As women, it can be hard to “toot our own horns” and own up to our strengths. But it’s so important to know your worth and to be able to speak to it! We’re reading the following four tips on self-promotion, from forbeswoman.com.
Want to make a woman feel uncomfortable? Just ask about her strengths. It’s no stereotype: Studies show that women are notoriously bad at promoting themselves.
One study, from employee search firm ISR, attributes this trait to the high value women place on relationships and communities. Women don’t speak about their strengths; the reasoning goes, because they don’t want to alienate people who are less successful.
Whatever its cause, this hesitance to self-promote hurts women’s careers. In today’s competitive world the people most vocal about their accomplishments are the ones most likely to get ahead. And by downplaying their accomplishments and deflecting praise onto others, women act like their own worst enemies.
As a marketing consultant for women business owners, I see this behavior all the time. I’ve also heard countless excuses for why women avoid self-promotion. These excuses tend to fall into one of four categories, which I’ve dubbed the four myths of self-promotion:
The Assertive Woman Myth-”Self-promotion will make me look arrogant.”
Not all self-promotion is shameless. Sometimes it’s essential to a successful career, whether that means reminding a boss of your achievements or publicizing the 10th anniversary of your business. But many women have trouble making the distinction between shameless bragging and smart marketing.
The Queen Myth-”If I’m good enough, people will hear about it.”
This myth originates from fairy tales where the princess waits for her knight to arrive and sweep her off her feet. Generations of girls have heard this story. Many grow up believing it’s true. If you work hard and wait patiently enough, someone will eventually notice.
Unfortunately, this only applies to fairy tales. In the corporate world most people are juggling too many responsibilities to notice what others are doing well. This goes double for people with the authority to give promotions and pay raises. For business owners, simply waiting for the right customers to appear is a recipe for failure.
The world is too full of competition for businesses to stay solvent without good promotion.
The Friends and Family Myth-”Others should talk about my accomplishments, not me.”
Some women assume that their friends, family and other customers will do their marketing for them by spreading positive word of mouth. While word of mouth is a great form of promotion, relying on word of mouth alone can hurt your chances of success.
Let’s face it–no one is more passionate about your work than you. No one else knows the depth of your experience and expertise. And no one can elaborate on your unique skills as convincingly as you can. By delegating promotion to others, you’re taking away your best opportunity to demonstrate your value.
The Martyr Myth-”You can’t control what people think anyway.”
When self-promotion makes you feel uncomfortable, it can be tempting to take a “why bother?” attitude. After all, people form their first impressions before you even say a word, so there’s no sense trying to change their minds … right? Wrong!
The Bottom Line
The myths you believe often mask a deeper insecurity about the value you place on what you have to offer. If you don’t fully believe in yourself, you’ll naturally resist stepping into the spotlight. This resistance, plus generations of conditioning to be humble and stand on the sidelines, has left many women unprepared for today’s ultra-competitive business world.
That doesn’t mean you have to play the role of a pushy saleswoman to get ahead. But it does require taking small steps outside your comfort zone. Get familiar with your strong points. Write them down if necessary and put them somewhere you’ll see them often. (Practice talking yourself up in front of friends: They’ll give you honest feedback about what works and what doesn’t.)
Most importantly, tap into your passion for what you do. By denying your passion a voice, you keep the world from benefiting from what you have to offer. And that’s the most shameful thing of all. Reprinted from ForbesWoman.com
While the recession flooded the market with available talent, the talent pool is once again starting to gain the upper hand in the job market. As the recession subsides, businesses that want to remain competitive will shift their focus from cost-cutting to employee retention. The trick is knowing exactly the right time to shift: companies that shift too soon will lose money, while companies that shift too late will lose talent.
Organizations that have cut staff and asked their remaining employees to pick up the slack may find themselves eventually losing good employees to burnout and the lure of greener pastures. Although it’s tempting to think the Great Recession unveiled some new economic model in which one person can effectively do the job of two, the reality is this model is not sustainable in a positive economy. Just as a runner can only sprint for so long, an employee can only burn the candle at both ends for so many months before he starts thinking about moving on.
Even despite tough economic times, the younger generations in particular still expect to achieve a balance between their LIFE and WORK, and organizations who rely on Generation X-ers and Millennials must meet these expectations in order to retain them. Beginning this year, there are more Millennials (born 1981-2000) alive than Baby Boomers (born 1944-1960). Over the next two decades, U.S. companies will lose 76 million Boomers to retirement, leaving 30 million jobs unfilled. The good news is, structuring programs that create the work-life balance so craved by Xers and Millennials does not necessarily mean businesses must put up with employees who are willing to work less. It simply means making a few minor adjustments to the traditional 9-5 paradigm, or maybe even implementing innovative mentoring and training programs, many of which are free.
