Image is Everything

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 714698

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item Image is Everything

  • SqlNightOwl

    SSCrazy

    Points: 2214

    I think there are at least two perspectives on the question. The perspective Steve addressed is "does what you wear impact your performance". I believe Steve is correct that it doesn't. I've been just as productive in a suite and tie (banking work) as I have in a bath robe (telecommuting). It's probably a valid point that that the more comfortable you are, the less outside distraction there is and therefore; the more productive you are. Another perspective is "what you're trying to communicate with your image". In this, other peoples perception of your competence and professionalism is their reality.

    Me personally, I tend to dress like my boss. If my boss is on an upward track (she is) then that position will become open and it gives upper management a "warm fuzzy feeling" that they won't need to modify my behavior to have me fit that role. Some will say that's silly however; being dressed and behave in a manner that the company isn't embarrassed to stick me in front of a client hasn't hurt my career. It all comes down to what you want to accomplish.

    --Paul Hunter

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 714698

    Mimicking your boss is probably a good idea if you want to take his slot. These things do matter to some people and if you don't mind, why not.

    There was a time in my life I enjoyed dressing up, but there was a time I didn't mind working 80 hours a week as well. That time is past.

    Now I don't want to be distracted by a tie, or by being uncomfortable. But that's me; I'm interested to hear what others think.

  • katedgrt

    Ten Centuries

    Points: 1197

    Ah, the image question. This is a little different for us she-BAs (actually I'm a dev/architect but I love the new term I learned). There is an element of personal style involved and a good deal more leeway in what is acceptable or not--therefore even more is left up to individual judgement. Unfortunately for me I have never been what you would call a girly-girl and I'd prefer to dress in cotton pajama pants most of the time.

    And it is different as a consultant than in a fte role. I've heard the 'dress like your boss' advice before and it is a handy rule of thumb when dress codes are not explicit; I also agree that it is of use primarily if you aspire to a role matching theirs. The expectation for a consultant is usually to dress one better than the folks you are working around. Again, this is not exactly my default mode.

    Ideally, we would all be judged on the content of our character and the work product we provide, but studies show that looks matter more than most of us would care to admit. The result for me is that I put effort into making a good first impression, so I spend about the first week or 2 on each gig dressing as if I was going into a bank and wearing full makeup. I often dress out on Mondays, too. (You just never know what might happen on a Monday.) However, I am just such a low-maintenance person that once I get situated in my surroundings I revert to the most comfortable clothing allowed. This gives my work a chance to speak for itself before I slack off on appearance. When given the opportunity to speak or teach, I use the same approach, but on a shorter term basis. A one-time spot requires more attention to image, but in a classroom situation I am as casual as my students by the 3rd day.

    For what you do, unless you plan to use the podcast to audition for future work, I don't know that I would bother too much about it; as you stated you are neat and hygenic and moreover consistent. I'm curious if you ever got any other comments on this? I just assumed you were wearing what you wear to work in and I wouldn't expect otherwise. In fact, I'm a bit jealous. 😉

    😎 Kate The Great :w00t:
    If you don't have time to do it right the first time, where will you find time to do it again?

  • GSquared

    SSC Guru

    Points: 260824

    Since no way that I dress will ever make me look good, nor will what I wear make a difference in how well I do my job, I just try to go with what is expected. Currently, I work for a financial firm, so it's shirt and tie. My last job, I could have gotten away with jeans and t-shirts, but the majority of the company was slacks and polo shirts, so I went with that. It doesn't matter to me, so I just try to dress in such a way that it makes the people around me comfortable.

    - Gus "GSquared", RSVP, OODA, MAP, NMVP, FAQ, SAT, SQL, DNA, RNA, UOI, IOU, AM, PM, AD, BC, BCE, USA, UN, CF, ROFL, LOL, ETC
    Property of The Thread

    "Nobody knows the age of the human race, but everyone agrees it's old enough to know better." - Anon

  • swjohnson

    Hall of Fame

    Points: 3254

    I have worked in both environments where we were required to wear a suit and a tie. So, I had fun with it and always wore bow-ties. In my current position we get to wear jeans and casual clothes. To me it doesn't matter.

    My host-father in Brazil had a funny way of putting it. "Why on God's earth would I want my executives to put something around their neck that cuts the flow of blood off to their brain. I want them to think and be smart so I don't care what they wear as long as they get it right!"

    I agree!

  • emmchild

    Ten Centuries

    Points: 1010

    Ties are for formal events and my daily work activities don't qualify. I tend to avoid situations that require the daily suit and tie. Seriously, why have someone have a good first impression if the lasting impression is what counts. An ineffective person in a suit is still ineffective person. Its like the person that buys all the high end sports equipment and cant produce in the heat of battle.

    Steve I see your tee-shirt as a symbol of your success. You are the editor of the #1 education and community site for SQL Server...in the world Steve, not the city, the WORLD. The editorials and newsletter ARE the reasons why REAL PROFESSIONALS and aspiring professionals come to the site.

  • Tom Uellner

    SSC Rookie

    Points: 48

    Coming into a new situation, I dress to match the people around me. That said, to address the HR person commenting on Steve's attire, I really don't see how it matters what Steve wears for his podcast. First off, it's NOT directed at HR types. If they are watching, fine but it's directed to us, the troops in the trenches (at least IMHO). So as long as the podcast is not an interview device, it should not matter and Joe or Jane HR should stick to telling their own employees how to dress.

  • Scott Herbert-214404

    Old Hand

    Points: 387

    I work where business attire is expected 4 days a week, and "smart" casual on the 5th. I fail to understand what it is that makes Fridays different from the rest of the week.

