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Dress Code Policies and Procedures Power Plays and Players

I am a volunteer for a public citizens' group. One of the rules is a dress code for male members to wear a coat and tie at all formal functions. One of our members began wearing a T-shirt at the formal meetings. Several of our members asked him to uphold our dress code or resign, but he has done neither. His attitude is that he didn't care how it looked or what we thought. Our foreperson wants nothing to do with the problem and ignores it. How can this issue be handled?

Just as participating in a volunteer organization is optional, some people think that following the rules of these organizations is optional as well. The attitude of these people is something like, "I'm a volunteer...if you don't like what I'm doing, that's too bad. I can always volunteer somewhere else."

Ignoring the rules can also be a power play. This particular volunteer may be trying to show everyone that he is above the rules, above you and the other volunteers, and is so important that he can do whatever he wants. However, when people get to choose the rules that they wish to follow or ignore, there is no need for rules at all.

The larger problem in this situation is the foreperson. In fact, the foreperson's indifference indicates that he or she is not at the fore at all. You and the other volunteers should meet with this person and present some suggestions. In a word, either the rule should be followed or abolished. If the organization is trying to project a particular image at the formal events and the T-shirted volunteer feels that this image is not for him, then perhaps the organization is not for him either.

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