In this title, I am using the word "she" as a representative of any woman in the workplace and not at all thinking of any one woman in particular. However, at times I may bring to mind a certain woman (including myself) to make my point. So what made me write such a post? What do I think the answer to this question is? Why should we even care?
Well the other day a person I would consider to be one of the nicest college friends I ever had posted a quiz on Facebook titled "How Bitchy Are You?" At first, I thought now why would she do that? She's not even close! Although, her score was 52% which said she was a "Balanced Bitch". So a couple hours went by and without thinking much about it except to laugh to myself because I thought for sure my result would be much higher, I took the quiz. Now let me just say, as an educated adult, I do know there is not a lot of research that is behind these silly Facebook quizzes, but what the hey. My theory was correct and I did score higher by 10%, achieving the "balanced bitch" entitlement as well. Then another friend who scored only 23% took it. Honestly, I would have ranked both the friend that took it initially and the latter friend in the same category of friendliness (not bitchiness) due to my own personal experiences with them. Thus negating my trust in the quiz even further.
All this got me thinking of the use of the word "Bitch" in general and more specifically in the workplace. I remember as a young professional (YP), I was invited to join a ladies group called "Bitchin' Broads" and I was offended that they called themselves that and refused to be part of the group, because as a professional I didn't want to be associated. I felt at the time it gave women a bad name in the workplace. Little did I know at the time that in reality, if you simply spoke up, shared what was on your mind, refused to do something ridiculous, called others on their laziness, or anything that others might consider "crossing the line," that is what they called you (and still do). Why is that?
If you are passionate about something and convey that in the workplace you can kiss your reputation as the nice lady goodbye. Take on a supervisor, manager, director or above and actually not be afraid to do the job...life as you know it is over. Matter of fact, your most likely counter supporters are typically other women. I have had several women tell me that they preferred to work for a man than woman. With more women entering the workplace decade after decade and still not joining the numbers at the top as a majority like their male counterparts, is it because of this mentality? Are women holding women back just because they are too nice to appreciate bitchiness as a necessary competency for getting things done? Please note: I am not condoning bullying in the workplace. I consider that to be totally different and definitely inappropriate in the workplace. A bully is a downright jerk regardless of gender.
So, I know for a fact, I have been a bitch at times both in the workplace and in the volunteer roles I have held related to the workplace. When I posted my score and comment in Facebook "life can be a bitch at times and so can I. I'm sure many of you would agree! Ha! Ha!" not many responded and I know why. The truth hurts. It's not intentional and it's not something I look back on and am proud of all the time. However, it has been essential at least 75% of the time. Many do take it a compliment. Just look at these articles I pulled a quote or takeaway from related to my thoughts on the topic.
"The more of a bitch I am the more successful I become" http://www.forbes.com/sites/
"Stop saying I'm sorry - there is a time and place for apologies"http://m.contentfac.com/?url=
When it means making 18% more than your agreeable counterparts why not earn the bitch title? http://jezebel.com/stop-being-
And just in case you missed the Facebook Bitch Quiz, here's another you can take to see if you are one of the workplace "she's": http://www.gotoquiz.com/are_
Is the "she" in your workplace a bitch? My answer is "yeah, maybe" but is that a bad thing? Maybe not!
About the Author: Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the immediate past Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area.
Throughout the world there’s a huge gender gap in regards to business, and even in modern society women are still heavily discriminated against in the workplace. However, according to Inc., in the United States and Asia female entrepreneurs are both more innovative and more successful than their male counterparts. Here are the top three reasons why.
Women Take Fewer Financial Risks
A study conducted by the International Finance Corporation states that women are “less risky” than men. Taking fewer financial risks often leads to less debt and a slower rate of growth. Rapid expansion, however, can drive businesses into bankruptcy. This is because as expenses grow, so do costs, and they will often find themselves unable to cope with the demand. Women often prefer to keep their businesses smaller so they can focus on delivering a quality service and retain a better work/life balance.
