Please tell me if I'm wrong here and be nice... I won't get upset or offended though. Here's what happened.
I nominated this one lady in my staff for a promotion and a raise, (pending review) she reports to me. I've been mentoring her for about 5 years now and she's brilliant and ambitious and I can see a bright future for her. My only problem with her is her attire. I've mentioned this to her several times throughout the years I've been mentoring her and strongly adviced her on "dress for success" meaning, wear a nice suit or well-fitted pants or a sweater that doesn't go down to her belly button and show half of each of her breasts! Today was the straw... we had a huge meeting involving the CFO. I specifically invited her and of course, my boss was there who is aware of me nominating her for a promotion and a raise. This lady (who's 37 years old) showed up dressed like this:
Wearing a sleeveless, tank-top like blouse with laces around them which shows some of her stomach.
Wearing a pleated mini & I'm talking 3 inches above her knee and if she bends over a little bit, something else would show!
Then, get this! she was wearing a thigh-high black, high-heeled boots!!!!!!! and this is her attire in front of the CFO who heads the Finance dept in a multi-billion dollar company!!! The rest of us were wearing suits including me!!! It's not like I don't pay her enough... if she can afford a brand new BMW 750i fully loaded, she can afford 1 suit from Macy's! My boss and I were flabbergasted! the CFO's eyes bugged out and gave a disgusted glance at everybody in the room as if he's waiting for someone to jump out and say, "SMILE! you're on candid camera!" she sat there throughout this important meeting thinking she was cute... it's only cute if it's in her own private bedroom!
I asked to talk to her immediately after the meeting, we went into my office, I shut & locked my door and brought up the subject again of her attire! She started yelling at me and telling me that it's none of my business what she wears and I reminded her of our company policy (everybody reads and signs this policy booklet and it clearly states there what's acceptable and what's not) and daily decency not to mention how ridiculous she looks walking around like something I'd wear in the privacy of my bedroom when I'm role-playing with my fiance! She yelled at me and told me that I'm completely wrong and that I have no right to tell her how to dress. I reminded her that most people at the workplace has a perception of how other people "should" dress if they want to get anywhere within the company, unfortunately, it's the "game" we all have to play and that I'm trying to help her get ahead. She told me to fire her if I don't like the way she's been dressing. She's NEVER dressesed this ridiculously! close, but never to this extreme. She stormed out of my office and I'm seriously considering of replacing her. I've talked to a couple of other people who is just as brilliant as she is, but dresses much more professionally.
Am I wrong here? Would you jeopardize a six figure income to prove that nobody can control how you dress even though they're trying to help you? All I want is for her to cover up a bit... heck, some of my managers have been wearing jeans everyday except for important meetings and they make as much money as she does... Am I uptight? Am I uncool? Is that how a lot of people dress nowadays?
Yes, of course that's how a lot of people dress nowadays - you know, all those people in their 20s-30s who'd wear something like that to go out for a night of debauchery.
Fabat, the only one who is out of line is her. Being her superior, you have every right enforce company policies on dress. Don't let her talk to you like that, saying you can't tell her what to wear. Of course you can! Furthermore it makes you look bad as one who is nominating her for a raise. If she wants to be difficult about the way she dresses, then let her be difficult - without her job, just as she requested.
Don't think that you're being "uncool" about the situation. Telling her now is protecting her from hearing it from the top guys. It's a good thing - she just doesn't realize it. Her attitude is ridiculous. It's not out of the question to wear something business casual to a job. Last I checked, it's absolutely normal, and expected of any employee.
So, 6 figures huh? Are you guys hiring any starving computer science grad students?
BTW, in addition to the attitude issue. Let's touch on the dress issue as well.
Dressing is more than appearances, it reveals a person's inner character as to either how they feel or what they want to be.
Sure I enjoy casual attire but I wouldn't dream of going into a professional meeting with it. It is dis-respectful and immature for people to think their freedom of expression should be accepted over traditional value.
Your own reputation is on the line now, I believe you already know what to do. Don't let sentiments get in the way.
Besides, I can't even imagine if some of the well rounded middle aged men start to wear things like biker outfits or macho man tank tops to work....
I am the Operations Manager of a company that deals with the same issue. We also have a dress policy that all employees must adhere to. I don't care how smart, hard-working or wonderful she is, if she can't comply with company policy, she's gotta go.
In addition, you can't allow her to dress like that and not let the other employees do the same. In long run it will cause more problems than it's worth. I'd cut her loose.
