Image makes the employee and the company

We hear a lot in the workplace today about “style,” with the statement “That’s not my style,” taking on different meaning for different people. For some, the term “style” is more literal.Many employees want to express their own unique selves, and for employers trying to enforce a dress code, that can present challenges. For others, they’re talking about their workstyle.Evaluation tools exist today that can evaluate an employee in a way that allows them to see how others view them and their style, but hearing the results of those evaluations can sometimes be difficult for employees.As an employer, a “yes” approach in both these instances requires showing that “yes,” your uniqueness should be celebrated, but there are rules that, “yes,” need to be followed.Q. As an employer, I don’t want to stifle people’s style, but believe a dress code is critical. How do I strike the balance?A. I may be old-fashioned, but I agree that in most work environments a dress code is important.First of all, most businesses have customers and most customers have certain expectations. We want our food servers, physicians and nurses to be clean and well-kept and we expect our landscape designers or horseback instructors to be in jeans and maybe have a little dirt under their nails.Almost all of our employees have expectations when they’re the customer and most, therefore, understand when the shoe is on the other foot. In addition, most of our employees have a reasonable sense of what’s right and what works in any given work environment.So we start from a place of general acceptance.Now what we need to do is make sure the dress expectations are clear, understood and that the policies are interpreted consistently and enforced fairly.That’s why we have a dress code.If you have a policy, be open to how the world is changing and consider updating it. If you don’t have one, now’s the time. Get your employees to help you review and update, or if need be, create a policy from the ground up.Evaluation ‘fear factor’Q. My team is nervous about upcoming 360 evaluations and scared about how they will be used. How do I get them to say “yes” and embrace the results?A. Wouldn’t you be nervous?360 evaluations provide competence-related information and performance-appraisal data collected from all around an employee – from his or her peers, subordinates and supervisors. They are comprehensive, extremely helpful and give employees a clearer understanding of how the rest of the world views them.They can also be pretty scary. What makes them scary is that we don’t know how they will be used and we’re afraid that we will be judged rather than given the opportunity to grow.In my experience, 360s work best when they’re done to help an employee get a better, more complete or well-rounded sense for how they’re perceived in the workplace. And just as important, then get a chance to work with someone competent and neutral who can help them build on strengths and compensate for weaknesses.If you’re looking for an evaluation tool, I don’t think this is the way to go. If on the other hand you want to give your team a way to grow through increased personal insight, then 360s can be a powerful and helpful resource.Be clear about the rules, however. Give people the option to keep the information private between them and the coach.And how about doing a review yourself? The team will grow, everyone will learn something helpful and the anxiety should moderate.Paul Boynton, president and chief executive of Moore Center Services, Manchester, is also a personal coach, corporate consultant, motivational speaker, host of the television show, “Begin with Yes” and author of the book by the same name. He can be reached at