A recent trend in this regard is the lack and women signing long term lease agreements for offices; and instead, opting for short term serviced offices. Unlike traditional office spaces – which often require a contract term of 3-5 years – serviced offices can be rented for as little as 1 month; provide services and facilities without overheads; provide a more prestigious working address; and most importantly, lower financial risk. Skyline Offices have compiled a case study exploring the benefits of serviced offices.
Women Often Seek Advice During the Startup Stages
70% of women who start businesses will seek advice prior to investing any time or money in their venture; and many partake in some form of government run business course. In addition, women are known to develop more thorough business plans and give their ideas more thought than men. Business leaders that prepare significantly increase their chance of success.
While seeking advice isn’t an innovative approach to conducting business, it can certainly help boost confidence and trigger more innovative ideas; especially in today’s remote working environment where high proportions of female entrepreneurs are starting new businesses online.
Women Place More Emphasis on Social Media
According to Forbes, women use social media a lot more than men; therefore, women business leaders tend to place more emphasis on social media marketing. It’s estimated that most female entrepreneurs invest roughly 79% of their online marketing budget on social media. While this may seem high; unlike other forms of online marketing, social media is a one-time investment because when a lead “follows” or “likes” a social network page or profile, they’ll be subject to free marketing in the future.
In addition to this paid traffic, Google looks favourably upon businesses that have an active social media presence and will reward them with higher organic rankings in the search engines. This can lead to a constant steam of free exposure.
Sadly, women are 18% less likely to believe that they can achieve success in business, which puts many talented individuals off the idea altogether. It’s going to take more than statistics to change narrow mindedness and gender discrimination; however, if women continue to yield successful results in the future, perhaps the faces of up-and-coming businesses will start to change.
Photo Credit: Jodie Womack
About the Author: Helen Wallis is a 30 something mum of one who enjoys reading and is a passionate blogger. Having worked in the big smoke for many years, Helen now enjoys a quieter lifestyle and indulges in her passion for writing and cooking.
Let me begin with saying I’ve very new in my career. I’m 22 and I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature in May of 2013 and started my current job six months ago.
There were some vital things I’ve learned since graduating. Since I’ve graduated, I’ve been laid off from a small internet marketing company, was self-employed for four months and then recruited for my current job. All this, while not entirely knowing what exactly I wanted out of my career.
My current title is SEO Technical Specialist (click on the link if you have no idea what that is, many people I’ve met do not)! I had my first review and first promotion last week. The last six months have been intense and exciting. Also terrifying and frustrating. I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far with starting my career in the corporate world as a young, female millennial.
Perception is Reality
One of the hardest things I’ve learned (in a very hard way) is keeping my cool. Working in the corporate environment, being new and being young, it takes me a little bit more work to have my ideas considered. That can be very frustrating.
The most important thing is to be sure you keep calm, both your voice and face. Take a moment to walk away and think about. Consider bringing up the subject in a different way. How you react will either improve or damage your relationship with the person you are working with.
It’s important to build a “brand” around yourself. Create a professional Twitter account, grow your Linkedin profile and watch your posts on Facebook. Building a brand is one way you can control other’s perception of you.
I work in an industry that changes all of the time. With that, I’m constantly reading industry blogs. Sometimes I’ve even been the first one in my department to share important industry news. This matters. Not only is it important so that you can continue to improve your work, but becoming a person who is clearly knowledgeable will gain you respect and recognition.
Get certification in an aspect of your field. There are lots of options for online learning. I’m currently investigating a Mini MBA in Internet Marketing. I come from a writing background and ended up (happily) in the field of Search Engine Optimization. It’s very exciting but can be challenging because many of my co-workers have more experience in both marketing and the technical side of my field. Want to become a leader in your field? Keep learning!
