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Ask Dan
Some of my male staffers ogle and offend the "booth babes" we hire for our exhibit. How do I curtail this behavior?

The biggest asset of so-called booth babes, i.e., their physical charms, can also be one of their biggest drawbacks. For as their beauty begets desired attention from the public, it can also elicit unwanted attention from others — in this case, some of your staffers.

Many exhibitors are now shying away from using booth babes because they think their use is outdated and perhaps offensive. But since your company wants to continue this tactic, my advice is to meet with your staffers before any relevant shows. Explain to them that the company is hiring these people to achieve various business objectives, and that their behavior detracts from those goals.

Next, lay down some strict rules of conduct. For example, tell them to refrain from derogatory comments at all times, on and off the show floor since they can never tell who might overhear them. You might also suggest they avoid using the term "booth babe" itself, and substitute something more respectful, such as "brand ambassador" or "spokesperson." Should they not adhere to these rules, tell them they will be subject to written reprimands, or whatever disciplinary protocols your company employs. By linking staffers' negative behavior to disrupting company goals and the possibility of serious consequences, you'll help make them more respectful and less rude.

Dan Lumpkin, organizational psychologist, is the president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. Need answers? E-mail your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com.
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