I work at a software company, and our dress code around the office is fairly relaxed most of the time. Therefore, when I'll be in the office all day and not seeing any customers in person, I usually wear blue jeans.
The other day, I didn't have any clean jeans so I threw on a pair of khaki trousers from The Gap and went to work. I got quite a few comments like, "Why are you so dressed up - is a customer visiting today?"
Why was I surprised by this reaction? I was (literally) wearing all the same clothes --right down to the shoes-- that I usually wear to work except the blue jeans. Changing my trousers noticeably changed others perception of my professionalism.
This small effect reminded me that it doesn't take much to positively influence how others perceive us. I'm not just talking about clothing - I think the "little bit extra" factor can make a difference in a lot of things we do.
Now, I'm trying to be more conscious of when I could add a "little bit extra" to key activities and deliverables in my job to positively impact others' perception of my work. For example, some examples of areas I can improve are:
- Planning more for meetings I chair and sending out agendas, expectations, and pre-reading ahead of time.
- Being more conscientious about follow-up after meetings and calls, including sending out meeting recaps and action items.
- Being more proactive in informing others in my team about things that I'm working on which may affect them.
This is not an overnight change, as it takes time to develop new habits in this area, but I think it will be worth it. Just added a Next Action to my "@computer - web" list to order more khakis...
What about you - have you discovered any small changes that make a big positive difference?