As part of Women’s History Month, I want to celebrate the progress we’ve made, while acknowledging we have not achieved equity yet. This month, I’ll be sharing stories of the challenges women face in the workplace. Check out Challenge #1, Challenge #2, and Challenge #3.

 

Women’s Workplace Challenges: Challenge #4: Sporadic Sponsorship

I worked at one company where they offered a year-long leadership development course that was intended for high potential people ready to move to the next level. It was not only an honor to be part of the training, it was also the fast track that made you more likely to be promoted sooner.

Or so I hear. I can’t say for sure since I wasn’t ever selected for it.

You see, there were limits on how many people could be a part of the program. So for multiple years, my name was on the short list, but never in the top spot.

When I asked why not, I was told I didn’t “need” as much training as some of the others on the list. On the face, it was a compliment. I was growing my leadership skills on my own without a fancy class. 

However, it was one of many ways that women like myself struggle when they hit middle management. 

I didn’t have the implicit and explicit endorsement of senior leadership that comes from being selected for an emerging leader group. And without that endorsement, there wasn’t a lot of room for growth, since the first place they looked for new manager candidates was the leadership development class. 

Sure seems like I DID need it.   

I ended up leaving so I could try to win over a new group of people in the hopes of finally receiving that endorsement to get to a senior leadership role someday. 

My clients share lots of similar stories with me on not having support at a high enough level to continue to progress in their careers. As one who has been there, I can assure you, the view from the plateau is not great!

If you want to be part of the solution, consider how you can use the various leadership development programs and opportunities as means to support and sponsor more women.

 

Image by me.

As part of Women’s History Month, I want to celebrate the progress we’ve made, while acknowledging we have not achieved equity yet. This month, I’m sharing stories of the challenges women face in the workplace. Go back and read Challenge #1 and Challenge #2.

 

Women’s Workplace Challenges: Challenge #3: Unwritten Rules

As a child and young adult, I loved school. And I was good at it. So naturally, when I entered the work world (for which I’d been studying and preparing for roughly 20 years), I assumed that it would be a similar path to success.

Wow was I wrong!

The behaviors that are valued in school like doing the work, knowing all the facts, and getting the right answer are not the behaviors that are valued in our modern workplace. In fact, some of the many skills you need to be successful include prioritizing work (aka not doing all of it), delegating, knowing who to contact to find out more information, and being open to the fact that there are lots of right answers and that the current direction you’re heading can change overnight. 

I wish I had known this sooner in my career. It would have saved me lots of time and challenges! 

When you’re successful in school, you make the assumption that you need to keep leveraging the same skillset to stay successful. And that’s simply not the case.

I talk with lots of clients who lament the fact that they work really hard and it seems like no one notices. Or that they stayed up late making sure they knew everything about the topic they were presenting on, only to have no one ask a question or need to dive deeper. 

If this sounds like you, I want to share that the rules are NOT the same. One of the most important things you can do in any organization is to find out what the unwritten rules are because they’re different from school and from the last place you worked.

If you want to be part of the solution, make sure you’re setting clear expectations with your team on what behaviors are needed to be promoted.

 

Image by me.

As part of Women’s History Month, I want to celebrate the progress we’ve made, while acknowledging we have not achieved equity yet. This month, I’ll be sharing stories of the challenges women face in the workplace. Want more? See Challenge #1 here.

 

Challenge #2: The Burden of Proof

“Oh yeah? Prove it!”

This is the implied question that women face, often on a daily basis in the workplace. 

Our skills and experience are called into question regularly. People want to see one more thing from us before they can be absolutely sure we deserve the promotion. There are often lateral moves required to demonstrate our success last time wasn’t a fluke. We see our male counterparts rise to the next (and next) level of leadership while we are told we’re not quite ready. 

My clients tell me all the time about being deemed not “enough” of something.  Not technical enough. Don’t know the business well enough. You haven’t been here long enough yet. 

And sometimes it’s a more subtle questioning of your qualifications.

The below are actual things past co-workers have said to me.

