Button down corporate culture?

中国日报网 2015-08-28 10:21



Reader question:

Button down corporate culture?

What is “button down corporate culture”? Button down?

My comments:

This means that you're not supposed to go to the office wearing a T-shirt.

No shorts or slippers, either.

That's all.

I'm kidding. That's not all. Corporate culture is not just about dress codes but let's focus on the phrase button down at any rate.

Button down, you see, refers to the act of buttoning up (yes, up will do, too) one's shirt, by passing the buttons through the button holes. If you wear a uniform or suit, then buttoning up will give you the formal and tidy look you're looking for.


Well, that gives the look of someone who's listless, disorganized and unenergetic.


Well, this is how button-down means literally. By extension, a button-down corporate culture refers to the business environment of a company that is very, well, business-like, highly organized, serious and competitive.

“Culture” suggests that the company has been cultivating this type of environment or atmosphere for a long time and everybody is now familiar with and accustomed to it.

Anyways, do not wear any sweat shirt, shorts or slippers to work, okay? While others in their work uniform look sharp and ready for work, you, say, wearing a turtle neck shirt and jeans, may give the wrong impression that you're just, well, fooling around.

Steve Jobs wears a turtle neck and jean trousers, you point out.

You're right, I say. So do not wear a turtle neck and jean trousers while at work. While others in their work uniform look sharp and ready for work, you may give the wrong impression that Steve Jobs is still alive.

I mean, Steve Jobs is Steve Jobs. He's an exception that proves the rule. If you prove to be as exceptional as was the late Steve Jobs – may he now rest in peace (not competition) – you can wear anything you like.


All right, let's read a few “button-down” examples in the media:

1. It's always tough when you come across a movie in which there's no one to root for. Sometimes you find yourself rooting for the least insufferable of all of them, or, more often, hoping that all of the characters die in a bus accident, but usually you tend to gravitate towards the most charismatic and entertainingly cruel of the bunch. And in this particular movie, that's Stone, Edward Norton's cornrowed convict, who displays both willful ignorance and deadly cunning in his attempts to earn himself an early parole. Norton has always loved his accents, and his streets-of-Detroit delivery is funny at first, then sad, then just plain evil. The story of how he gets from here to there doesn't have a lot of twists in it, although it meanders quite a bit, but it serves to show off the new, entertaining character he's created.

Stone's parole officer is Jack Mabry (Robert De Niro), who we learn right off the bat is a bit of a bastard. In flashback (as played by Dollhouse's resident mimic Enver Gjokaj), we see that he essentially blackmailed his wife into staying in their loveless marriage by threatening their daughter's life. Thirty years later, not much has changed, except that his wife (Frances Conroy) is a broken shell of a woman, who lives only for the Bible and her jigsaw puzzles. And Mabry, who's on the verge of retirement, seems to be a by-the-books stickler who doesn't brook any insolence or sex-talk from his cons. De Niro has played these emotionally distant characters before (most recently in Everybody's Fine), and his awkward interactions with the filter-free Stone are entertaining, especially once you realize how much Stone is testing him. Or is he? Norton goes back and forth between seeming genuine in his quest for redemption and rebirth and clearly looking for an angle, and I can't tell if it's a well-played game, two sides of his nature or simply inconsistency.

Jovovich, playing Stone's wife Lucetta, is the third point in the triangle, a day care center employee whom Stone points at Mabry, knowing that her good-girl looks and raw sexuality will make Mabry putty in her hands. You initially question how much Stone knows about her methods of coercion, and how much of a pawn she is in all of this, but Jovovich plays the part differently depending on who she's with and what the scene hopes to accomplish. She succeeds in ensnaring Mabry, despite his button-down attitude and general self-loathing, and also in tipping off Mrs. Mabry that something weird is going on, driving her deeper into her misery. Conroy doesn't really have too much to do other than look defeated, but she's a somber presence in the background, and she's the only thing in the movie that says there are consequences to the game that's being played. Otherwise, it's just a standard love con, pulled by two bad people on a third, that doesn't really do too much to change up the story besides attempt to elevate it with a lot of talk about hearing God's plans for people. Although it would have been nice to, y'know, see it.

