In today’s “only judge me by my performance” culture apparently a lot of managers are looking beyond the numbers turned in at the end of the day. If a poll by Career Builder is accurate there are at least three major areas that can de-rail a person from upward mobility other than the work they produce.

I. Attitude and Behavior
Negative Attitudes & Chronic Lateness 62%
Spreading office gossip 44%
Salty language 51%

II. Attendance
Frequently leaving work early 49%
and/or taking lots of sick days
Time on personal social media sites 39%

III. Appearance
Provocative” clothing 44%
Shabby appearance 43%
Piercings (except “traditional” pierced earlobes) 32%
Tattoos. 30%
Attire is “too casual” for the office 27%
Unprofessional or ostentatious hair 24%
Facial hair 24%
Heavy perfume or cologne 21%
Too much make-up 15%

Survey of 2,175 managers by CareerBuilder and Harris Poll (

This survey is especially interesting to me since I started my career about the time that “trait based” performance evaluations were on the way out. Criteria like dependability and initiative had to be taken off of evaluation forms because they were not “job related”. The whole emphasis, driven by the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (Equal Employment Opportunity) law was that any and everything that impacted decisions about an employee’s career had to be job related. It appears that either things have not changed that much or else they are starting to turn back for a “performance only” related focus.

Most people will probably not have a problem with the first two areas, attitude and behavior and attendance and their impact on job performance. The third area will produce some controversy.

Questions for discussion:
• How valid is it to consider a person’s appearance on the job when assessing them for promotions?
• Does appearance reflect how serious the person takes their employment or is it simply individual that should be tolerated? If so, should a line ever be drawn and if so, where?”
• Is appearance situational depending on the job held or is appearance always important because it affects other employees and reflects on the unit inside the organization?
• If customers would find a person’s appearance “odd” and if the company might be in danger of losing that customers business as a result, is that a valid reason to deny a person job assignments or promotions?
• Is it appropriate to not consider the person as having potential to move up but never talk to them about the reason, especially of it falls in the appearance category and therefore is very personal? (What’s a person going to do about their tattoos?)
• If the manager finds it offensive and simply never promotes the person is that a legitimate leadership prerogative?
• If the person whose appearance is in question has outstanding performance beyond that of their peers, does that change the discussion?

Copyright 9 By 9 Solutions 2016 All Rights Reserved

1 Comment

  1. Bob Gately

    Criteria for promotions seem to be well guarded secret.

    Gately’s Theorem on Promotions:

    1. Some employees think they are ready for a promotion 2 to 6 years before they are ready.

    2. Some managers think their direct reports are ready for a promotions 2 to 6 years after they are ready.

    3. Therefore, some employees are waiting anxiously from 4 to 10 years.

    4. Managers need to share with their direct reports the steps necessary for a promotion from minimum time, quality of work, knowledge, work ethic, behaviors, etc.

    Employees should not be surprised when they are not promoted.

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