Dress Code, or Nature vs. Nurture

Posted on: 1st February 2013

I was laughing with a friend this weekend. It was Sunday afternoon and we were sitting on his sofa and Sunday afternoon melancholy was beginning to settle in. We were both gloomily looking at our diaries and I had a pleasant surprise.

‘No meetings on Monday! I don’t have to wear a suit.’

It sparked a conversation about the dress code. I’m pleased because my current job allows me to dress the way I see fit. So I know when I have meetings I dress up, but on days where I don’t have meetings I can wear blue jeans!

It’s nice to be respected to make decisions about how I should look at work – especially as I work at a charity. A previous charity I worked at, in an effort to create a more professional work place, had implemented a dress code. Looking back I’m not sure it really helped at all, and in fact I think it had a negative impact on staff morale and overall job satisfaction.

The best way to change behaviour and create the things you want is to NURTURE them. As I look at the training I’m selling in the year ahead, I’m very much selling a nurturing environment. Why? Because it’s what our brain is hardwired to respond to.

The nature vs. nurture debate will rage for decades to come. As I research more and more about human behaviour it becomes increasingly apparent that both are important factors in how an individual develops. Nurturing though is the piece we have most control over so why don’t we spend more time talking about how to do it. Why don’t we help people become better at it? Why do we believe it’s only something that needs to happen when we’re young?

Managers need to nurture specific attitudes in their teams. It’s not the same type of nurturing as happens in childhood, but it’s still the same idea. If my previous job wanted a more professional environment they could have nurtured that in their staff and they just might have found a restrictive policy wouldn’t have been necessary.

I’ve only just started to scrape the surface of what nurturing looks like in an office environment, but expect to hear more from me in the future.


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