Goals Matter…Sort of
As I mentioned earlier, I read a lot of articles. Not just in my industry though; I want to learn how to develop my career, not just do my job to the best of my ability. An article I read called “How Millennial Women Are Shaping Our Future” had a statistic that stood out to me, “Eighty-three percent of Millennial women say they believe they are expected to be more successful than women in previous generations.” That’s a lot of pressure.
I’m very guilty of two things, being a procrastinator and a perfectionist. I believe many of my peers can identify with this. Getting this job, I’ve kicked the procrastination aspect but I still put a lot of pressure on myself to do it perfect.
In theory this sounds like a great characteristic for an employee! But in reality the pressure becomes so intense your work ends up suffering in the long run. It’s important to keep the big picture in mind when setting out to accomplish something. Whether a project at work or a promotion you’re aiming for.
With that said, I did not plan to have a career as an SEO Technical Specialist. All I knew was that I wanted a job, and a good one. I let the chips fall in place. This is what I mean by the “sort of” aspect. It’s amazing what can happen if you allow yourself to have loose goals with your career. Allow opportunities to present them to you. This can be the most rewarding and exciting aspect of your career development.
I can’t emphasize this point enough! The most important lesson I have learned is to never be afraid to ask questions. I’m not just talking about questions on projects or about your industry. Ask on ways to you can do something better, how you can improve and how you can help.
Volunteering for projects goes a long way. Asking how you can improve makes an impact. Your supervisors or managers will notice if you ask before the review on what you can improve upon.
I have so much left to learn. When I think about how inexperienced I will consider myself at this point when I look back a year, 2 years, or 10 years from now. But I feel that I’ve made some key discoveries I wanted to share. Both to my peers and to those wondering, “what’s up with those Millennials anyways?” Most of us are working hard. More importantly, most of us are trying to figure it all out.
About the Author: Lauren graduated from the University of South Florida in May of 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She now works in the field of Internet Marketing. She loves to write and learn how to be better at her job. Self-improvement, leadership, marketing, social media and SEO are some of the topics she most enjoys writing about. She also currently publishes her own personal blog sharing gluten-free recipes.
We all know how important it is to navigate and manage our own careers. However, it’s not always easy to know what to do or even when the best timing is to do it. Personal circumstances, boss’s opinions of us, and corporate restructurings all play a pivotal part in impacting the success of our leadership and career trajectory. Our tolerance for these external factors and how they impact our lives varies from time to time, but ultimately I believe we are the only ones who know what’s best; even if we have moments of being unsure of what move to make next.
Years ago when I was a corporate employee and ready to come back to work after maternity leave, I decided coming back part-time might be a good option to help me transition after having a baby. My boss saw my entrance back into the work force differently than I did. She actually told me that she did not think it possible to be both a serious career woman AND be a mother and suggested that I think about choosing which one of these was more important to me. After getting over the shock (and the potential unlawfulness of her comment), my tolerance for her navigating my career in this way was, as you might imagine, ZERO! So, I quit. I had no job, a 3 month old, an 18 month old, and was determined my career would resemble something I wanted and NOT something someone else wanted for me.
After managing through this unfortunate set of circumstances myself (ultimately not as unfortunate, as this conversation was the catalyst for starting my own business!), I learned many things. Here are three that helped me, and might help you as well, as you think about how to navigate your wants and your circumstances most effectively.
Even though we believe our careers are ours to manage, if we work for someone else, we often find ourselves at the affect of our boss’s idea as to what career move is available to us or not. Pay attention to the feedback you receive from your boss and your boss’s boss. You need to start reading between the lines, even if you don’t like what you see. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard an executive tell me they gave one of their employees some pretty tough feedback, but when I check in with the employee, they say that nothing unusual or critical in nature was discussed. My conclusion is that most of us really do believe we have spoken straight and clear when giving feedback, but in reality what was said isn’t necessarily heard as we intended. As a result, we have to get better at reading between the lines and asking lots of questions to obtain clarity so we can better plot a course for our next move.