- Stone: Sometimes Bad People Do Bad Things, TelevisionWithoutPity.com, October 22, 2010.

2. Target Corp. may be known for its button-down culture, but now the company's office workers might show up in a pullover.

The Minneapolis-based retailer relaxed its dress code this week, the Star Tribune reports.

Casual Friday is not just for Fridays anymore under the company's new “Dress For Your Day” policy. The Star Tribune says about 14,000 office workers are affected by the change, which allows them to shed traditional business wear in favor of more casual clothes including jeans, polo shirts, or sleeveless blouses when appropriate.

The newspaper says a company memo to employees recognizes the popularity of casual days, adding “We also know that life's a little easier when we have more choices — and less dry cleaning.”

The Pioneer Press says Target Corp. has long been famous for requiring traditional business attire such as suits, ties, and dresses. A Target spokeswoman tells the paper the change extends to workers some creativity and control over deciding what's appropriate. “This gives control to all of our team members … what their needs require, and what they choose to wear,” Molly Snyder says.

The Star Tribune says even under the new policy some attire remains a no-no. Shorts, sweats, halter tops, and baseball caps don't make the grade, for example.

The Business Journal sampled reaction among Minneapolis clothiers who sell suits and ties, but found little or no trepidation about the change. The owner of Marty Mathis Clothiers tells the Business Journal: “I think the guys who are wearing sport coats now and really enjoy it are going to continue dressing up. … Your boss and your boss' boss are keeping an eye on you, so if you want to move up the ladder, it doesn't hurt to put on the dog-and-pony show.”

- Target aims to please workers with relaxed dress code, BringMeTheNews.com, March 6, 2014.

3. The five words familiar to any Patriots fan tumbled out of Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll's mouth, a patented phrase from an unexpected source. As Carroll fielded the umpteenth question about his laconic running back, Marshawn Lynch, he punctuated his answer with “It is what it is,” the signature cliche of Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

We all know that often “it” isn't what it appears to be, and that's the case with the two coaches in Super Bowl XLIX. On the surface they appear to be as philosophically opposed as Republicans and Democrats. But strip away the personality packaging and they're more similar than you would think. They wouldn't be pursing the same 7 pounds of sterling silver on Sunday in Super Bowl XLIX, the Lombardi Trophy, if that weren't the case.

Carroll and Belichick are different, but also surprisingly the same, different sides of the same coaching coin. They're proof that there is more than one way to win in the NFL, but you can't do it without instilling your team with consistency, focus, discipline, and mental toughness.

The fun-infused Tao of Carroll is a departure from the Patriot Way of Belichick. Carroll has his team shoot hoops before team meetings. Belichick shoots death stares at players in team meetings. But both men believe fervently in their process and approach. They don't veer from their core belief systems, which have been honed by the highs and lows, success and lessons of being coaching lifers.

Personality-wise they're polar opposites.

Carroll bubbles with energy and enthusiasm. It's like he has espresso flowing through his veins. Carroll does everything to the max, including chomping on a stick of gum mercilessly during games. There is no football coach facade. He is a California kid — even at age 63 — who does life like he's merging full speed on to the 101. Carroll has a Twitter account.

The 62-year-old Belichick is steady, stolid, methodical, and analytical. He offers only glimpses behind his iron curtain. He is button-down and business-like. He parries questions with ease, uncommon intelligence and sardonic bon mots. His circle of trust is small, his impact on his team's success beyond measure. Belichick derisively refers to social media as MyFace, YourFace, InstaFace.

“They're both very passionate about the game,” said Fears, who was hired by Carroll in 1999 to coach wide receivers. “Everybody is different in how they approach it or how they project it to the people. Pete loves to show more of a showman when it comes to press. Bill is more reserved as far as that goes, and doesn't want to give you guys anything, but that's the way life is. That's just their personalities as far as that goes. As far as the game goes, oh, they're the same. They're truly dedicated to the game. They really are.”

- Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll have more in common than you think, BostonGlobe.com, January 31, 2015.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:Helen)

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