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Women – 9 Things That’ll Kill Your Promotion

June 14th, 2011 No comments

Women have made many strides in the business world. A hundred years ago, if a woman needed to provide for her family, she had to take menial jobs such as taking in washing, waiting tables, sewing, or found a job in a house of ill repute. As women have taken their place beside men in the business world, many times, they have been at the mercy of men and their thinking. Back then, it was unheard of for a woman to be promoted to the CEO of a company. Today, there aren’t as many women CEOs as there are men in those positions, but things are changing rapidly. But, in many ways, it’s still a man’s world.

For many years, I worked in agricultural sales. This was a field dominated by men. I was told in the beginning I couldn’t succeed because farmers wanted a male salesperson. I found this to be failure thinking. In fact, I found the farming community very open and accepting of me. I enjoyed what I did and I rose very quickly in the company and became the first woman to head their sales department.

I believe, women can do anything they set in their minds to do. Every day, women are crashing through the glass ceiling to success. Many women have opened their own businesses. It has never been this good. Having said that, I find, sometimes, we are our own worst enemy. We can torpedo our success without even knowing it. Here’s a few suggestions on what not to do.

1. Don’t cry at work. This can be a difficult one. I am a very empathic person. I can cry because someone else is crying. There’s no room in the work place for tears. Tears make most men very uncomfortable. They see it as weakness. They feel bullied by tears. Meaning, they can perceive tears as a way to make them feel sorry for the woman or intimidated by them. I don’t believe this is the case, but what they perceive makes it so for them.

2. No baby talk. It’s annoying and should never be used in a business setting. It’s self demeaning and puts the woman in a lower position.

3. Dress appropriately. This means dress like those around you, but with an eye on promotion. If you want to elevate yourself to a leadership position, dress like the leaders do. It gives an unspoken clue to your desire to be promoted. This, also means, don’t dress like someone who wants to show their sexuality, such as lots of cleavage, tight outfits, short skirts. I know fashions has changed, but there isn’t anything wrong with being modest. I’m not suggesting we dress like grandma does, but if we want to be perceived as a woman who can handle herself, don’t bring sexuality into it.

4. Try not to be oversensitive. There will be criticism in the workplace. Don’t take everything personally. Try to see it as a way to improve without allowing it to hurt. It’s very helpful to develop Rhino skin around some of our feelings.

5. Be honest – with diplomacy. Honest comments don’t have to be cutting. Especially, if we’re in a supervisory position. Read up on effective coaching. I know sometimes women can be perceived as being hard when they are just being honest.

7. Stay out of the gossip mill. Listening to office gossip is a is a way to undermine ourselves. It’s best to keep ones feelings and thoughts about others to ourselves. It may appear to be fun until it boomerangs on us.

8. Position yourself to be seen as someone who gets the job done, can help others and doesn’t waste valuable time. Personal matters need to be kept for personal time, such as personal phone calls, making the rounds to talk to everyone, interrupting others business time, hanging out in the break room when it’s not break time, and personal drama. One’s personal drama has no room in the work place.

9. Don’t make mountains out of mole hills. I have worked with some exceptional women. I’ve seen some of them shoot themselves in the foot by being over dramatic and sweating the small stuff. They spend their time majoring in the minors. It’s best not to fall into this trap. Our opinion won’t mean as much if our bosses have to sift what we say through the drama screen.

There’s still a “good ole boys’ club”, but it’s rapidly disappearing. It’s being replaced by people who can see the merits of another person without using gender to categorize others.

By being aware of the things that rob us of our credibility and not falling into the habit of using them, will put us ahead on the corporate ladder, or any ladder we wish to climb.

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