In our industry, I’ve noticed a similar issue. When owners invite me to visit their operations, we typically have not met in person, only over the phone. Often, the person who walks out to shake my hand is dressed down, wearing a branded polo shirt and chinos. For both women and men owners, the Polo-Dockers look is an easy, tidy work uniform.
Now, think back to when you entered the industry. What did owners wear? Even on the most casual days, I bet the founder of your company wore clothing that signaled stature.
You may say, "Rock, people don't dress up anymore." Or, “Companies these days have flat hierarchies. We owners are no better than anyone else.” And it’s true we should not judge people by how they dress or underestimate anyone who dresses casually.
However, if you do choose a casual approach, be aware that it can influence how others perceive your business skills:
1. On the phone. You sound more professional, and you conduct yourself with more gravitas when you are dressed up. Have you ever taken a business call at the breakfast table, while still in your robe? It feels awkward, doesn't it? When you are not at your best, others can sense it, even over the phone.
2. To other employees. Co-workers want you to represent the company with professionalism. You may not wear a suit, but you should make those who work with you proud.
3. To your customers. When meeting with customers, your style of dress should be appropriate for the style of interaction. If you dress as though you have lower stature than your customer, you will be treated that way. You want to be seen as their equal and relate on a business level.
4. To your vendors. Have you noticed how vendors dress when they call on your company? They know the importance of making a powerful impression. Do you need to impress them? Perhaps not, but in every interaction, there are countless non-verbal cues. Your style of dress can be a factor in your negotiating success.
Dressing up is a strategic business decision, especially for the owner. The working world may be moving in a casual direction, but how we portray ourselves is still a choice.
With 35 years of experience, Rock LaManna has empowered and advised owners on how to position their companies in a highly competitive marketplace. As a trusted advisor, LaManna Alliance can help you be more professional and profitable. Email Rock@RockLaManna.com to inquire about services or start a confidential discussion.