The other day I got a phone call from Pauline. She works as the Customer Engagement lead at a large pharma company in New Jersey.
She said, “I’ve been doing very well in all of my roles. Despite this, my company keeps giving me roles in support functions! I want to take on bigger responsibilities, like in line management. But they just won’t give me the opportunity. How much harder do I need to work to prove myself?”
“How much harder do I need to work to prove myself?”
I asked Pauline, “Have you told your company that you want to take on bigger responsibilities?”
She said, “I told my manager about a year ago during my performance reviewBut now I hear that I’m being lined up for yet another support role.”
So I probed further, “What did your manager say about your performance?”
Pauline said “Oh, that he’s happy with my performance. That he trusts me to complete my projects, and to do them well. And that I’m a solid team player!”
I said, “Did you remind him that you wanted more responsibility at work?”
She said “Not really. I mean, I already told him last year. I don’t want to annoy him by bringing it up again and again.”
I said “Look Pauline, to get a job with greater responsibilities, you need to do three things.
- First, you need to show that you have the qualities needed for the bigger jobs. And that’s more than delivering on what’s assigned to you and being liked.
- Second, you need to remind your manager of your ambition over and over so it doesn’t get buried under the zillion other things he’s working on.
- And third, you need to build your network with the people on top. They are the ones who make these promotion decisions.”
She said “That makes a lot of sense. The problem is I’m already buried in work What you’re suggesting will take even more time, and I just don’t have that kind of time.”
I said “I understand. That’s a real challenge for women. You could start by investing only 5 minutes on these 3 things everyday. There are programs like Rekindle that can help you do that. It’s great that you’ve identified the issue to begin with!”
Now I don’t know if Pauline will make these changes to help herself. But my heart goes out to her. She reminds me of myself when I was young and ambitious. Working very hard. Delivering solid results. Careful not to step on people’s toes. Doing everything to be liked. And waiting for the system to work. And when the system didn’t work, I blamed sneaky office politics.
It took me years to learn this truth:
Yes, the system exists. But it doesn’t work by itself. You need to make the system work for you.
The system is not a magic box that has all the answers. It’s made of people. And you need to give those people the information they need to make the right decisions. Get them to notice you. And show them that you can go beyond delivering the basic numbers. Come up with bold ideas, take charge and make a difference!
Sounds daunting? Read on.
Why this is so hard for us women
As women, we’ve been trained to do the opposite since we were little girls. We’ve been trained to think that standing out and taking initiative makes us look aggressive. So we’ve learned to keep a low profile, and do what our bosses tell us to do so they don’t feel threatened. And we think that by doing our work well and pleasing our bosses, we’ll get the opportunities we deserve.
It just doesn’t work like that. Our bosses get promoted thanks to the awesome results we deliver, but we stay stuck.
To get the opportunities we deserve, we need to unlearn these things that hold us back. We need to discover our true potential. And we need to allow ourselves to be our whole selves!
But here’s the thing. Even if we’re inspired to do all of that, we’re likely to read this article, close the tab, and go back to our busy lives. Not because we don’t care enough.
It’s because we’re not sure how to do those things. .
Women struggle to get mentors who can guide us. And because we’re usually part of the “out group” at work, we don’t get the inside scoop on how things actually work.
Plus we’re so busy doing good work and keeping everyone happy, we don’t have time in our lives for ourselves.
What do successful women do?
Successful women learn to put themselves on their priority list. They value and respect themselves. And they invest in developing themselves.
They see how opportunities open up when they are their whole selves at work. They discover what they’re really capable of achieving. And they’re filled with pride for who they are!
You can become that woman who uses her potential to make a difference! All it takes is a commitment to spend five minutes a day just for yourself.
But that just sounds like a fairy tale. So we read the article. Close the tab. And move on with our busy lives. And we waste away all the awesome potential within us that’s waiting to be tapped!
Understand this: working hard and delivering results is essential, but not enough to get ahead in your career.
When you invest in yourself and take small steps to unlearn all the things that are holding you back, a transformation occurs. You will get ahead in your career. You will have healthier relationships. And most importantly, you will love yourself for the person you are.
Wish you the very best!
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