Providing flexible work hours and accommodating people’s need to be in certain other places at certain other times is one of the most powerful ways to Attract and Retain top talent. A 2008 poll of 1500 technology workers conducted by Dice Holdings, Inc. revealed that 37 percent of workers would accept a salary cut if allowed to work from home. Accordingly, organizations may find they can save money and attract top talent for less by simply offering the ability to telecommute. This is a model that works even on a large scale—no less than 70 percent of Cisco Systems’ workforce currently telecommutes. Recent technological advances make remote management easier than ever before. It’s not difficult to monitor employees’ online presence, and VoIP phone systems will re-route calls to a direct office line through to any cell or home telephone. In this way, workers can be anywhere and still be available in the office.
Telecommuting programs are not the only way to motivate and retain talent. In addition to their desire for LIFE-WORK balance, Millennials tend to be highly motivated and ambitious. They want to work in positions where they have the opportunity to do meaningful work, to make a difference, to learn, and to advance their careers. Assigning projects that give Millennials the chance to work with senior management and share the spotlight keeps them excited about their job, which in turn motivates them to stay longer.
Adding this type of mentoring program is a cost effective solution to motivate and retain the best millennial talent, and it also has the added bonus of facilitating knowledge-transfer from soon-to-be-retiring workers to the up and coming leaders of the organization.
The workplace dynamic is changing. Businesses who successfully ride the crest of change will recruit and keep the best employees and maintain a competitive advantage in the market.
Susan was doing well in her job. She had an eight-hour workday, great friends, a supportive family, good health, and she was paid well. Everyone around her thought she was happy and lived an ideal life.
Susan was well-compensated and appeared to have time to balance her career and personal life. But she was struggling.
But Susan’s life was actually a mess. Her overly aggressive boss thought nothing of shouting at her in front of her colleagues. Though Susan was a good performer, she was constantly anxious about the next time her supervisor would berate her. Though she was expected to work eight-hour days, her boss would call her at any time of the day or night.
Susan began to dread hearing her cellphone ring and was so worried all the time that she couldn’t even sleep. She fretted that her colleagues and friends would lose respect for her, and she lost so much confidence that she couldn’t handle even the simplest of social interactions. Susana began to spend less time with her friends and family, where she would have to put up a brave face, and instead devoted more hours to work, where she could worry freely, obsessing over every detail of her job to the point of compulsiveness.
By most traditional measures of work-life balance, Susan was doing quite well. She was well compensated for an eight-hour workday, and she appeared to have enough free time to balance her career and personal life. But in reality, Susana was struggling. What’s more, her frustrations would not be picked up by conventional measures of wellbeing, because those measures don’t take into account the quality of people’s experiences, nor do they incorporate people’s own evaluations of their lives. Instead, those measures rely on factors like income and number of hours worked, under the assumption that these factors determine the quality of people’s lives.
Beyond work-life balance
When the idea of work-life balance was first introduced, it was a revolutionary concept. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Industrial Revolution and its resulting shift to manufacturing work made it possible for employers to require workers to labor longer hours than ever before in human history. In some industries, people toiled 14 to 16 hours a day, six to seven days a week.
As researchers began to study the impact that these long hours had on stress levels, health, and family life, the idea of work-life balance gained currency, and many countries began to legislate limits to the workweek. Most developed nations now mandate 40-46 working hours per week, with a minimum of two weeks per year of holiday/vacation.
The concept of work-life balance has been instrumental in influencing these changes and bringing about an improvement in the quality of life that is assumed to accompany shorter working hours. But the concept is useful only up to a point. Globalization has undermined the relevance of reducing worker hours to achieve work-life balance and has revealed limitations; the most significant is that at some point, limiting hours further is just not sustainable.
France has mandated a 35-hour workweek, for example. But what can the country do next? The workweek can’t be reduced indefinitely, as this has implications for a country’s economic viability and competitiveness. In a globalized world, if workers in one country are unwilling to work for economically viable hours, then businesses will migrate to a country where they are willing to do so. In countries such as India and Pakistan, workers are motivated to work 10- to 12-hour workdays — and this is unlikely to change soon due to the large number of workers willing to do so to move up the economic ladder.
Another problem with the concept of work-life balance is that it takes the number of working hours into account but not the quality of the working experience. A person may spend 35 hours a week at work, but if that worker, like Susan, has an abrasive manager or is in a highly stressful job or one that is not suited to her natural talents, then those manageable work hours are unlikely to enhance her quality of life. Conversely, a person may choose to work long hours because it allows her to progress in her career or to build a social system at work.