Seriously, enough people (including your superiors) have seen her attire. I think you need to contact HR to ask what the proper channel is for providing official warnings before you do the ultimate act of termination. She's continuously violated company policy. Other employees may soon decide that they can break this or other rules as they see fit.
Take her through the process, and if she realized her job is "officially" on the line, then she has the choice to comply or seek employment elsewhere. Just to be safe, make sure that you can get at her work should she decide to do some kind of sabotage before she leaves.
I would definitely take some action against her. You've already said that this is someone you've been promoting, and now your superiors have seen the way she dresses and how inappropriate it is, it will reflect very badly on you. They will think that you either agree with the way she dresses, or that you're a weak leader who can't enforce company policy.
As the previous poster has said, you need to find out from HR what the appropriate steps are to give her official warnings about her dress code. Assuming it doesn't improve, you need to fire her. I'd also consider personally apologising to those at the meeting, and make it clear that you don't condone how she was dressed and will be taking the appropriate steps to ensure that it doesn't happen again.
No, I don't believe you're at all wrong here. You're not being "uncool." Cool has nothing to do with upholding a company policy regarding dress and physical image.
I'm in and out of courtrooms, law offices, engineering offices, CPA offices, massive corporations all day. I see all sorts of professional working environments, and in 12 years, I've never seen what you described someone wearing in a professional working environment. Even in Florida with the heat and humidity, professionals are still expected to dress appropriately. If this is how she wishes to dress for work, maybe she ought to find another line of work in a not-so-professional environment.
The fact that she argued with you about company policy also causes me concern. You've nominated her for a raise/promotion. Will she be this way with her next superior?
Like other posters have mentioned, I'd speak to HR about the dress and verbal conduct she displayed with you, her superior, and get the wheels in motion to get this taken care of. I believe this would reflect poorly on you in six months or a year when you are no longer her superior and she is reporting to someone else -- possibly even your boss!
I agree with all of the above. I almost wonder if your employee has other issues with you as her boss and she's trying to prove some kind of point? But, I guess I don't understand how a person could dress that way and not feel totally uncomfortable. There are legal issues involved here so you need to talk to your HR department. She's making you look bad. Get this stuff in writing.
I think you was very nice and fair to this person, most of the bosses will tell one time at most and if she disobey she would be in trouble. In my company dressing code reinforced and person will be just walked out no matter who she/he is. If she risk her job for opportunity to dress the way she wants she has problem. I wouldn't promote her and report it to your boss or HR.
I think that speaking to HR is the only thing to do. I too work in a very professional environment .. and while deep down I am a jeans and t-shirt person .. I wear slacks and a blouse to work .. EVERY DAY .. and hide the tattoos ... my hair is not purple (anymore) because I work with suits ...
Anyway .. the way she spoke to you when you addressed your concerns with her style of dress is inappropriate ... you need to talk to HR and find out how to go about documenting her disregard for company dress policy.
You may have to put out a memo about what is and what is not acceptable in the office (not you in particular but your HR department) .. and document, document, document.
I wish you well .. if she was smart ... she would get something that covered herself ... and wear that stuff on the weekend ... but people make their own choices ... so sad.
Good luck to you!
Mother is the word for God on the lips and hearts of children - The Crow
Thanks for all of your responses everybody. I thought I was too lenient w/ her. When she first came aboard, I saw myself in her and she clutched onto me and asked to be my mentor. I was flattered and wanted to help. In the beginning, she wasn't dressing this way. Then as the years went by, she became more & more risque. I have given her 2 warnings in the past. After my boss called me into his office and ripped me a new one. I retracted my nomination. Went to the office of the Director of HR and wrote up her 3rd and final warning. After this, if she doesn't follow the rules, she'll loose her job. She's now on "restriction" meaning, she needs to show me all of her work everyday. I hate this... I have no time to babysit! I have better things to do than babysit! I feel embarrased about the whole thing... like you guy said, it reflects on me. And that's nothing like me.
When I gave her the 3rd and final warning, she signed it and took her copy and left my office with a smile. It's as if she wants to be fired. I don't know. The office of the CFO made a formal complaint to HR too about her "costume" from yesterday.
Not only is her dress inapproprate, but so was her manner to you. Fire her, or at least threaten to if her dress and additude doesn't improve, it's the best thing you can do for her. Make sure she knows why she's being fired. It's the only way she'll learn. Some people only learn by feeling the pain.
I think you handled it appropriately and showed great restraint!!!! I would have canned her arse right then and there!!! For yelling like that. She may be brilliant, but how much brilliance is outshown by a mouth that has no filter on it??? How far would Donald Trump have gotten if he treated the then upper management like she treated you...can we all say, "Would you like fries with that?"
