Let’s face it, no matter how systematic a business is, it is run by people, with people, and for people. When push comes to shove, people make choices based on who they like more. You will be amazed how much thought goes into deciding who gets pushed to a higher level of authority and who does not. Another fact that is worthy of note is people are the first representation any company has. How a company’s CEO, Managing Director or Manager present themselves, may be the only projection external stakeholders have of the company. Now, we can only speak for ourselves, but it is safe to say that any business owner would want external stakeholders to have only positive perceptions of the company.

As a result of the people-element of business, it suffices to say that the following attributes can make or break your chances of getting that promotion that you may be looking forward to.

  • Piercings:

Piercings can be cute and even attractive but there is a point when it becomes inappropriate or unnecessary for the world of work. Inasmuch as the corporate environment encourages you to be yourself, there is a silent rule that is whispered once you get into the game of corporate work. Here is the rule: “As much as possible, and as often as you can help it, avoid words, actions, clothes that turn heads, raise eyebrows and shake heads.”

  • Bad breath:

First impressions count. If your colleague or client has to struggle to breath comfortably every time they have a conversation with you, they will avoid that as much as possible. Bad breath is known to push people out of certain circles and to get a promotion, you need to work your way into the good graces of your superiors, and not the opposite.

  • Visible Tattoos:

Across the world, companies have relaxed tattoo policies. In Africa, though – excessive tattoos may not sit well with your company’s leadership. The truth is whether or not an employee has a tattoo need not affect how well they work and how well they will contribute to the company’s bottom line. It is also not a good reason to deprive workers from opportunities. Though the popular culture in Africa seems to be a little slow in catching up with the western world’s popular culture, you will not be denied the opportunity to work in a company because of your tattoo however, it may be the one thing that will make your boss hesitate.

  • Wrinkled Clothes:

You are how you dress! There is an assuring aura of confidence around a man with well-ironed clothes as opposed to one with wrinkled clothes. Stepping into a meeting with wrinkled clothes could insinuate the meeting was not important enough to merit taking the time and effort to look good for it.

  • Messy Hair:

Hair, especially for women could make all the difference in your look. Even the scruffiest kinds of hairstyles can be styled to look neat and decent. Workers get uncomfortable with colleagues who are unkempt with regards to their personal hygiene or environment. If you find it difficult taming your hair, you may find it difficult landing that promotion.

  • Casual Dress:

With the exception of offices that have a dress-down / casual dress policy, showing up for work in t-shirts and shorts may raise a lot of eyebrows – mainly the eyebrows of those who matter. Even in a work environment with a dress-down policy, management would like to know that you own a decent pair of trousers, loafers and a dress shirt. In an informal work setting, smart-casual clothes will set you above your other colleagues.

  • Too much perfume or cologne:

Most business executives believe they need to carry a fragrance with them that will linger even hours after they have walked away. Contrary to popular belief, your perfume or cologne can become a nuisance to breathing, once you over-do it. You will find that your colleagues will begin to dread your presence as it comes with suffocation.

  • Too much make up:

You want to look as natural and genuine as possible. If you patronize excessive make up, you may come off as superficial, especially at first impressions. You would want to look as presentable as possible, without doing too much.

  • Messy cubicle or office:

Again, workers get uncomfortable with colleagues who are unkempt, even at their desks and in their work environment. If your superiors walked up to your desk and there was litter and disorganisation everywhere, his confidence in your attention to detail and effectiveness will wane fast. Someone who has his surroundings put-together, may be more likely to have his life (and work) put-together.

  •  Chewed fingernails:

This may not be as pressing a reason as your work ethic but the state of someone’s fingernails can either be a pleasant surprise or an awful shock. That reaction will determine whether your boss retains positive reviews of you in his mind or not.

On the every-day playground at the workplace, top scorers are determined by how much you bring to the bottom line of the company, how well you work with others, how good you are at what you do, and your commitment to the job/organisation. Beyond this, if the playing field were level and several workers were viable candidates for a single slot promotion, these points will no longer seem petty, but may form the tipping point of that decision.


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