Dear Slacker Manager Readers

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Thu, Oct 15 - 5:21 am EDT | 5 years ago by
Comments: 6
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Dear Slacker Manager readers,

One of my employees was out of dress code today. He had his shirt untucked, and our dress code clearly states shirts must be tucked in. When I asked him to tuck it in, instead of complying, he went to the associate handbook to find where it said (I had already shared with him the exact quote) and he took a screen snap of the handbook, and sent it to me with a note that said “Gotcha!” and then he tucked his shirt in.


How should I respond? Is this disrespectful or am I making a mountain out of a molehill?


A manager who needs advice

Your turn:

Dear readers – what should be done? How would YOU respond to this?

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  • Pete Jones – Desmoinesisnotboring

    The fact that he went to the Handbook and, essentially, questioned your authority is pretty bad. It sounds like he doesn’t trust you at this point. If he did, he would have tucked it in without question. On the flip side, I question how you approched the issue. I know Millenials never like to be told what to do, so you may have been able to work the comment in differently so as to not make it a larger issue and maybe he would have complied. Regardless, I am not sure it is a big issue in the grand scheme or something to fester about.

  • James

    Questions to ask before discipline. Is this an isolated event? Sounds like it may not be… If that is the case and dress code is a serious matter (safety or customer service) and a warning was given once take the next step in your disciplinary process. Or if insubordination is the issue give a warning on that and then look at moving that up the disciplinary process. Again it kind of depends on the severity of the issue.

    Just make sure whatever you do is fair or errs on the side of the subordinate. One thing that has been drilled into my mind is the question of “Are your standards the same for all associates?”.

  • Scott C Griffin

    You have me thinking … While our policy doesn’t state WHAT (with exceptions) to wear or how, it does state that it should be appropriate to the work situation. I would give th employee a verbal warning and if continued, a written reprimand for insubordination!

    It is the policy of the (company) that each employee’s dress, grooming and personal hygiene should be appropriate to the work situation. Employees are expected at all times to present a professional, businesslike image. Radical departures from conventional business dress or personal grooming and hygiene standards are not permitted.

    Employees shall not consume alcohol while in (company) issued uniforms nor shall employees consume alcohol during working hours, inclusive of breaks.
    No visible forms of jewelry may be worn in the facial area to include but not be limited to the nose, tongue, cheek, lip and eyebrow. A maximum of three (3)
    earrings in the ear lobe of each ear is allowed.

    Employees are required to conceal any tattoos and prohibited from wearing any
    apparel which express in either picture or words:
    Content of a sexual nature,
    Sexually, racially, religiously or ethnically offensive sentiments,
    Sentiments advocating violence or subversion,
    Expressing gang affiliations, or otherwise tending to incite violence or
    disruption in the workplace or
    Other content, which if expressed by other means would violate (company)policies.
    The determination of specific, appropriate employee dress and personal
    appearance standards are the responsibility of management.

    Any employee not meeting the standards of this policy or the departmental
    operating procedures may be subject to disciplinary action, which may include
    requiring the employee to leave the premises. Employees will be required to use available Personal Leave or Leave without Pay for time missed because of
    failure to comply with this policy.

  • RickMeasham

    Wow .. I guess I’ve never working in a workplace with a strict dress code, but the problem here doesn’t seem to be about the dress code but about how you use your power to influence behaviour and where you get that power from.

    We’ve all heard it before, but I’ll repeat it: Authority comes from various sources. Position is the weakest, technical knowledge is a stronger authority and a personal relationship providing the strongest authority.

    From your description, you’ve attempted to use position-power-once-removed: “I’m your boss so I get to tell you what to do. But instead of that I’ll tell you what’s in the book.” You’re usurping your own (limited ‘position’) power by quoting The Book.

    If you don’t have a relationship to fall back on (“Hey dude, tuck it in! Ta!”) then use technical knowledge and explain why he needs to tuck in his shirt (which isn’t “because the book says”) talk about why it’s in the book. Try not to even mention the book.

    Here’s how I’d say it (using the Manager Tools Feedback Model):
    “Can I give you some feedback? When you walk around with your shirt untucked, here’s what happens: it looks sloppy which makes the workplace look sloppy. When customer see this, they start to ask if the work we do for them is similarly sloppy. What can you do to fix this?”

    As for your actual question .. what do you do now:
    You’ve given him some feedback on a particular behaviour. Has he complied? If so, everything is good. Why go any further? If he leaves his shirt untucked again in the future, he won’t need to look at the book. Instead of worrying about his going to the book, take him out for a coffee and ask about the kids.

    You can’t adjust non-behavioral issues. “You need to fix your attitude” will never get you anywhere.

    If he doesn’t respect you, fix the relationship.

    If he openly disrespects you in front of his peers, that’s a behaviour that you need to fix. “Can I give you some feedback? When you openly question the position I have in this company, here’s what happens: your fellow team members get uncomfortable, you lose my respect and you make junior team members question management decisions which leads to a negative workplace. What can you do to fix this?”

    I can’t recommend the Manager Tools feedback model anywhere near enough:

  • Jafar

    I have to agree with Rick here; then again I wouldn’t put it to our problem employee quite the way he did. I know that I’m a strict ‘No BS’ kind of guy, and a little more authoritative than I should be – So I wouldn’t have quoted the book.

    It’s all really got to do with your personality and the culture of your organization. If you’re a guy like me, and in an organization that dislikes cheek, slap him on the wrist and let him know that’s not OK. If you’re a fun loving guy who can appreciate the humor, in a company that requires cheeky employees, fire back a joke about what would happen if he didn’t.

    I can tell you that if he was working for me, and a new guy – I’d remind him that I require people of a much MUCH higher caliber. And that he should step it up a notch, or at least be funny. If he did something along those lines in person, I have a terrific ‘I do not approve’ eyebrow raise.

    Of course, I am a bit of a jerk.

    By the way – is that an ‘I understood’ Gotcha, or a ‘Haha you doofus’ Gotcha? Let’s give buddy the benefit of the doubt, eh?

  • Miki

    There are plenty of mountains out there already, so he should follow Rick’s advice and buy the guy a cup of coffee and get to know him.

    Oh, and I’d give this manager a copy of The Levity Effect, one of the best management/leadership books I’ve seen recently He needs to read it and lighten up.