Co-worker: “I know some of the other people that applied for the job. How’d YOU get it?” Me: My hypothesis (based on what the hiring manager told me) is that I was the most qualified candidate and they were excited to have me join the team. 

Co-worker: “Wow, that’s actually a good idea!” Me: You don’t need to sound so completely surprised that I might have a good idea every once in a while. Sidebar: I do wish I had a nickel for every time I heard this one. Now THAT would actually be a good idea! 

Co-worker: “I had no idea you could do this.” Me: Really? Because the basic requirement of the job included having this skill set. How would I have managed to get the job without some level of capability? 

Being asked to prove it, both explicitly and implicitly, is exhausting. It’s also one of the reasons many women choose to leave male-dominated industries like technology. 

If you want to be part of the solution, find one person you can advocate for at work this week so they don’t have to “prove it” one more time. Ask what would be most helpful to them in telling their career story.

 

Image by me.

As part of Women’s History Month, I want to celebrate the progress we’ve made, while acknowledging we have not achieved equity yet. This month, I’ll be sharing stories of the challenges women face in the workplace.

 

Challenge #1: Being heard. 

I once worked on a team with a parrot. 

Well, it was a male colleague, but he had a very bad habit of parroting everything I said. In meetings, he repeated my ideas, my comments, even my jokes. 

You know the worst part? Everyone else in the group seemed to only hear him say it. Never me. It was frustrating and annoying and disrespectful. 

And my experience is incredibly common. 

Many of my women friends, co-workers, and clients have experienced this exact same phenomenon. In fact, repeating and amplifying was even required by women working in the White House to ensure they were being heard in discussions. 

Some of the other ways that women aren’t fully heard include being interrupted, being dismissed, or being labeled as too “something” (shrill, emotional, etc.). 

For my parrot problem, the strategy I used was to feed him lines that I knew the group would be more receptive to hearing from him. This worked reasonably well, but it took lots of extra effort and energy on my part to plan out in advance. 

I would have preferred to simply say what was on my mind and know that the group was going to hear me and acknowledge it as part of our discussion.

If you want to be part of the solution, what can you do? Take some time to check in with everyone on your team to see if they feel heard. And if they don’t, commit to take action to change it. 

 

Image by me.

Drop of water with impact rippling out

I made the deliberate choice to leave my leadership role in the corporate world to start my own coaching business. I love coaching and developing others! Interestingly, one of the compliments I got regularly from my co-workers in corporate was what a good accountability partner I was. I’m wired to help people make the changes in their work and lives that matter most to them.

I also have a wealth of experience around navigating the corporate ladder and what it takes to get where you want to go. I’ve been stuck on a career plateau where I was working super hard to get to the next level but couldn’t seem to break through. I learned what to do and what not to do. And now I help others avoid those pitfalls.

It’s a part of my story, but it isn’t the whole story. The choice to leave corporate absolutely changed my trajectory, but not necessarily in the ways I expected when it first happened. And that’s ok. Sometimes, there are way better things out there than what we can dream up for ourselves. It’s true for me, and it’s been true for most of my clients.

When I started, I knew I wanted to impact people’s lives for the better, to help people solve problems they couldn’t solve on their own, and to turn unintentional careers into authentic works of art. I never could have guessed that as part of my impact, I’d write 4 books, speak at large conferences nationwide, or guest lecture at a top university. And I’m just getting started! 🙂 

My impact has expanded as I keep creating new opportunities for myself and saying yes to opportunities that cross my path. Playing small at work or in life will shrink your impact. Stepping into your leadership and going for what you really want will expand it.

I want to encourage all of you to stand in your leadership and claim your authentic voice. And when you do, also be open to the fact that it might take you down a completely different path than you were planning.

One of my clients sent me this message: “I am forever grateful for working with you!!! Know that you are changing lives for the better every day!!!”

If that’s not impact, I don’t know what is.

#PositiveAction Take a few minutes to assess the impact that you’re having. Does it align with your vision? What changes do you need to make?

 

Image by rony michaud from  Pixabay

Kids pretending to talk on a banana like a phone

This is part two of a 3-part series where we get real about what people most want from their work: money, meaning, and impact.