    I'm more comfortable and work better when wearing sensible, casual clothing. Ties are a silly, uncomfortable, effette invention which should be wiped out, except for the tie I wore to my wedding, which was hella sweet.

  • Mike O'Neill

    SSC Veteran

    Points: 276

    Hi

    I work for a big Corporate in South Africa , for many years now we have had a "casual" approach to dress code . Working as I did until recently in a Manufacturing environement that was wet and noisy , you normally dressed down to suit those conditions. After all in summerh here its quite often 30 deg C +

    I now work as the IT support manager for that manufacturing environment in our corporate HQ and as such my only contact with the outside world is email and other electronic forms , most of the users I support don't even know what I look like let alone what I wear.

    The group I work in comprise a mix of Support Analysts and Developers and we maintain the casual aproach. What difference can a "polo shirt" as opposed to a "long sleeeved shirt and tie" make to the way I manage my team and how I support my customers, its people not images that matter.

    I suppose the outrageous T shirt brigade will continue to exist , but "clothes do not make a man" , I command respect (I hope) by my actions and the principals that I follow

    Cheers

  • SQLSimon

    Old Hand

    Points: 391

    The feeling here definitely matches that of Steve and I would instinctively agree, but there is another valid side.

    I’m now almost entirely office-based and apart from when we have a client visiting, everyone is casually-dressed, and generally not particularly smartly.

    But if a client or potential client visits, or we visit them, the people involved will dress formally. Now if we didn’t dress up and that client or potential client takes a dislike to our “unprofessional” appearance, then it may affect their decision to do business with us. So however anal you may think that is, not being suited-up can cost the company money, in which case it’s entirely reasonable to expect us to dress formally in these occasions. And the same conflict could arise between different departments in the same company.

    On a slight tangent, I think it’s similar with written work. If a letter\document is badly written with poor grammar, I think that it creates a bad impression. I’m amazed at the number of people, including senior managers that don’t seem to know the difference between “their” and “there”. Now you can call me anal if you wish! Some (including my boss!) will say that it doesn’t matter as long as the meaning is still conveyed. I accept this up to a point, but it creates an impression of a lack of attention to detail, which in our area of work can be disastrous.

    I’m now waiting for people to pick me up on any poor grammar above…….

  • majorbloodnock

    SSCrazy Eights

    Points: 9267

    If you're on your own, it's fairly obvious that what you wear and how you act make no tangible difference. However, when you have to interact with other people, what you do and how you act do make a difference, and what you wear is a part of that.

    If I was invited round to a friend's house for a take-away pizza and a natter, it'd be counterproductive if I insisted on a plate, cutlery, napkin and a place at a table to eat the pizza. Ditto if, when invited to a black-tie dinner, I asked for my soup in a mug and a couple of slices of bread to make the Chateaubriand into a steak sandwich. Same thing with what I wear, since it can help or hinder what I'm trying to achieve.

    If there are no expectations either way, my preference is for jeans. However, I'm not arrogant enough to wear what I want and believe everyone else should accept me as I am. As several previous posters have said, I'll wear what is appropriate for a given situation in the same way I'll adapt other areas of my behaviour to suit. And if an HR person believes Steve's T-shirt is inappropriate within the context of a relaxed, technology-focussed web site like SSC, they might find it useful to have another read through the textbooks related to their HR qualification; there are numerous references to how allowing people certain liberties can be used to achieve a given result (usually increasing productivity.

    Semper in excretia, sumus solum profundum variat

  • Wayne Underwood-354761

    Grasshopper

    Points: 16

    I work for a consulting firm out of London. Office attire is casual unless, as SQLSimon points out, a customer or potential customer is going to be paying a visit. Should this happen, a communication is sent out and the dress code becomes smart casual.

    When out on a gig I always wear a suit on the first day after which I 'blend in' by following the dress code of the customer. If the customer is a bank or a lawyers firm, then I'm donned in a suit. I've done gigs at media / advertising firms and worn smart casual clothes. Either way, I have yet to hear a complaint laid against my name for shoddy workmanship.

    After all, a monkey in silk is a monkey no less...

  • Barry G Freeman

    SSC Eights!

    Points: 860

    My 2p worth.

    The image you present is important, sure, but only to the audience you're interacting with.

    Also, it depends om what message you're trying to put forward to that audience.

    As people have said, if you are working at home dialled-in to your office, work naked if that's comfortable. (As long as you don't have a web cam, of course!)

    If you are presenting a technical subject to technical people, you might dress in jeans and T - "I'm a techie just like you"

    And so on.

    The age of company dress codes must be on the way out, really.

    DBA (Dogsbody with Bad Attitude)

  • Andy sql

    SSCrazy Eights

    Points: 9253

    I am surprised at several posts here which admit that they "dress-up" when they, or their boss, deem the situation requires it. This to me is disingenuous. Your presentation, including attire, do make impressions, and the impression given here is false.

    I know that most companies have some kind of dress code, and that employees are expected to follow it. Thus the attire of employees indicates something about the company (as opposed to the individual).

    For example, Steve's T-Shirt wearing faux-pas (as the HR person would believe) does say something about Steve's company (and as Steve is the boss, it says something directly about him!). And given Steve's background, and his audience, his dress seems entirely appropriate.

    What I object to is the idea that a company deliberately dresses differently when meeting with external clients. This, to me, is a sham. You are either comfortable with formal attire, and thus wear it every day, or you are not and should not wear it.

    Andy

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