The senior vice president of a mid-sized company saw the need to create a change
in the workforce, which had enjoyed an extremely casual dress code and equally casual
behavioral standards for years. The time had come to step up the company’s image
as it was growing into new areas and seeing an influx of new clients and investors.
A six-month educational project was developed. Employees were first provided training
to introduce the importance of professionalism in every aspect of the work environment.
A company blog was created to which employees could post anonymously and vent frustrations
and encouragement at the changes taking place. Small company focus groups were created
to disseminate the plans for increased professional image and gain ideas for the
best handling of plans.
Image consulting began with instruction in inexpensive options for acquiring the
proper workplace wardrobe. Those who desired it were provided with personal consulting
sessions. Many employees took the opportunity to “turn over a new leaf” and become
skilled “impression managers.”
“Mystery guest” clients were engaged to meet with various departments, teams, and
employees and provide their impressions of the workforce. Evaluations of the visits
were posted on the company blog and discussed in company-wide meetings and in focus
groups. These evaluations included the impressions the mystery clients had of the
behavior of those with whom they met and the general feelings they perceived. These
eye-opening evaluations gave staff a new view of why professional image and behavior
The end of the project saw a dramatic improvement in the company’s workforce. Employees
were more engaged, some even expressing excitement at being a member of a workforce
that cared about promoting the best in professional image. Managers were more discriminating
in the hiring process and felt more confident of their hiring decisions. Counseling
employees yielded more productive outcomes.
Case Study 2
A supervisory laboratory was created for a large (500+ employees) company that recognized
many new managers were struggling with the role and duties of a supervisor. Materials
were developed in cooperation with the HR department and instruction ran once a week
for ten weeks.
Results were significant: several new managers approached HR with a concern they
might not be ready for a manager’s position, allowing HR to offer individual coaching
and, in one case, reassignment (thus preventing the loss of a good employee). Overall,
the managers expressed greater confidence in their positions and shared a resulting
camaraderie that gave the project an unexpected, but extremely welcome, conclusion.
The HR department was delighted to have a program that was successful, had great
through-the-grapevine recommendations, and could be implemented as an employee development
Case Study 3
The president of a small office equipment sales company arranged for personal coaching
for the sales manager, who had been a salesperson for years but wanted to make a
go of managing the sales force. The president had concerns about the man’s ability
to handle the job, but wanted to afford him every opportunity to succeed. He felt
coaching would reveal the strengths and weaknesses that could either be addressed
or would be a clear indication of a poor fit for the job.
Weekly coaching was arranged for the new manager. His personality and management
style were probed, and his approaches to various challenges on the job were explored.
As coaching progressed, the general nature of the sessions were discussed with the
president and Sue provided ideas and thoughts on the possible directions that could
be taken. In the end, the president terminated the manager, confident that he had
provided what was needed for success. He told Sue, “I feel good that I did everything
I could and I know I made the right decision. Your counsel was invaluable.”
Case Study 4
A young company president and three of his executives were embarking on an aggressive
hunt for venture capital funding. They recognized they were unskilled in business
and dining etiquette and wanted to ensure their efforts would not be derailed by
something as simple as what fork to use or how to introduce one another. Several
training sessions were provided. Three fine dining experiences were held, during
which dining manners were demonstrated and practiced. “We feel so good now about
how we package ourselves,” the president related. “The only thing that could hold
us back now is a bad business plan--we have no fear that it will be our manners!”