Map out the path to the promotion, job, or title you desire and feel you deserve. No one wants what you want more than you do and no one will take the wheel for you. You are in the driver’s seat, but beware; this journey is not for weenies. You will need to stay alert, read the signs, and stay focused on your destination. It’s OK to take a detour or two as no career progression is traveled in a straight line. Keep your eyes on your destination otherwise it becomes easy to take too many side streets just waiting for “them” to change their minds and see just how talented you really are.
To be fully satisfied in your work, you first have to decide what it is that you want, and then commit to having it in a singularly focused kind of way. It does happen, although rarely, that the Universe just guides and glides us along without effort towards our dreams and goals. Most of the time however, we actually have to do stuff to make what we want become a reality. It takes persistence, commitment and acting outside your comfort zone to obtain the brass ring you have your sights on. Have conversations with key stakeholders (bosses, mentors and a coach) as to what’s required to readjust your actions, recalculate a misguided direction you may have made, and to understand clearly the gap between where you are and where you want to ultimately be.
As you navigate your career, no matter how old or young you are, you will either head towards something you want or escape from something that’s not working for you, like in my case with my boss. Giving yourself time to think about your career progression actually allows you to work ON your career and not just be IN it. It is a smart thing to do and will pay off by putting you in the drivers seat over and over again.
About the Author: Wendy Capland is known as one of America’s top women leaders on the topic of leadership development. As Chief Executive Officer of Vision Quest Consulting, Wendy has 25 years of experience working with hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals developing their most important asset, their people. She is the author of Your Next Bold Move for Women: 9 Proven Steps to Everything You Ever Wanted. www.WendyCapland.com
What is a great corporate culture? Among other things, it’s that intangible something that motivates and inspires employees to do their best work, whether they are under the watchful eyes of management or not. But a great corporate culture doesn’t happen overnight. It must be consciously cultivated and constantly protected as one of the company’s greatest assets. After all, that culture—that unique “collective corporate environment”—is what drives productivity and sets an organization apart from its competitors. Being that creating a healthy corporate culture is essential for all businesses, here’s a look at two key factors—Employee Recognition and Discipline—and the importance of each in creating and protecting your corporate culture.
In many ways you could call employee recognition a culture within itself. After all, what better way to recruit and retain top talent than by being recognized as a company that knows how to recognize and appreciate its employees? It’s no wonder that employee recognition programs are becoming more prominent among small and large organizations, as they can help businesses create and protect a positive corporate culture by…
Creating an atmosphere of trust and respect
Proper recognition helps create an environment where employees are encouraged to openly share ideas and opinions because they feel that what they have to say is important to the company and appreciated by management. Good managers understand that recognition isn’t always about the pat on the back or some tangible reward. True recognition is more about employees being able to actively contribute in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, without fear of reproach or being shot down.
Fueling employee engagement
It’s no secret that engaged employees are happier employees. Recognition programs can help to fuel greater employee engagement by appropriately recognizing individual achievements, at the same time encouraging more of the same. The most effective rewards are specific to the task that has been accomplished. They are also all-inclusive, being distributed across all levels of the organization so every employee feels that they have a fair chance of receiving recognition. Rewards should also be delivered quickly with respect to the task or behavior that is being recognized. And finally, the more meaningful and relevant the reward is, the more it will fuel a corporate culture of happy and engaged employees.
Reinforcing positive behaviors throughout the entire organization
A corporate culture has the power to influence every aspect of an organization for good or bad. Employee recognition and rewards programs help to promote a positive culture by reinforcing positive behaviors throughout the entire organization. This is especially true of “strategic” employee recognition, which can spur innovation by encouraging employees to repeat desired behaviors over and over.
