Last month's Leadership Circle focused on the Tiara Syndrome, ie how women believe rewards come through hard work and keeping your head down. "If I work hard, people will notice and that's how I'll get on my career" is a common belief women have. No, no, no! Women are often overlooked for promotion, for project opportunities and for gaining additional responsibilities. Women have to savvy up and realize that they have to do different things if they are to get noticed in the workplace.
Here are my top 10 tips for how women can get noticed in the workplace.
Tip 1: Speak up in Meetings.
Research by the Virginian Tech institute found that often women do not speak up in meetings if they are surrounded by 'clever' people. Whoever you are surrounded by, you have to have the confidence in yourself and believe that your contribution is worthy and of value to the others around the table. Having the guts to speak out, share your view and introduce a different perspective is one of the small steps you can take to get yourself noticed. Sitting quietly, nodding your head and agreeing with others will just not work.
Tip 2: External Networking
The majority of women dislike networking with a passion and often can not see the value. I would urge anyone who desires to get on in their career to get over it. You have to be known both internally (see below) and externally. External networking means obtaining involved with associations to do with your sector; Volunteer for committees; Finding a mentor in a different organization to your own. The list is endless. Who knows you and what do they know about you is critical. Take one step and find something where you can get involved.
Tip 3: Take on More Responsibility
You may prefer to wait until your year end assessment, or for the magic moment when your boss comes along and requests for your input … A much stronger approach is for you to go and find out – ask your boss what else you can be Doing; Speak to other influencers in the organization about what you could get involved in; Take on projects that will help you and help your work peers.
Tip 4: Shout About It!
If you do not let people know you what you are up to, you will not get noticed. You have to become comfortable with sharing the additional responsibilities you are involved in; The external work you are doing and your achievements. Do not presume people will know. I promise you they will not. Get yourself a journal and keep a record of all the things you are involved in; Your achievements and your highlights. You can drop it into conversation, explain why you are ready for a new role and share with key influencers.
Tip 5: Internal Networking
As well as the external networking, you have to get known internationally. That means seeking people out; Asking their opinion on important projects; Finding out what they are up to and how you could help; Understanding what their landscape is. Once people realize you are interested in helping and knowing what is going on you will get noticed. Find one or two people you could go for a coffee with. Do not waste each other's time though – have a plan of what you want to know / how you can help. It's rare that we get these requests in the workplace and people will certainly appreciate the intent.
Tip 6: Be Confident and Persuasive
Too often I hear women say that they wish they had more confidence; They wish they could get others to hear and take on their point of view. Confidence can be built with having more skills in your tool-kit. I'm a huge fan of using influencing and assertiveness strategies and frameworks to help women boost their confidence. Consider your range of influencing approaches when wanting to win over others. How do you approach others and how could you flex your style more?
Tip 7: Stand up to Bullies and Aggressive Managers
Another way to get noticed in the workplace is to stand up to bullies and aggressive managers. Conflict avoidance is a common trap women fall into – for fear of not being liked, respected and the emotional upheaval conflict can often cause. Again I'll encourage you to consider your conflict toolkit – do you face conflict head on? Do you bury your head in the sand? Do you seek win win? Do you plan and think about different approaches? If this is something you dislike doing, then create a personal development plan just on this topic to improve your strengths.
Tip 8: Appreciate Others
I was working with a large organization the other week where a group of senior leaders were complaining about the amount of workload they had on. They had finished a huge project and had worked very long hours. They'd received a thank you and a well done. No celebration, no gifts, no thank you cards, no meals. They were straight away onto the next project. The power of appreciating others is absolutely huge. Whether that's thanking a specific team member, a peer, your boss or even a senior leader will go a long way towards getting noticed. Think about one person every day you can thank.
Tip 9: Being Mindful of Your Body Language, Your Voice Tone and Your Language
Because most women have a tendency to keep their heads down to get noticed, they do not tend to pay enough notice to their body language. Our non-verbal communication accounts for 93% of the impact we have on others. Be very aware of how you walk into a meeting, the office, how you work at your laptop, your tone of voice when speaking on the phone, your eye contact, your smile. All of this is being read by others. They'll be thinking: "What mood is she in today?" If you've never been videoed – do it! It's one of the best ways to see how you are coming across to others.
Tip 10: Get Yourself a Coach
Of course I'm going to leave the best one to last! A coach will help you to create a clear pathway through the weeds and jungle of your mind. A coach will put you on the right track, will challenge you, give you the feedback and support you every step of the way. A coach can create a personal development plan with you – identifying the specific actions, the support you are going to need and to keep you accountable along the way. If you've not already got a coach, go get one!