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What Would You Do?

Here's a situation for you. In this weekend's New York Times, a reader seeks advice:

My assistant doesn’t do anything for her appearance — no make-up, hair pulled back (and looking greasy) and dumpy clothes. I try to set a good example by being put together. Now that summer is here, she’s wearing open sandals and doesn’t paint her toenails. Her feet look rather unkempt, and I think painted nails pull a look together — especially in summer! How do I have a conversation with her? She wants to move out into the business world in the next year or so, after she completes her M.B.A.

The columnist suggests "keeping your beauty tips to yourself" and advises against crossing "the line of inappropriate topics." I agree, particularly because the advice-seeker doesn't mention anything about the job performance. Besides, this boss seems pretty high-maintenance.

On the other hand, the assistant's unkempt appearance isn't helping her career, and in strict business settings, looking polished is part of the gig. If her appearance began to distract people from focusing on her accomplishments, what would you do as her manager?


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