Unlike the word implies, discipline, with respect to building and protecting a corporate culture is not about implementing and enforcing a cold harsh set of rules. Discipline is about creating the desired climate from the top down. It’s about management teams that are committed to:
Set and communicate clear goals
Employees respond well to management that clearly communicates corporate goals and expectations. Clear goals help employees recognize the specific roles they play in helping the company accomplish its objectives. In addition, clear and realistic goals, along with suitable recognition for achieving those goals, challenges and motivates employees to do their best work, which is what a great corporate culture is all about.
Model the desired culture
Think of a business with a great culture and you can be sure that the desired corporate values and expectations are modeled from top leadership on down. Practicing what is preached allows management to effectively discuss corporate values, principals and behavioral expectations with employees in an open and positive atmosphere. Plus, leading by example sets a true standard that employees will more willingly try to emulate.
Even the most motivated employees need managers to lead them to act. And they tend to respond best to managers who hold themselves to the same standards of excellence, responsibility and accountability that they ask of employees. Especially those leaders that actively and effectively recognize and reward employee accomplishments. This type of leadership is essential for cultivating and protecting a positive corporate culture.
About the Author: Robert Cordray is a freelance writer and expert in business and finance. He has received many accolades for his work in teaching solid entrepreneur advice.
The old Mars versus Venus debate is back and this time it’s in the business arena. Traditionally, men have always had an edge over women in running businesses- more men own businesses and high revenue businesses are mostly controlled by men. So why ask this question? With many women rising to break the glass ceiling and proving that gender has nothing to do with success, it is indeed a valid question. Women are showing that they can handle business as well as men, if not better.
The rise of women in business: Why women are better at calling the shots
The last few years have seen a steady rise of women-owned businesses in the country. From startups to corporate giants, a number of women CEOs run companies. Business is no longer male-dominated. According to a 2013 report by American Express OPEN, women own 8.6 million businesses in America. Moreover, women-owned businesses have grown by 59 percent between 1997 and 2013 and this trend is set to continue in the next few years. As more women step into the business game, it brings us back to the question: Are women better at doing business? Here are five areas where women fare better than men, research has confirmed. All of them are important in the task of running a successful business. The findings may just about convince you!
Women were rated as better leaders than their male counterparts in a 2011 study carried out by Zenger Folkman Inc., the Harvard Business Review reports. Women score higher than men in most of the competencies critical in leadership, scoring high in qualities like taking initiative and pushing hard for results.
2. Decision making
The fairer sex lives up to their name. Research shows that women bosses are fairer than their male counterparts when it comes to making critical decisions in the company. A study by the International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics found that women leaders involved others in the decision making process and companies that had female board members were more successful, reports The Daily Telegraph.
3. Financial emergencies
A 2013 HSBC study has found that men are more likely than women to touch their retirement savings when faced with a financial crisis. More women also considered economizing as a possible means of dealing with financial crisis, the study adds. Going by this study, women seem to be better financial planners, a quality that is vital in business.
4. Credit management
A study by the American Association of University Women shows that women may just be better at handling debt than men, says a report by CBS News. While men and women are equal in terms of average credit scores, men tend to have bigger mortgages and higher incidents of late payments.
5. Social responsibility
Women leaders are more likely to contribute towards activities that have a societal impact. The 2013 U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth reveals that female entrepreneurs love to give back to their community, Forbes reports. Philanthropy plays a big part in the financial portfolio of women leaders, more than men.
An article by American Express further makes the case for women, citing five reasons on what makes women more effective bosses than men- they are better at communication, better at fostering relationships, have got stronger business ethics, they are more patient and better at triggering passion in employees.
Women have always excelled in the corporate sector, but their numbers in top positions have been dismal. But these studies show why women may be better business handlers and how they make more successful leaders as compared to men. Some of the findings may have come as a surprise- traditionally men have been more driven and forward in taking the initiative but women outscore them in these two areas!
It’s not just in the big businesses that women are thriving. Driving for growth is also one of the characteristics of women who own small businesses, the Hartford small business report shows. The 2013 study showed that when it came to small businesses, women displayed more desire for growth than men owning similar sized businesses.There’s also increased optimism in women owners who operate small businesses, the study adds.
