They Dress Up for Work Now


Tatooed BankerConfidence is a funny thing; it affects people in different and unexpected ways. For a client call center, I was helping to train a group of new and young team leaders, and we were focusing on a leadership week. The structure to the week and the detail needed for driving results through behaviors was sometimes a challenge.

As this client has a casual work environment, filled with tattoos, earrings, jeans, t‑shirts, sunglasses, and spiky hair, we didn’t have any plans to change appearance, just behaviors. The four individuals who I was working with were hip, young, team leaders in the call center who had recently been promoted from reps.

We wanted to demonstrate that a written weekly leadership plan could drive the right behaviors and the right results, so basically they were our pilot group within this large center.

When piloting a new initiative, we like to take people with positive attitudes who will give the ideas and concepts a real go. So we started with weekly teleconferences to define the right activities in their plans and commit them to paper. Getting a great plan that delivered results took about four months, as we incorporated a completely new structure with meetings, coaching sessions, daily briefings and debriefings, objections clinics, etc., to meet current business objectives.

After we got into the plans and their results improved, team morale improved as well, and, most importantly, their confidence in their new roles increased. With that came a remarkable and voluntary transformation, their appearance. When I returned for a visit six months later, they all greeted me in dress trousers, dress shirts—no sunglasses, no ripped jeans, and no t-shirts.

I asked if they had dressed up just for me, and, boy, was I wrong. “No,” they responded, “We dress up every day because we feel we have now earned the right to be team leaders and we want to look the part.”

I never suspected that writing down a weekly leadership plan would have such impact on someone in the workplace, but it really helped “dress up” these team leaders and their performance.

Your thoughts?

Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

2 responses to “They Dress Up for Work Now

  1. I noticed the same behaviour change in a network marketing company I was consulting to. As people earned more money and moved through the ranks they voluntarily started to dress the ‘part’. No dress expectation was set, but maybe it is their way of subtly recognising their own success or conforming to societal norms?
    Whether we like it or not I think we do make judgements based on appearances.
    If you had to ask a stranger to go into that contact centre and pick out the management team they would pick the ones who were better presented.
    So for those who started to up the ante on their dress and appearance, it is their way is saying ‘I made it’.

  2. Pingback: What A Year It Has Been! | PerformanceGrapevine

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