We have probably all been, at one time in our careers, in an organization where things were not going so well. Maybe sales were down due to increased competition, maybe our products and services were not in alignment with what the market was demanding, or maybe we flat-out had exhausted the supply of every customer who might want one or two of whatever it is we were offering. There are probably thousands of reasons why once successful organizations can fall on hard times.
But often, especially when working in a classic support function like IT or HR, we are not immediately aware of just how bad things are becoming for the organization overall. Sure, the CHRO probably has some idea of what is going on, when he/she is asked to provide some numbers on potential staffing reduction scenarios, but often awareness of these plans does not reach very far down into the organization until, of course, it is too late for impacted folks to react or 'pro' act, if you get my meaning.
So for rank and file folks, who are always the last to know everything, it pays to get attuned to the signs or signals that things in the organization might not be going as well as they once were. These are smaller, more subtle kinds of things that are not as dramatic as a layoff or a C-level shakeup, but might be as important nonetheless, as they point to a present and future that might not be as fun and gamesy as the past.
What are some of these signals? First up, courtesy of our pals at venerable technology giant HP is the 'Dress Code Crackdown'. Check this excerpt from The Register:
Troubled HP has hit upon what it thinks is a terrific idea to revive its fortunes: tell techies to leave their T-shirts and shorts at home and obey the corporate "smart casual" dress code instead.
Some R&D teams within HP Enterprise Services were sent a confidential memo this week reminding them to follow the IT giant's rules against workplace fashion faux pas, The Register has learned.
"If you aren't dressed like the models in the posters that HP displays around its locations, then your appearance is sapping the productivity of the workers around you," one source, who asked to remain anonymous, quipped.
The dress code memo was sent out because higher-ups believe customers visiting HP's offices will be put off by scruffy-looking R&D engineers, we're told.
The order to tuck in shirts and smarten up for guests has not gone down well, apparently: some HP developers, who do not deal with customers directly, were quite enjoying wearing T-shirts and shorts at work during these warm summer months.
According to HP, men should avoid turning up to the office in T-shirts with no collars, faded or torn jeans, shorts, baseball caps and other headwear, sportswear, and sandals and other open shoes. Women are advised not to wear short skirts, faded or torn jeans, low-cut dresses, sandals, crazy high heels, and too much jewelry.
The Enterprise Services division employs more than 100,000 people across the world, from the UK and Australia to India and Germany, as well as cities in the US.
"There are customers around, and HP doesn’t want them to think riffraff work here," one source told El Reg.
Nice. At least HP is sticking to the script and the classic reasoning of the dress code police - that 'customers' somehow might be offended if they spot a coder in a T-shirt and a hoodie.
What matters here has nothing at all to do with customers, or even if there are really some technical folks at HP that are going a little too far with 'coder casual' attire at work. No company has a 'dress code' problem. They might have a few people here and there that need a little bit of guidance, sure. But when organizations, especially massive ones like HP start going off with internal memos about dress codes and posting up examples of 'acceptable' dress, then you can be sure there are problems far, far worse than the Queensryche T-shirt that Jeremy wore last Tuesday.
It is a signal, and an ominous one at that.
When you are talking about dress codes you are not talking about things that really matter. And often it is because you've run out of ideas for how to attack the things that do matter.
If you are in a company and get one of those memos, take it as a sign that worse news is coming. and maybe sooner than you think.
Have a great week!