As the future for women-owned businesses seems bright, one thing is clear: In a tough business environment, women are no less and the numbers are out there for all to see. Can women handle business better than men? I think you know the answer!
About the Author: Elvis Donnelly is a father of two who works from home. He is a voracious reader and like to keep abreast of current affairs on personal finance, technology and innovation. In his spare time, he loves taking on home improvement projects and considers himself a closet chef.
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I have a confession to make: I love coming into a new organization and a new team and knowing that I am not the smartest person in the room. It’s the best feeling. It makes me want to do a happy dance and can’t wait to get to work in the morning.
Sure, it can be pretty sweet to always be the best on your team. Everyone comes to you with questions, your manager trusts you, and you always lead the team in performance. But what is good for your ego is not necessarily good for your career.
When you are the best person on your team you’ve hit the ceiling. You’ve done all that can be done, you’ve mastered the role, and you’ve gotten all the accolades. So what is left to push you forward? What is left to challenge you and make you better than you are today? If you aren’t moving forward, you are standing still while the rest of the world is going by.
To me, it is exciting to know that the people I work with are great at what they do. Just simply being surrounded by competent, creative, and dedicated professionals is thrilling. It means that I have to be my best, I have to push myself, and I have to rise the challenge too because I don’t want to be left behind. It means that I have an opportunity to learn, and that is probably the thing that excites me the most
Even better, especially for all us Women of HR, is seeing strong and intelligent women in leadership roles that we can look up to. You don’t have to aspire to leadership yourself to appreciate how awesome that is. I know a lot of brilliant women in leadership roles who everyday inspire me to simply be better than I am. And needless to say, the more amazing women we have leading not only HR but companies in general, the more positive change and equality all women in the workforce will see.
So the next time you start thinking how great it is to be the big fish, maybe start looking for a bigger pond to play in. Just be sure to start any new opportunity with an open mind, open ears, and a little humility. Even your ego will thank you for it later.
About the author: Shauna is an HR professional with a diverse work history, a Master’s degree, and a PHR certification. She is also a huge geek, social media advocate, and infectious giggler. Besides being a co-founder of the Women of HR she also serves as the current Ringmistress of the Carnival of HR, is the former co-host of the HR Happy Hour blogtalk radio show, and blogs at her own site as the HR Minion.
Women in leadership positions have been a hot topic on the global news circuit. In the US, tongues are wagging about whether Hillary still plans to become one of the most powerful people in the world , while in the UK, the government target of 25% female representation on boards by 2015 will likely be smashed since it’s shot up to 20% for the first time ever.
Yet despite the positive changes, a recent report released on Catalyst.org says that female representation on boards in North America has stagnated in the past few years. While women represented 47.3% of the 2011 workforce in Canada, they only made up 22.9% of senior management position s by 2012.
All the data suggests that the playing field is not even quite yet. So how have the women at the top of the global HR and business community climbed the career ladder to the top rung, and how can you do the same? Changeboard turned to seven senior business and HR professionals to get their advice on the problems they’ve faced, and how they’ve overcome them.
Carolyn McCall, CEO of easyjet, on balancing work and home life:
“You can’t be managing director or CEO of a company and not stay completely involved in the business, but it’s about finding a way of making it work. An important ingredient for me was having the right balance between my personal life and career.
It’s now time for women to keep their head above the parapet. Write a letter to your line manager or HR outlining the flexibility you require and present your business case. You may be surprised to find that you’re pushing at an open door.”
Kate Chapman, group HR director, PageGroup, on developing your own leadership style:
“I’m the same person I was when I started work, and have stayed true to my core values. I’ve got many great experiences to draw on and plenty of people I can reach out to.”
