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Consider the group approach when facing a thorny issue

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in Your Office Coach

Q: "I have a co-worker in her forties who dresses like she’s in her twenties. 'Susie' wears tiny little t-shirts, despite the fact that she is very well-endowed. She has no problem showing off her assets to anyone who wants to look, which is embarrassing to the rest of us.

"After receiving several complaints, our manager spoke to Susie about her dress. She was surprised and told him that she wished people had talked to her directly. Although she improved for about a week, now she’s back to wearing her sexy outfits. How can we get Susie to dress more appropriately?"

A: If you believe that Susie really wants direct communication, one option is a group feedback session. For example: “Susie, you’ve asked people to be candid, so we want to tell you that your revealing t-shirts seem inappropriate for the office. Frankly, we find them a little embarrassing. Would you be willing to consider dressing more professionally?”

But if the straightforward approach seems risky, a simpler alternative may be to jog your boss’s memory about the issue. Remind him of his previous conversation with Susie and ask him to follow up.

For example: “Even though you’ve talked with Susie about her suggestive t-shirts, she continues to wear them. We believe this gives visitors the wrong impression of our office. Could you talk with her again about appropriate business attire?”

If your manager fails to follow through, perhaps everyone should come to work in a tight t-shirt. That might get his attention.

Want to put your best foot forward at work? Here are some suggestions: How to Make a Good First Impression.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Patti March 11, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Does the company have a dress code? If not, perhaps this should be implemented with the expectation that everyone will adhere to it.

Do you have an HR department? If so, perhaps someone from HR can address the issue with the employee.



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