(Time to read this Blog article is about 90 seconds)

I’m reminded of this important topic by the recent decision of the Toronto School Board to loosen their student dress code standards to allow tank tops, tube tops, bare midriffs, bare backs, pajamas and onesies to be worn to school.  Apparently, “letting it all hang out.” Is an important part of today’s education and self-expression.  I may just be old and cranky, but I think this is nuts!   Whatever happened to teaching high standards, modesty and self-respect? 

Science says that the clothes we wear affect our behavior, attitudes, personality, mood, confidence, and even the way we interact with others. This is called “Enclothed Cognition“.  Look it up if you don’t believe me. 

When these kids come to work for you someday they’ll expect to be allowed to ‘express themselves’ however they want and you’re going to have a problem. 

A few years ago I walked into the head office of a big insurance company client to interview management as part of my researching a speech for them.  A big sign in the lobby announced, “Please excuse our appearance…it’s our Casual Friday.”  If your standards for Casual Friday’ have gotten so damn casual that you have to put up a sign apologizing for how you look, you’ve probably gotten way too casual.  There’s a very real difference between ‘casual’ and ‘sloppy’.    

Having clear and appropriate standards of performance, behavior and appearance is important in every business, including yours.  We don’t have high standards because we’re old, mean or cranky.  We have them because they matter. How we look, behave and perform in every part of our business…

  1. either creates or destroys customer confidence and trust,
  2. builds or destroys customer relationships…and,
  3. says who we are and what we care about.  

And, it isn’t just about dress codes.  It’s about cleanliness, tidiness, safety and performing effectively and efficiently.  It’s about our sense of urgency, our sense of pride and how we treat customers and each other.  It’s about burned out lights that don’t get replaced, the litter in the parking lot and the dead plant in the lobby.     

So, do you have clear and appropriate standards in every part of your business…and does everyone know what they are and why they’re important?  Do you monitor and measure performance, behavior and appearance and fix what needs fixing…or do you let things slide?  Don’t just go with the flow.  ‘The flow’ is downhill.        

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