Leigh Lafever-Ayer, HR director of Enterprise Rent-a-Car, on the importance of mentoring:
“Look for mentors in and out of your organization. They can help you develop your skills and knowledge. Studies show that, despite having proven their talent, lots of women lack confidence in their abilities. A mentor can boost your confidence and could encourage you to go for jobs that you would otherwise pass over. Networking is equally as important. Introducing yourself to a wider community can lead you to untapped opportunities.
In my position, one of the areas of special focus is helping women to grasp the opportunity that is there. Many women readily admit that they are more cautious about putting themselves forward for a role than men. Even when their balanced scorecard is demonstrating ability, they may hesitate and wonder if they really are ready. Our mentoring, networking and development programmes are designed to help women overcome these hurdles.”
Fareda Abdullah, VP, human capital and corporate communications, Majid Al Futtaim Ventures, on what it takes to grow in business:
“I do not accept the common misconception that women have no career ambitions. It’s important to be focused and not give up. You must adapt according to your circumstances.”
Jane Bilcock, executive VP & chief HR officer, Pinstripe & Ochre House, on the key to success:
Do something you feel passionate about. Life’s too short to do something that doesn’t excite you.
Ceri-Anne Connelly, HR director, group functions, Aviva, on the value of hard work:
“Roll up your sleeves and get ‘into the work.’ I wouldn’t ask my team to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself. Sitting with employees on the front line is the best possible way of understanding the need for change and defining the most successful people strategy.”
Jeannie Edwards, director of HR, Europe Africa, MWH Global, on being authentic in business for success:
“Don’t try to be anything other than yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t try to fit into a mould. The most successful women I know are comfortable with themselves. The most frustrated are role playing. A very senior woman once told me that I would never be taken seriously if I wore pink. I wear pink a lot, and it doesn’t seem to have done me too much damage.”
About the Author: Katie Richard is the online content editor for Changeboard.com, a global HR careers and content site based in the UK. A Canadian living in London, she’s interested in raising the profile of women in business.
Despite remarkable progress in the workplace and society over the past few decades, women still seem to have more trouble being assertive, overall, than do their male counterparts. For instance, women tend to be more apologetic than men are, even when the situation doesn’t necessarily warrant an apology. Some women seem to be constantly apologizing, and even their nonverbal communication leaves the impression that they are apologizing for taking up space. Some women are so apologetic that, when called on it, they apologize yet again. That’s an extreme example, but the tendency to be overly apologetic is a problem that many women need to correct.
Not convinced? Then here – without apology – are 5 reasons a woman should curb that apology impulse in the office, particularly if she’s in a position of authority or has ambitions in that direction.
1. Being constantly apologetic makes you appear submissive. Continually and unnecessarily apologizing is submissive behavior. Even if you have a subordinate role in the workplace, you don’t have to be submissive. You’re less likely to be taken seriously, either by superiors or subordinates, if you’re continually saying you’re sorry for everything you do or say.
2. Being overly apologetic can erode your self-confidence. This goes hand in hand with number 1 above. Constantly apologizing can not only lessen others’ regard for you, it can also make you doubt yourself and your own capabilities. And if you’re aiming for a position of authority, being too apologetic can sabotage your efforts at advancement, as it reinforces your submissive behavior and thought patterns.
3. Being overly apologetic clouds the real issues. Maybe you apologize to keep peace or to be diplomatic. But there’s such a thing as being too diplomatic, to the point of being dishonest. If you keep letting others get away with boorish behavior and cover it with an apology and a smile, the problems will continue to fester and may blow up in your face someday.
4. Being overly apologetic is ineffective anyway, due to overuse. A recent study showed that because women are more apologetic than men, their apologies are generally less likely to be taken seriously.
Apparently it’s the unexpected apology that makes people sit up and take notice. While the same study indicated that, statistically speaking, an apology from someone in a managerial position is more significant than the gender of the person making the apology, women in general are still taken less seriously, so apologies should only be made when the situation truly calls for one.
