How High is Your Shoe IQ?
THE GOOD ENOUGH, THE BAD AND THE UGLY BEHAVIOR
Today’s Scene: The Good Enough
Boss GettingItDone managed 50 employees. Giving each member on her team equal time and support was a logistical feat but Boss knew how important it was to stay connected. Today’s talk was with Employee Serious. Employee Serious wanted to be taken, well, seriously at every step. As a female she believed that her high intelligence and expertise were all that mattered. Her position relied heavily in representing client’s interest when showing up in public. Boss GettingItDone agreed with Employee Serious fundamentally but today was about what the company needed.
Boss asked Employee Serious to take a seat. As they went through cordial hellos, Employee sensed this was not a usual conversation that Boss and her were about to have and started getting defensive right away.
“I am up to date with all of our notes in the system and project B is nearly finished. Is something wrong?” asked Employee Serious.
Boss GettingItDone started letting her know that they were having issues with the way she was representing the company and clients. Employee Serious’ jaw dropped. But as Boss went on, Employee’s face started getting red.
Boss explained that while the company understands that Employee Serious does not prioritize appearance over delivering quality work, “appearances do matter to our clients.” Specifically, two separate clients commented that her choice of footwear reflected badly upon them. The clients’ each had gone so far as to suggest that they felt their interests were being damaged and possibly penalized. Employee Serious would wear clean and professional blazers and slacks but regularly wore Birkenstock-style sandals with socks.
Employee Serious went on to explain that her brain was what advanced their interests not her shoes. She wasn’t going to “dye her hair, wear dresses or change her shoes. And certainly, it SHOULD NOT matter”. Employee explained she had worked hard to get where she was and cannot believe that this should matter.
Boss GettingItDone very specifically referenced the company’s dress code and explained that her shoes were not acceptable to the clients and the company. The company was not asking for expensive or extreme versions of a professional shoe. Though Employee Serious did not have a medical condition, the company was not even requesting heels. Clean closed toe loafers or flats would do the job. Boss explained that if she chose to fight this rather than find a more professional shoe, at the very least the client’s requested to be switched to another employee. At worst, the company would be forced to let her go.
Today’s lesson: A Boss knows the clients’ needs define success for this role
The mistake here was the Boss’s. Boss GettingItDone should have been clearer with Employee Serious when hiring. If you know that representation outside of the company is a part of the job, it is always best expressly disclosed and discussed during the interview process. In quite a few companies, just being an expert is NOT enough.
While Boss GettingItDone may have AGREED 100% with Employee Serious in concept and morals, the company’s clients and the needs of those clients are the priority here. Going forward, Boss GettingItDone can add in questions about appearance priority, how they accept criticism and flexibility on prioritizing client’s needs above their individual wants when out in public.
Positions that set a person to represent a company in public or private events should absolutely include not just conversation about appearance but also language, behavior, and drinking alcohol. Much more can be considered with the specifics to your business.
However, this serves EVERYONE best if you make this an honest and specific piece of your interview process. A boss gets clear on what kind of person serves the clients needs in all areas and uses that to design the correct hiring process. Yep, there is more to it than copying and posting an employment ad to grow your own kick-ass team!
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