There are a lot of sayings, new and old,
along the lines of treating the janitor the same as you’d treat the CEO. For
example, do unto others as you’d have them do unto you; or never judge a book
by its cover. While nothing here is overly profound, and you’ve likely heard
them a thousand times, they tend to ring truer than ever as we enter 2017,
especially for sales people.
We’ve become a rather relaxed society in
terms of business etiquette and business attire. More and more we find
companies moving to a casual dress code, and with this dress code, there also
tends to be a more casual atmosphere in the office. Many companies today have
gone to a condensed work week, employee-favored work from home policies, and in
some cases unlimited time off. Obviously with these types of environments and
policies in place, employers have increased trust in their employees. One must
be trusted to get their work done, otherwise they may not last too long.
There are two sides to my post this
week. The first is how you should treat others in this type of environment
while the second is how you need to act if you too wish to be treated like the
As we enter 2017 and the relaxed
business climate seems to becoming more frequent, this does not in any way,
shape or form mean you can be relaxed when calling on a prospect or client.
Regardless of “their” environment there is still an expectation of
professionalism for “you” when calling on them. Being casual can mean a lot of
different things to different people. You don’t necessarily need to be in a
suit & tie when calling on a company that allows shorts & flip-flops in
the office. But, a sense of professionalism should withstand the casualness in
front of you, so I would recommend khaki’s and a golf shirt, as an example.
When you engage others in conversation
or when you are approached at a networking event, you should be mindful that
you never know who this person is or what position they hold. Moreover, it is a
basic approach to human decency that you should respect others, but selfishly
you should also be mindful in a casual society that the woman in the t-shirt
and yoga pants meeting you for coffee may be the chief marketing officer that
you’ve been trying to get in front of for 6 months.
Being mindful of these old sayings kept
me on my toes recently. During the Christmas holidays I met with a few friends
for lunch. Joining us was a “friend of a friend” and so I thought nothing of him joining the group. We were all calling it a half-day in our respective organizations so we
could have a beer or two. Knowing we’d all be coming from work, it didn’t
surprise me when some were in suits and others were business casual. However,
the friend of a friend was wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and a baseball cap. He
looked as though he just rolled out of bed and rushed to meet us. Turns out he
was taking the day off and doing a little shopping. Oh yeah, he’s the CFO for a
global Fortune 100 company. The moral of this little story: don’t judge a book
by its cover.
And then there are those out there who
don’t want to be judged either by the appearance. It may be they can be casual
or required to dress up. They may be younger by age in an older working
environment. My advice to you, those that fall into this group, is to treat
others as you’d like to be treated. Be patient and relax. Do not try to force yourself
into a work related social setting just to be included, instead be patient and
wait to be invited. Most importantly be yourself. Do not put on an act and
attempt to be something you are not simply to gain popularity, respect or to
garner another’s attention. If you are a janitor and wish to be treated as an
equal to the CEO, be a decent human being, and always treat everyone you encounter
as if they were the CEO.