5. Apologizing can seem like an admission of guilt or liability. This could be especially important for women in HR, particularly when dealing with an employee’s complaint. Even a well-intentioned expression of empathy can backfire if it seems to be framed as an apology for the company’s wrongdoing.
Nobody is suggesting that women adopt an arrogant attitude and never apologize when an apology is indeed appropriate. Moreover, as many women have discovered, female assertiveness also carries risks. Both male and female employees are more likely to classify a woman as “bossy” when she is even mildly assertive, though they wouldn’t blink an eye at the identical behavior from a man in the exact same situation. Your best bet is to strive to be as reasonable and balanced and fair as possible, keeping in mind that in the workplace it’s generally better to err on the side of assertiveness – even if they do call you “bossy”.
About the Author: This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from people search. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We all know them. The inspiring leaders of our time who make us want to do, say, feel and ultimately, be more than we are today. It’s not just their many successes that catch our interest, in fact, many times it’s just the opposite. Their real-life, relatable traits are what make us stop and realize that just like you and me, they’ve made and will continue to make mistakes, but come back stronger in their wake. The fact is, that these leaders are all imperfectly perfect. They share multiple characteristics that contribute to their success in ways you wouldn’t expect. While developing a few of these may not make you the next Cheryl Sandberg, it can certainly help you find your way to becoming a better leader in the office, at home, or any time you find yourself in a leading role. To give you a better idea of what these characteristics include, we’ve created a list of the five most prevalent we’ve seen in today’s top leaders. Check it out!
Getting to know your team and welcoming, questions, comments and ideas can help you become the leader they’ll remember for a lifetime. Whether this means getting more involved in projects or simply sending an email asking for feedback, letting your team know that you are open to their input is not only a great way to build trust and camaraderie, but also the most beneficial tactic in making sure that your company is achieving the best work from a diversely talented team.
2. Ability to Delegate
Knowing that you can’t possibly be the best at everything and delegating work to team members based on their unique talents and abilities puts you leaps and bounds ahead of the average leader. Once again, get to know your team and determine how and when you can best utilize the strengths of each member to most effectively move the project forward. Throw bias out the window and understand that every hard worker deserves a fair shake at showing you what they can do.
3. Willingness to Learn
Great leaders understand that they can learn anything from anyone. Whether it be the CEO of their company or a child they met at the store, top leaders make the most of every opportunity by listening to what others have to tell them. Rather than shut down the next time you encounter criticism, really listen and take each point into consideration to create opportunity for growth. Also try to pick up on both verbal and non-verbal cues from your team to understand how you can best reach and motivate them.
4. Quick Thinking
The ability to think and act on cue is invaluable as a leader. Your team is looking to you to make decisions quickly and effectively at the moment they’re needed. While making a mistake at some point in your career is inevitable, quick thinking sustains project momentum and keeps your team on track regardless of speed bumps. Don’t get backed up waiting for a complete strategy when time is of the essence. Consider your options, inform your team members, and run with your decision.
5. Effective Communication Skills
Carefully considering your expectations and effectively communicating them to your team will help you achieve the best possible end result. Reminding your employees of your company goals, objectives and standards will help them stay on track and rise to the optimal level of quality. Be sure to relay your expectations in a way that is respectful, effective and consistent. Also try to relate to your individual team members to better understand how they can be motivated and inspired to produce their best work.
About the Author: Taylor Cotterell, Executive VP of NaviTrust Search & Recruitment. Since starting in the recruiting industry in 1998, Cotterell has become uniquely skilled at identifying top performing candidates who are currently employed and not actively looking to move. Cotterell joined the NaviTrust group in 2004 and currently manages a recruitment team, dedicated to local searches. Their focus is on permanent placement, contract, and contract-to-hire roles, mostly in the Utah market. NaviTrust holds a spot as one of the top Utah executive search firms, while also extending to achieve international, reach and recognition.