress poorly because you continue to tolerate it. Nothing will change until their improper attire results in negative consequences, so you need to start backing up your words with actions.

Tell the staff that in order to make a better impression on customers, you will begin enforcing the dress code the following week. Explain that you don't expect anyone to purchase expensive clothing, but you do expect them to appear neat and businesslike.

On the first day of dress code enforcement, walk around to see what people are wearing. Because you have previously issued empty edicts, you will probably find several employees with torn jeans or tasteless t-shirts. Immediately send them home without pay and tell them to return the next day in appropriate clothing.

If you keep this up, your sloppy-dress problem should quickly disappear. And perhaps your employees will stop responding to you with smart-aleck remarks.

Are you puzzled by employee performance issues? Here are some questions to consider: Diagnosing the Cause of Performance Problems.

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