My supervisor is threatened by my dress sense

Q. I recently got a new job that I really love. I am a strong believer in dressing for success as it also boosts my self-esteem and productivity. I have

My supervisor is threatened by my dress sense
  • PublishedApril 15, 2021

Q. I recently got a new job that I really love. I am a strong believer in dressing for success as it also boosts my self-esteem and productivity. I have noticed that whenever I dress well, my supervisor frowns at me and tells me to tone down. How do I deal with such behaviour?

Concerned employee

A. First of all, congratulations on your new job and upbeat attitude towards building a positive corporate image. You are right on the fact that dressing up for success boosts self-esteem and employee productivity.

It is quite unfortunate that your supervisor can be intimidated by your dressing. This is not only unprofessional, but uncalled for and can be detrimental to your career prospects. Such behaviour speaks volumes on your supervisor’s character and insecurity. There are underlying issues that your supervisor needs to deal with for the sake of the organisation. He needs to understand that you are not a threat to him but an asset that must be treasured and exploited fully. With that said, here are tips on how you can deal with him.

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Make yourself indispensable: The best way you can deal with this behaviour is to be exceptional in your work. Work hard and go the extra mile to make your work speak for you. Your supervisor is probably already looking for reasons to get you fired so do not give him an opportunity by slacking on the job. Be the solution bearer in your company. Be the go-to person that everyone reaches out to whenever there is a need. Be excellent and always look for ways you can add value to the organisation.

Don’t take it personally:You have to realise that you are not to blame in this scenario. It is not your fault that you have a dashing sense of style and you value your job. Your supervisor’s jealousy is merely a reflection of their own inadequacies and low self-esteem manifested onto you. Change your outlook on how you view him. Instead of taking things personally, try and be more empathetic and feel good on the inside knowing that your supervisor has taken note of you and deems you a worthwhile ‘opponent’.

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Compliment him: This does not mean that you go on a flattering spree and lick his boots all the time. Drop an occasional genuine compliment. Compliment his tie or his shoes and smile while at it. Engage him in positive small talk. Keep sowing smiles and compliments and one day you will win him over.

Get allies: Get leverage over your insecure supervisor by making friends with your colleagues who can vouch for you if anything goes south. This is especially handy if your supervisor tries to slander your name to the overall bosses. Your allies will put in a good word on your behalf even in your absence.

Involve the HR: If you have exhausted all the above techniques without success, then it may be time to escalate your concerns with the human resource office. This may completely sever ties with your supervisor but that behaviour cannot go on. It amounts to harassment and must be stopped. If you choose this route, have a solid case by being objective. Avoid making emotional arguments and stick to facts. Collect hard evidence to support your case for example recordings and CCTV video clips.

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