Martin was waiting in the conference room when I arrived. He had a single sheet of paper in front of him.
“That was easier than I thought,” he started. “I simply observed the way my team members dress, and it was curious how quickly I noticed the difference between my top performers and the rest of my team.”
“Observing physical characteristics can give you important clues about a person’s value system. People communicate a great deal about themselves without speaking a single word.” Now it was Martin’s turn to nod his head.
“Does this have anything to do with habits?” he asked.
“What are you thinking?” I replied. I could see the wheels turning.
“Well, the fact that my top performers dress differently, I mean neater, cleaner, more polished, is not because they consciously thought about it. It seems that is just who they are. And it comes out in their work product. A person who takes pride in their personal appearance, also takes pride in their work product.”
“Why do you think that happens?”
Martin paused. “I am beginning to see a clearer connection between values and behavior. Even if people don’t think about it, consciously, that’s why they do what they do.”
“So, how important is it, for a manager, to understand the value system of team members?”
I am having a very strong reaction to this path you are on. While I completely agree that learning a person’s values is important for a leader, connecting values to how someone dresses speaks, to me, of white privilege. Not everyone can dress in a way aligned with their values. Please don’t make assumptions based on appearance. It’s unfair to the leader, to the person, to the team and to the organization. Know the person. Ask questions. Seek to understand.
I disagree with this thread. I think this is a very 1950’s way of looking at talent. I think the way someone dresses can be a small indicator, but in 2021, you can by no means judge a person by the way they look or dress. It speaks nothing about their intelligence and abilities. Additionally with the many cultures we have here in America, appearances is only a very very small factor, unless you have a forward facing sales type role where you are interacting with clients and customers on a daily basis. This is just my two cents.
Hhhmmmm. I’m thinking we are talking about people here not roses. While, roses most certainly are what they appear to be, humans are capable of being the exact opposite of what they appear to be. Couple that with my experience of sitting in meetings where the chair person encouraged us repeatedly not to play junior psychologist and I’m thinking making to many assumptions about performance based on dress is risky. I’ve worked with several well dressed individuals in my day, and the only thing they appeared to be able to do well was look the part. On another note, how do top performers physically look in a non office environment?
I’m interested to see where this blog goes. Thanks