What is meaning? Merriam-Webster defines it as: significant quality especially implication of a hidden or special significance

Is meaning this big, grandiose, mystical thing that I eventually find or discover? Or is it right here in front of me and I am overthinking it like I do most things? Sidebar: if overthinker describes you or anyone else in your life, you’ll love this book !

It’s been my experience that meaning comes from living a life in alignment with my values. Meaning comes from doing stuff I care about with people I care about. Meaning comes from choosing to be a decent human when I can and encouraging others to do the same. As one of my former managers liked to say, “This ain’t rocket surgery.”

For me, there is meaning in the little things. Like talking on bananas like they’re phones at breakfast with my kids. Or wearing a funny t-shirt or socks that make me smile. Or greeting a stranger at the grocery store and chatting for a few minutes.

Maybe those things don’t seem meaningful to you, but they are to me. Quality time with my family and friends. Remembering not to take life or myself too seriously. Extending kindness to another human because we all need more of it.

It’s the special significance in each day that makes life meaningful. I could just as easily bury my face in my phone and check emails at breakfast, but why in the world would I give up a chance to talk on a banana phone?

So what about at work? Does my work have meaning?

Yes. I love teaching, coaching, and helping others get unstuck. I love sharing my enthusiasm and inspiring others to take positive action. I am using my strengths in service of others daily, and more importantly, it helps them get where they want to go. I transform careers so others can work authentically and experience joy on the regular.

The meaning I get from work is the same as the meaning I find in life: quality relationships and laughter and kindness.

We don’t accident into one giant meaning-filled existence. We intentionally choose to create it one tiny piece of special significance at a time.

#PositiveAction Not everyone has meaning in their work today, so please don’t feel like a failure if that’s you. Instead, I want to encourage you to think about what is the smallest thing you could change to create a small piece of meaning. And then add on another one. And another.

 

Want to dive deeper? Here’s a few of my recommended books on meaning (affiliate links):

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

The Art of Living by Epictetus (Sharon Lebell translation)

 

Photo by me, banana phone conversation not included.

Money Growing

This is part one of a 3-part series where we get real about what people most want from their work: money, meaning, and impact.

Most of us don’t want more money just to HAVE more money. We want to DO something with it. Buying a house, investing, getting the couch of your dreams, shopping local, helping a friend or family member, giving generously to a cause you care about. Those are the things we do with money.

And it’s a whole lot easier to do those things when we have more of it!

We go to work to get money in exchange for our time and expertise, but we use that money at home and out in the community, as well as in the broader global economy.

And even though money is a primary driver in us going to work (along with meaning and impact), we rarely talk about it in productive ways. Entire libraries of books have been written on money, how to manage it, how to use it, how to create more of it, how to change your thoughts and behaviors around it. The list goes on.

The place you work isn’t giving you money because they are generous. They are giving you money because you create value for them.

But if we try to talk about money (and most women don’t when it comes to negotiating or asking for more) we’re focused on the wrong part. We’re thinking about the money. NOT the value. So the conversation doesn’t go the way we’d hoped.

Instead, when you approach the conversation from a place a value it shifts the focus to what the organization is getting, rather than what they are giving. When you frame it from a value perspective, it’s a lot easier to see why you’re worth so much.

#PositiveAction Start or add on to a list of all the value you create for your workplace. You’ll be ready for the next conversation you have on money.

 

 

 

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

Ally Bubb at World Cleanup Day 2020

You know I talk regularly about strengths and leaning into your passions. Those are two keys to a fulfilling career. So today I’d like to talk about something else entirely.

In addition to participating in cleanups in spring and fall (like World Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 18), I regularly pick up trash on my walks through my neighborhood… and in parking lots, while crossing streets… pretty much everywhere, really. 

Is picking up trash one of my strengths? No way! I’m not great at it. I’d say I’m average at best.

Is garbage something I’m passionate about? Not really. I don’t like it and would prefer if it was reduced in amount and then that amount was stored in appropriate ways. That said, I don’t wake up thinking about garbage or go to sleep dreaming about garbage.

