Dress Code: smart casual, no jeans (unless your name is Jean of course)

I'm sure you have been there; the resilient nightmare that stops us in our tracks before we attend the 'Team Away Day' or 'Staff Training' session. Wtf shall I wear? "Hey Joe, what are you wearing tomorrow?" No mate, you can't wear jeans, it says so on the email. Smart casual, but no jeans”.

Regardless of what the email said, you just know someone will turn up in their jeans! Perhaps even the trendy ripped ones. And of course, there will be loads of middle aged men with their shirts worn outside of their trousers; looking like they are going for a night on the town or at the very least, for a few beers and curry night at the local Wetherspoons!

Team away days can be great events! A ‘love in’. They give the opportunity to feel different and be different at work. A bit more of a relaxed atmosphere and of course, the hope of something exotic on the lunchtime buffet!

The agenda has been set, the boss and the trusty lieutenants all have their respective ‘key note messages’ to give to the rest of the team. Targets have been set; lessons to be learned (they actually mean lessons to be identified). There will be flip charts and marker pens scattered around the room. Hopefully biscuits too! Jammy dodgers? Sparkling water and mints.

Perhaps even the boss and the senior managers have forked out and purchased some Haribo’s to help enable the safe passage of the difficult change management session.

Can’t wait? Well, it’s the chance to go somewhere different; be out of the office and the workplace. See the colleagues and work mates in their ‘non-work’ clothes. A change is as good as a rest.

But sit back, relax, brace yourself, for the twilight zone awaits of the inevitable death by power point challenge at monotone speed. "OMG, someone pass me a needle please".

You can't come in here with those on

But what does smart casual really mean these days? I’m always smart and casual? And no jeans? Does that mean I have to go and buy some chino’s? Shit! This is stressing me out man! I might not go to the away day for fear of failing the dress code requirements. It’s all a bit too much for me to take! Are dark jeans ok?

“Do you think this looks ok for the team away day tomorrow love? I think we are going to talk about cost improvements. Where is it being held? It's at that 4-star hotel just off the motorway and they are laying on a buffet". "Yeah that’s right love, cost improvements.. with a buffet!”

These boots are made for walking

So, after some careful consideration and going through the options available, you pick your ‘outfit’ for the day.

Perhaps you even got something new to wear and you can then swear blind to colleagues ’what this, new?..no this isn’t new, I’ve had it for ages’.

You arrive and you start to notice the variance in the other attendees ‘interpretation’ of smart casual. Yes.. someone has got their jeans on!

Some are still wearing their usual work clothes (there is always at least one). And mmm, she/he looks nice. Go on, tell them!

Then the boss walks in and is wearing a short sleeve white shirt with a red tie and light grey trousers. He looks like he has just parked his bus up the road.

Someone looks as though they shouldn’t be wearing ‘that outfit'. How old is she?

And as for the fellas (usually those who operate in the 40 – 58 year old group) are wearing their shirts outside of their trousers. This is partly in response to ‘smart casual’ and partly, to hide the waistline.

Shake a tail feather

In the end, the smart casual challenge came and went. What was all the fuss about? We all wore our ‘tail feathers’ and hopefully had a brilliant day!

Some contributed more than others. The usual loud ones and the quiet ones. A loud voice alone does not make a great leader though. Some got their money’s worth at the buffet and some may have brought the their own because they didn’t know there was a buffet (there is normally at least one of those too!).

We set the scene of where we came from; where we are now and where we are going. After all, the boss has brought his own bus along today and we are the ‘right people’ to help them get to the ‘right’ destination. It’s a love town atmosphere.

And there are always the extra 'private meetings' for those 'who are in the know and need to know'.

But overall, we can do this. We need to do this. Meet the expectations and challenge the perceptions. Project managed deadlines and manage the risks. I believe I can fly. On the wings of a dove. The wind beneath my wings. We, are the champions, my friend. And we’ll keep on fighting, til the end…

Team bonding over a hot and cold buffet can be an amazing experience, as long as you didn’t get any sweet chilli sauce over your new (erm, I mean old) top!

It will wash out I’m sure. You are resilient.


Paul Kudray

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - A truly down to earth, grounded individual who is a resilience professional. Helping people and organizations to build and maintain their capabilities to respond to and recover from, crisis, emergencies or disasters. Paul is the 'resilience maverick' because he is not like the average resilience professional. He uses his great people skills to break down a complicated and often scary subject to make it easier to understand, want and need. Paul wants to help everyone be a bit more resilient because they can. paul@kudrayconsulting.com.

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