A Pig in a Suit Still Stinks
A professional environment is a pig sty that slows development, blocks innovation, and belittles authenticity.
If professionalism is about competence, count me in. But there’s a difference between being professional and professional environments.
People protect themselves with distance, decoration, and disconnection in professional environments.
Protocol dominates professional environments.
The purpose of a professional environment is exclusion. It’s easy to rule out people if they don’t wear the right clothes, use the right language, or know the right people.
The good ole boys club emerged from professional environments.
People on the fringes languish in professional environments.
You can look like a professional and be incompetent.
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Mark Twain
Given the choice between no clothing and clothes, choose clothing. But a pig in a suit still stinks.
Professional environments promote charades that shield higher ups.
You never met an innovator that wore a suit and tie.
A person who dresses professionally only masquerades as an innovator.
Every culture has rules to live by. Family culture tends to avoid tough conversations, for example. The rule for professional environments is fakery trumps reality.
Professional environments stimulate shallow relationship. Authentic relationships strike a blow to the charade of impression management.
Being relational isn’t being unprofessional.
- People are judged by their competence and contribution, not their parking spot.
- Time with the boss energizes people.
- Authenticity works. People know each other’s strengths AND weaknesses.
- People feel like they belong.
- Tough conversations may be delayed too long.
- Co-workers are friends.
- Success is more about teams than superstars. Competition is friendly, not cutthroat. People compete to improve themselves, not to crush co-workers.
What’s uncomfortable about relational environments?
How might leaders nudge their teams, boards, and themselves toward authentic relationship?
Good post Dan with an excellent perspective on embracing others!!
This is a challenging post; in my environment, we look to professionalism for fostering civility and respect, not necessarily as a proxy for reinforcing hierarchical behaviors. I am wondering how best to support the kinds of behaviors that allow people to be authentic without also encouraging disregard for personal boundaries and appropriate verbal interactions. In coaching others, I find that this is the delicate balance.
Thanks for your reflections Amy. You appreciate what I’m poking at. Boundaries are essential, along with good manners and respect. I wonder if a culture that is founded on delivering results through relationships has impact on several aspects of business. For example, when giving feedback, what if the goal includes strengthening the relationship?
I also believe that higher ups have a big impact on relational environments. When higher ups isolate themselves or put on a front, it’s difficult to build a relational culture. Culture starts at the top.
Thanks for responding, Dan! I am a big believer in the tone from the top, and I recognize the challenges inherent in that, too. I will also strive to include the idea of strengthening the relationship when giving feedback; what a great goal! Have a great day!
Intriguing challenge for sure. I was taught Business people dress in business atire and the rest follow the dress codes appplicable to the duties performed, uniforms if required etc. Surely the individiduals fit the cloths for their duties, not necessarily the fit the job requirements, “you can dress them up” as you mentioned and “they still can be incompetent”.
I believe the authentic part is keep an open door and listening ear, tell it like it needs to be. “Straight shooters” will lay the path out for those to follow.
Hmmm. Terminology and definitions can often be confusing and perhaps misleading. I want to work in a professional environment because I would believe it would be operated in a professional manner. A “relational environment” should be a part of and assist in creating a professional environment. I understand the point of the post and agree with the concept, but to not have or encourage a professional environment is not very professional. Hah!
Hi Dan, I have to agree and disagree.
Agree; wearing jeans and comfortable shoes doesn’t affect my critical thinking or other aspects of my competence and capability, only the perceptions of the shallow and uninformed!
Disagree; pigs don’t stink, I should know my parents raised pigs when I was a child. Pig sties stink if you don’t remove the pig’s waste; much like where people live. Pigs are actually very clean and ours would always designate an area of their run as their toilet… it was usually a discreet place to the side or behind one of their pens.
As usual I love your hog… sorry blog!!!