If someone was paying me a 6 figure income, mentoring me and trying to help me move up the way you have helped her, I'd make damn sure I was polite regardless of what I thought....especially when it comes to clothes.
I would tell her, when the time comes, "You know we've discussed dress codes on numerous occasions, I have tried to be polite, but bottom line is this is company policy and regardless of what people want to wear, there's a policy for a reason. If you find it impossible to stick to, then you may want to find a job somewhere that this is acceptable." Keep it to the policy, don't put in opinions because some people take it as an opening to voice there own and since you've been open to listening or at least dealing with it in the past, she has seen fit to escalate her behavior...
and bottom line, she's making the choice on whether or not she wants to work there or not....maybe she's dressing this way to find a sugar daddy, so she doesn't have to work for a living!!!! Good luck....I'll wear a suit for you! You can reach me at.....nah, just kidding, don't want to go against ANY policies! Toodles, Angel
If you don't experience anything bad, you'll never appreciate the good when it comes around!!!
I never met a person who will japardize his/her career 'cause of clothes issue no matter how brilliant they are. May be she was under big stress for a long time through work and studies trying to do her best and now she starts loosing it or she has personnal problems, but what can you do. May be there is something else going on...
Anyway you actions was appropriate.
Fabat40, you are not wrong and it is unfortunate that you were treated with so much disrespect after all you have done to try and help this woman.
However, I do sympathize with this woman. Some people are just not cut out for the corporate world. Like me, it sounds like this lady isn't able to roll her spirit into a little ball and stuff it into a box. I applaud her for rebelling. I think dress codes are absolutely ridiculous.
I worked at this one big company where everyone started out as a temp employee and then had the chance to get hired on permanently if they showed promise. Me and this other girl, who ironically started on the same day, were at the top of the pack and battling each other for a permanent spot. We started out neck and neck performance wise. Oh man, we hated each other. Well, she WAS a nasty person.
But anyway - over time I started getting bored. Started coming to work after being up partying for hours. Spent most of the shift talking to my friends. Meanwhile, the other girl kept up her kick-butt performance. She was better than me, and worked much harder. But I was the one the supervisors and managers loooved and had me earmarked to get hired on permanently.
And the reason was plain and simple - I came to work dressed to the nines, and the girl who was my competition was a major goth. (I refered to her none-too-affectionately as the Queen of Darkness). I knew they loved me because of how I looked. The big supervisor would actually come over and compliment me on how nicely dressed I was. So of course I played up that angle 100%. Nevermind that on the day I was pulled aside and told they wanted to hire me and were so excited about it I had been sleeping at my desk.
I ended up really resenting the fact that they totally overlooked the other girl because of how she dressed, even though I hated her guts. She was probably one of the hardest workers that place had ever seen. After I got hired, I started dressing a little bizarrely myself just to make a statement. But I left not too long after anyway, when they wanted to make us work on alternating Saturdays and I already had plans.
You really can't judge how someone is going to perform based on how they are dressed. Some people are just good at playing the game, like I did for awhile. It sounds like maybe this is what happened to this woman. She played the game, looked the part, but increasingly got sick and tired of the hypocrisy. She's a good worker and is a real asset, but she isn't someone who can stiffle herself or follow blindly along without getting resentful.
It's so easy to get disillusioned by the corporate world. I give her props for not conforming. I really could never respect a work environment where I was told I had to look a certain way. Professionalism, blah blah blah.
Sorry for the soap box. And sorry you got let down by this woman, Fabat. But it does make me sad how a company would rather let go of a "questionable looking" employee no matter how talented or hardworking they are. I know you don't make the rules, but I am just saying in general. When places judge people on their looks, it is all too easy for someone like me to take advantage of that, by coming to work in a nice dress, slacking off all day, and then getting praise.
We need more people in this world who refuse to paint inside the lines, not less. I understand that this woman is proving to be a pain in the butt for you, but it is people like this, who refuse to conform, who end up changing the world. Basically she's giving everybody the finger with her wardrobe, and I'd like to meet her and shake her hand. (I HATE corporations...can you tell?)
So I give her major props, but feel sorry that you are getting stressed out by this Fabat.
The grass is always greener on the other side...until you get closer and see that it's astroturf~
The woman clearly wants to be fired. The only reasons I can think of are:
1) She thrives on drama, and drama is more important to her than her career/money
2) She has something planned, like a lawsuit (sexual harassment?) thinking she'll get a big settlement
3) She is sick of working and wants to get fired so she can collect unemployment.
I have a feeling #2 is most likely.
Good luck with this situation. You certainly don't deserve it.