Thus, the assumption that reduced hours at work lead to an improvement in personal life is too narrow, and probably faulty. Other factors, such as social support, health, safety, and job fit, contribute greatly to the quality of a person’s life. Since the concept of work-life balance doesn’t take into account these significant factors, it does not provide direction as to how people can actually improve the quality of their lives, except for reducing the hours spent at work. As such, it is not actionable.
The assumption that reduced hours at work lead to an improvement in personal life is too narrow, and probably faulty
How we think about and experience our lives
A more comprehensive concept-one that’s more appropriate for the 21st-century economy-is that of wellbeing, which includes factors that contribute to our experiences and our perception of our lives. Until recently, wellbeing has been seen as an esoteric concept that is difficult to define and quantify. It is most commonly understood as relating to wealth or health, perhaps because of the ease with which these things can be measured.
One reason that wellbeing has been difficult to define is that it means different things to different people depending on what they consider important. To one person, it may mean prosperity or wealth; to another, it may mean values or community involvement or the realization of one’s potential. This is why wellbeing should be measured at the individual level, though it may be aggregated for organizations, communities, and nations. And any measure of wellbeing must be broad enough to incorporate an individual’s own choices and purpose in life while being specific enough to be compared and aggregated to facilitate action that can improve it.
Gallup has developed a wellbeing metric that includes the five key elements of wellbeing: Career, Social, Financial, Physical, and Community. These five distinct factors emerged from research that Gallup conducted across countries, languages, and vastly different life situations. Because these elements of wellbeing are universal, they can be measured and reported on for individuals, organizations, cities, countries, and regions around the world.
Because Gallup’s wellbeing assessment measures these elements individually in addition to yielding an overall score, it is actionable: The assessment gives individuals, organizations, cities, and countries the ability to manage wellbeing by undertaking actions to improve it. If an individual has relatively low Social Wellbeing, for example, she would do well to focus her efforts on improving interpersonal relationships with friends and family.
This can be managed over time. As her Social Wellbeing increases, she may choose to concentrate on Career Wellbeing, for instance, or choose to address both elements by spending time socializing with colleagues and making friends at work. In this way, wellbeing can be measured and managed comprehensively at the individual, as well as government, state, city, or corporate levels, by taking its various components and their interactions into account.
Conventional metrics such as employment status, income, educational level, hours worked, and women’s participation in the workforce are necessary to understand an economy, but they are insufficient when it comes to understanding and evaluating overall life satisfaction. Unless we begin to use a metric of a life well-lived — as measured by one’s own experiences and evaluation — people like Susan will continue to be under the radar, aware that something is amiss, but without an idea why or what to do about it.
The Five Essentials of Wellbeing
For many years studies have been done exploring the demands of a life well-lived. More recently, due to the evolving workforce and generational issues there has been an increasing need to understand how to help our employers achieve a well-balanced life. The elements of wellbeing that transcend the global work environment that differentiate a thriving life not a surviving life are as follows:
- Career Wellbeing: how you occupy your time — or simply liking what you do every day
- Social Wellbeing: having strong relationships and love in your life
- Financial Wellbeing: effectively managing your economic life
- Physical Wellbeing: having good health and enough energy to get things done on a daily basis
- Community Wellbeing: the sense of engagement you have with the area where you live
Take a moment and enjoy all the gifts you have and it will reduce your stress and only say “YES” to the activities and life experiences that you know you want to do!
They’re young, smart, brash. They may wear flip flops to the office or listen to IPODs at their desk. They want to work, but they don’t want to work to be their LIFE.
These are Millennials a force of as many as 70 million, and the first wave is just now embarking on their careers — taking their place in an increasingly multigenerational workplace.
Get ready, because this generation — whose members have not yet hit 30 — is different from any that have come before them.
This age group is moving into the labor force during a time of major demographic change, as companies around the USA face an aging workforce. Sixty-year-olds are working beside 20-year-olds. Freshly minted college graduates are overseeing employees old enough to be their parents. And new job entrants are changing careers faster than college students change their majors, creating frustration for employers struggling to retain and recruit talented high-performers.
Unlike the generations that have gone before them, Millennials have been pampered, nurtured and programmed with a slew of activities since they were toddlers, meaning they are both high-performance and high-maintenance, they also believe in their own worth.
Millennials are much less likely to respond to the traditional command-and-control type of management still popular in much of today’s workforce. They’ve grown up questioning their parents, and now they’re questioning their employers. They don’t know how to shut up, which is great, but that’s aggravating to the 50-year-old manager who says, ‘Do it and do it now.’
A great deal is known about Millennials:
They have financial smarts. After witnessing the financial insecurity that beset earlier generations stung by layoffs and the dot-com bust, today’s newest entrants into the workforce are generally savvy when it comes to money and savings. They care about such benefits as 401(k) retirement plans.
