As women, we have the same potential to make a difference in the workplace as men. Our capabilities, our skills, our opportunities have all increased over the years. However, the glass ceiling still holds us back for the most part! While external circumstances and other factors are definitely guilty of holding us back, there are times when we ourselves are the true culprit!
What can women do and develop to advance in their careers outside of developing technical and functional skills? The top 5 career must-have’s for women to develop are:
- Knowing your worth: A common problem with women is that either they are not aware of their worth or they forget about it as they progress through life events. A finance executive who quit her job to take care of her kids and is now looking to reenter the workforce after 5 years, may not necessarily remember all that she can do and offer in terms of skills and talents that she brings to the table. How can I know my worth you ask? This requires self introspection. Reflecting and taking inventory about your skills and talents and things that you’re good at from an all-encompassing perspective are key to understanding your worth.
- Negotiate: Knowing your worth from a self inventory perspective is not enough. You also have to do the necessary market research and understand how much your skill-set qualifies for. Once you know that you need to be able to negotiate boldly and ask for what you are worth. Negotiation is a deep topic by itself. Few quick tips can be found here.
- Emotion control: Women are known to be emotional creatures. In my personal experience I have seen both men and women lose control over their emotions at work. I have been in boardroom meeting where C-level folks have hurled blows of words at each other and walked out in anger fuming. I have seen women get into a tiff at meetings. I have seen folks burst out into tears about personal issues at work. I have even had the ‘good fortune’ of witnessing door slamming at work! While it may be true that both men and women can be emotional in the workplace, we women have to take extra care since the stereo-type of ’emotional’ precedes us. I encourage all women to take special notice about how they’re doing with their emotions at work. Do they display signs of anger, frustration, anxiety, irritation? Does this happen only in-person or does the written communication convey the same? Does their body language convey the irritation over being pulled into a last-minute meeting? The simplest solution to regulating emotions is the technique calledname it to tame it. Dr.Seigel proposed this to help children deal with emotions, but it is equally applicable to adults! It is as simple as recognizing the emotion you’re going through and giving it a name such as ‘I am frustrated right now’ and gain control over that emotion.
- Speak up: It is easy for us women to hide behind the sidelines, to use our kids as excuses to not step up, to doubt ourselves and believe that we are not meant to be play big, to cruise along and not really go after what we want. We do the same thing in our professional life, we play it small, we don’t go after the challenging projects,we don’t speak up in meetings ,we don’t ask for raises, we don’t ask for more training. We need to shut this fear down, raise our self-esteem and shed the facade that we don at times.
- Balance your whole-self at work: During my stint in the corporate world as well as now as a career coach, I have the opportunity to talk to many women. What I’m noticing predominantly is that, women are lacking the balance of exposing/hiding aspects of their life verses sharing just the right amount of information. Some women tend to hide some part of their lives. So for example a single mom juggling child care situations and showing up to work on time, should not necessarily hide that. On the flip side, she should also not necessarily leverage it and use it as an excuse either. We bring our whole selves to work. There is a balance to what aspects to share and how much we should share. Some people go overboard and share too many details of their personal life with their coworkers. Recognize that we are whole human beings when you walk into work and keeping a healthy balance of what your bring into work, is necessary to proceed and progress in your career.
Now it’s your turn! Which of these career must-have’s will you focus on?