Advancing Women

Advancing Women

New technology allowing increased communication and collaboration encourages better understanding, better planning, and organization and more synchronization between teams and departments. Being in sync eliminates some delays and enables team members to foresee and create alternatives to other possible roadblocks.

Whether it’s a high visibility assignment for your company, a line position which will get you in the running for senior management or a plum post in London — ask for it. Learn to negotiate. To be perceived as powerful, act like a leader. Take charge, take responsibility, come up with a solution. And most important, never stop moving up.

It’s time to make New Year’s Resolutions, not just for your personal life, but for your work as well. Keeping the momentum in your career is vital to your success.

First, take stock of yourself, and see where you are in the food chain of your organization.

If you’re not at, or near the top, it’s time to take immediate remedial action. If you’re already in middle management, decide to take on the toughest hurdle: moving from middle to top management.

You probably will have to work consciously on modifying many of your habits and attitudes. Perhaps the most significant position change will be to give up “the caretaker-of-the-details trap.” The shift from middle manager to top manager is a change from “doing” to “directing” or delegating. A senior manager must focus on big-picture issues. You must learn to develop the successful strategy and efficient management of people. Doing someone else’s job can no longer be one of your options. Tackle the big problems….let anyone pick the ladies’ room wallpaper. Learn to take well thought out risks, since being unremarkable and unnoticed at work won’t get you where you want to go either.

If you seem “stuck” in whatever position you’re in, take an analytical look at your company and its real “woman-friendly” quotient.

Does your company have women in executive offices and on the board of directors? Do female executives earn as much as their male counterparts? If not, you might start looking around at companies where you may find a more “level playing field” and greater opportunities for advancement. Even a lateral move can put the momentum back in your career.

Find the right company with a culture which supports your success.

Businesses that have embraced “family friendly” and diversity-oriented values will have designed an organization with the staffing philosophy and processes and development philosophy and processes to support those values. On a formal basis, managers will provide opportunities for visibility; explain and interpret organizational politics; map out clear developmental goals and help you in achieving them. On an informal basis, management will have credible advocates with positional authority to see that critical person, and women, in particular, are not excluded from informal networks. Lawyers with authority will also assure that women have access to a line position with responsibility so they may qualify for promotion to the next level. Within this framework, you should try to align your career goals with what you see as the opportunities within your company.

Learn to negotiate, to uncover the “hidden agendas and masked perceptions,” to identify your real value, make it visible, and make the negotiation pivot around it.

Almost every day at work, we are faced with some negotiation. Not only must we negotiate for our salary, perks, benefits, title, office space and support staff, but daily issues involving our duties, the need for increased manpower, authority over projects, flexibility with clients, arrangements, communication or sharing of the workload with co-workers; all require a form of negotiation, which, if we fail to recognize, we will, in all probability, fail to win. Beneath the surface of all negotiations are “hidden agendas and masked assumptions,” most of which are unfavorable to women. Women are expected to acquiesce, keep the peace, not make waves, and be the first to make concessions. Women need to learn not to buy into this self-defeating set of expectations.

The only reason someone is negotiating with you is that you have a value which he wants. The more you can make that value visible, and make the negotiation pivot around it, the stronger your position will be. The first negotiation, which will shape much of your future is how much you will earn and what benefits you will receive. Bargain hard and smart. Your work life depends upon it.

To talk is to win.

At every opportunity, step up to the plate, speak up in an authoritative voice and present a message which is clear and communicates your firm belief in it. Whether it’s a high visibility assignment for your company, a line position which will get you in the running for senior management or a plum post in London — ask for it. Don’t hint. Forget indirection and subtlety. If you want a job within the company asks for it. And ask for the authority to do it right.

Get recognized, the not so easy task for women.

Why is it so difficult for women to get known in corporate America? It is one thing to perform efficiently, and it is quite another to be perceived as playing actually. The answer to being viewed as efficient and getting recognized for it does not lie in performance. Research shows women perform as well on the job as men, often better, but people are prone to boasting, and successful men have become experts in self-promotion. To most women, boasting is anathema. A major turning point in most women’s careers comes when they recognize that self-promotion is part of the game of business. Start immediately by weaving your accomplishments into your casual conversations. Absolutely anything can be your cue. Example: “I haven’t been anyplace the air conditioner was turned on so high since the Chamber of Commerce had that special banquet to honor me.”

If you want recognition, you must broadcast your achievements and press for appropriate rewards and advancement. No one else will do it for you. And if you start promoting yourself, you will soon feel comfortable doing it, and equally important, you will begin to realize you deserve it.

Go for the power and never stop moving up.

Power is a valuable currency in today’s workplace. In fact, power is largely in the perception of it. To be perceived as powerful, act like a leader. Take charge, take responsibility, come up with a solution. You don’t need to be president of a corporation or head of a committee. You just need to lead. Do you see a problem crying out for a solution? Develop a project to address it. Projects not only gather people together and marshal their strengths to achieve a defined and mutually beneficial goal, but they also advertise your skills and position you as a leader. Develop reputational power by tackling the critical issues and getting results.

Determine to hone and expand your skills, grow and promote yourself, build relationships and networks, deliver results and be sure to get credit for them. Then, continue to get feedback.

Are your career goals still the same, or have they changed? If they’ve changed, make the necessary adjustments and pursue new opportunities which match your new targets.

Check with the market to be certain you’re getting paid what you’re worth in the market today. Check salary benchmarks in your industry.

As measures of your success, you must….

Have an exceptional skill or expertise at something which delivers real value.
Focus on the practical result of the power you give.
Learn how to be a leader and a supportive team player at the same time.
Be a visionary….. define a goal and make it a reality.
As Thoreau once said:” Keep marching continuously in the direction of your dreams, and one day you will be leading the life you have imagined.”
It will never be sooner than today to start.

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