Thirty-seven percent of Millennials expect to start saving for retirement before hey reach 25, with 46% of those already working indicating so, according to a September survey by Purchase, N.Y.-based Diversified Investment Advisors. And 49% say retirement benefits are a very important factor in their job choices. Among those eligible, 70% of this generation contributes to their 401(k) plan.
Work-life balance isn’t just a buzz word. Unlike boomers who tend to put a high priority on career, today’s youngest workers are more interested in making their jobs accommodate their family and personal lives. They want jobs with flexibility, telecommuting options and the ability to go part time or leave the workforce temporarily when children are in the picture.
There’s a higher value on self-fulfillment. After 9/11, there is a realization that life is short. You value it more.
Change, change, change. Millennials don’t expect to stay in a job, or even a career, for too long — they’ve seen the scandals that imploded Enron and Arthur Andersen, and they’re skeptical when it comes to such concepts as employee loyalty.
They don’t like to stay too long on any one assignment. This is a generation of multitaskers, and they can juggle e-mail on their IPAD’s while talking on cellphones while working.
And they believe in their own self-worth and value enough that they’re not shy about trying to change the companies they work for. That compares somewhat with Gen X, a generation born from the mid-1960s to the late-1970s, known for its independent thinking, addiction to change and emphasis on family.
They’re like Generation X on steroids. They walk in with high expectations for themselves, their employer, and their boss. If you thought you saw a clash when Generation X came into the workplace that was a fake punch. The workplace changer is due to Millennials.
Conflicts over casual dress
In the workplace, conflict and resentment can arise over a host of issues, even seemingly innocuous subjects such as appearance, as a generation used to casual fare such as flip-flops, tattoos and capri pants finds more traditional attire is required at the office.
But some conflict is inevitable. More than 60% of employers say they are experiencing tension between employees from different generations, according to a survey by Lee Hecht Harrison.
The survey found more than 70% of older employees are dismissive of younger workers’ abilities. And nearly half of employers say that younger employees are dismissive of the abilities of their older co-workers.
Who Are Making the Necessary Changes in today’s Workplace?
Xerox is using the slogan “Express Yourself” as a way to describe its culture to recruits. The hope is that the slogan will appeal to Gen Y’s desire to develop solutions and change. Recruiters also point out the importance of diversity at the company; Millennials are one of the most diverse demographic groups — one out of three is a minority.
“(Gen Y) is very important,” says Joe Hammill, director of talent acquisition. “Xerox and other Fortune-type companies view this emerging workforce as the future of our organization.”
I’d like to thank the kind folks at Social Media Delivered for featuring me as one of their favorite authors!
Here’s what they had to say about my book, Ties to Tattoos: Turning Generational Differences into a Competitive Advantage:
When bringing up a point related directly or indirectly to social media, digital communications, or online communities, one hears more often than thought.. “Facebook’s that thing my grandkids are always on,” or “I’ve heard about this Twitter thing lately, but I’m still not quite sure about what or how should I tweet.” The communications landscape is changing the way we relate to and with different demographics. Read more on socialmediadelivered.com
Save the Date for a Leadership and Learning Lecture: Collaboration vs. Collision-Bridging the Communication Gap Between Generations
On April 12, I’d like to invite you to join me for the Leadership and Learning Lecture series sponsored by Tenet. I’ll be speaking from 1-2 p.m. about generational differences. The title of the speech is “Collaboration vs. Collision: Bridging the Communication Gap Between Generations.”
I hope to see you there!
The Fly Away with the Bridge fundraising gala was a huge success! I would like to thank all of you who attended for helping support a wonderful cause. Because of you, more underprivileged women will have access to life-saving mammograms and and other breast cancer care.
April’s Modern Luxury will contain coverage and pictures of the event. Click here for a sneak peek!
Bruce offers practical strategies for keeping it together in the face of the competing demands of multiple supervisors.
“If you are like most employees, you answer to multiple bosses — some directly, and others indirectly. You are often pulled in different directions by these competing authority figures with competing interests and agendas. All of them have the ability to improve or worsen your daily work conditions, your chances of getting rewards, and your long term career prospects. And all of them are different.
Under these circumstances, you are the only one you can control. You can control your role and conduct in each of these relationships. You can control how you manage and how you get what you need from these relationships.”
You can subscribe to Bruce’s weekly video newsletter for on-the-job tips in an easy to peruse format. Enjoy!
I’m excited to announce that I’ll be speaking on Generational Differences in the Workplace at Raytheon (McKinney location) on March 30, 2011. Feel free to contact me for more information!