Trash cleanup doesn’t use my strengths and it isn’t something I’m passionate about (who dreams of trash, really!). So why would I do it? Because it brings me joy.

I love seeing a place that was covered in garbage magically transformed to clean. It makes my heart feel full knowing that plants, and animals, and people are all safer because of a little time spent. It makes me feel relieved to know that instead of getting paralyzed worrying about all the bad in the world, I can at any moment choose to reach down, grab a piece of trash, and do a tiny bit of good.

Let’s not forget to do the things that bring us joy. They’re often the first items canceled on our calendars, when they should actually be the first thing we schedule each week. And if picking up trash falls into the joy category for you, head outside and grab a little or a lot!

#PositiveAction Schedule at least 1 thing that brings you joy in the next week!

If you’re moving to a lifestyle that is less throwaway and more reusable, I highly recommend the quarterly subscription boxes from Life Without Plastic. It’s a great way to ease into sustainable products!

Photo by me, World Cleanup Day 2020

 

 

Lots of clocks

We think of the perfect solution to a problem we’re facing. Maybe a wonderful opportunity presents itself to us. A person offers to help us out with something… but we say no because it’s “bad timing”. Sound familiar?

It should. We’re all guilty of using timing as an excuse not to move forward. Before we take action we want conditions to be just right. We want to feel ready. We want the timing to be perfect.

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as perfect timing.

I’m having some home improvements done at my house right now. Like any improvement project, it’s loud, disruptive, and requires a lot of time and energy to ensure it goes smoothly. And we’re doing this while my kids are virtual learning from home. And my spouse is working from home. And I’m running a business from home.

There is nothing perfect about the timing. It’s simply the only time we’ve been able to get this to happen over the course of the past year.

Sure, we could postpone the project further. But we also know that the project is exactly what we need to solve a few big challenges we’ve been facing. Rather than wait for perfect timing, we’ve decided to move forward. Waiting longer only prolongs the pain and extends the time we deal with those same challenges.

Deferring the work doesn’t create perfect timing. It only creates an excuse for us to not do what would be most helpful to us.

I want to encourage anyone right now that’s been holding off on making a career change because it’s bad timing because here’s the secret. It’s never going to be perfect timing. It won’t ever be ideal conditions. But starting now, imperfect timing and all, WILL help you get where you want to go sooner than if you wait.

Waiting for perfect timing only guarantees you’ll be waiting for a really long time.

#PositiveAction Start something you’ve been putting off doing because it’s been “bad timing”!

Looking to learn more? Check out When by Daniel Pink (affiliate link).

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

 

As a lover of tidying and organizing, spring is a fun time to do some cleaning. I love swapping out heavy comforters for lighter quilts, washing and putting away the winter clothes and getting out the raincoats. Ushering in spring with cleaning helps to move beyond the cold winter season and celebrate the warmer weather.

Of course, clothes and quilts aren’t the only way to do spring cleaning. Sometimes there are behaviors that are no longer serving us. We can do spring cleaning on those behaviors too!

Most of us have an easy time identifying bad behaviors that we’d like to improve upon (this is what New Year’s resolutions are all about!). It can be much more difficult to identify good behaviors that used to be helpful to you but are no longer helping you get where you want to go.

Maybe at work you’re known as the person who can get stuff done. It doesn’t matter what kind of stuff, you just get it done. People count on you. It’s your reputation (aka personal brand). That’s great! Unless what you most want to do now is lead people. You need to be known for motivating others to get stuff done, not doing the stuff yourself.

We all have behaviors that have been helpful to us and others over the years, but we need to be mindful to put our time and energy into behaviors that help us move forward toward our version of success.

Regardless of how you feel about cleaning in general (but how can you not love it?!?), doing a spring cleaning to make sure your behaviors support where you want to go is the best way to start seeing progress!

#PositiveAction What behavior do you need to let go of so you have more time to dedicate to a behavior that is more aligned with your future?

If you love tidying and work, then you’ll enjoy Joy At Work, the latest from Marie Kondo.

 

Image by klimkin from Pixabay