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In 1978, the expert Marilyn Loden coined the term “ glass ceiling” to describe the unequal employment situation that makes it more difficult for women to climb the job market. Forty years later, the term is still in force in an environment in which even having women in managerial or senior management positions implies greater effort.
According to the study “The glass ceiling in Mexico” by UNAM, only three percent of the 500 best companies to work for in the country are run by women and of the list of the most powerful women, only seven are executives of any company . In the United States, it is estimated that 4.8 percent of the CEOs of the top companies of the Standard & Poors rating agency are women.
How can marketing help destroy the glass ceiling? Working the personal brand. Of those times that I miss in bookstores, I went for a gem written by Lois P. Frankel , therapist and professional coach, called “Nice Girls Do not Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers” (The good girls don’t get the corner office: unconscious mistakes women make that sabotage their careers ).
The book, drawn from Frankel’s experience advising female executives in the United States, seeks to detail more than 130 common mistakes that affect their professional growth, while containing many practical tips to overcome these problems. Thinking that among these there should be some that also apply to men, I bought it and I was right.
The author explains at all times that although women do not have a monopoly on these behaviors, there are more cases in them than in men. However, it is a fantastic read for all those who want to grow but have doubts as to whether they are acting properly.
Of the examples shown in the book, all accompanied by advice and practical cases, these are 15 points that caught my attention, as they negatively affect your personal brand.
1. Pretend it’s not a game
The work environment is a game, a competition, not a pink environment where we all live in peace and harmony without hurting each other. You have to seek to rise and grow. If you don’t, others will do it for you. If you trust that everyone arrives with the same cool attitude, you may be overly naive.
Recommendation: Quickly learn the rules of the organization you work for, find a mentor to guide you in the environment and learning to play chess could give you a plus.
2. Doing the work of others
“If I don’t do it, no one is going to do it” is the excuse of many people to do the things that correspond to others. The worst thing is that afterwards they take the measure and you work double. Remember that there are responsibilities for this. If someone does not do their job, it is something that should be communicated.
Recommendation: Do not offer yourself for routine, low-profile jobs that consume time and effort for little recognition, learn to delegate and identify when someone wants you to do their job to get the credit.
3. Work miracles
When we have little time and resources or on occasions where we take on a project where everything is in a mess, we know that our duty is to put some order and sometimes we invest more: we leave late, we work weekends and we put aside personal commitments for ” get the job done ”without knowing that what we really do is raise the bar higher for what is expected of us. After a while, what we considered exceptional because of the workload, such as going to the office on Sundays, will become the norm to maintain our own standards.
Recommendation: Identify the expectations that others have of your work and don’t be afraid to point out when a goal requires more effort than you or your team can handle.
Set achievable goals and request an extension if the workload requires it.
4. Not taking advantage of relationships
We should not be afraid that a family member, friend or acquaintance can help us when we need it, either by introducing ourselves to someone, informing us of job opportunities or as references. Modesty prevents us from showing off our contacts when many times it is they who open the doors or give a better impression of us.
Recommendation: Make a list or diagram of the people who can be key to your business, who can contribute and their order of importance. Remember that a key contact is only valuable if they can contribute, so go ahead and ask them for a favor when you need it.
5. Ask everyone before making a decision
This reflects our inability to make decisions or insecurity in our own judgment. It is one thing to consider the needs of co-workers, our clients or the boss and another is to completely lose the power to decide according to our objectives and experience.
Recommendation: Even if you ask everyone, you will be the one who makes the decisions in the end and assumes the consequences of them, so, regardless of the influence that others must have, take more risks gradually with small decisions and analyze the mechanisms that bind you to request approval from others even if it is not necessary.
6. Ignore the quid pro quo
Every time you do something for others, you expect to receive something else in return, even if not immediately. Doing favors for free only creates an army of ungrateful ones. Whenever you do someone a favor, don’t be afraid to ask for one in the future.
Recommendation: When you do a favor, let the other person notice the effort you put into it, emphasizing that it is not something easy to do and when it comes to asking for a favor, they will have less resistance.
7. Refuse benefits
The same modesty prevents us from accepting benefits that give us any advantage over our co-workers, even when we have earned them: a better office, a promotion, a parking space, that they give us a plant contract (yes, there have been cases ) or an area transfer. Even if it is new furniture or a cubby with a window, it is never wrong to indulge a little.
Recommendation: When the opportunity for higher benefits, a better office, company car or a salary environment presents itself, instead of thinking about not accepting it, ask yourself “why not?”, After all, it often comes with the new responsibilities of the position.
8. Minimize achievements
We say that it is nothing, that there is no problem, that it was not so bad, although it cost us one and half of the other. We can reduce a titanic effort to almost nothing with a simple “it was not much” and with that we demerit our effort and make others perceive it as something easy to do or without importance. It never hurts to cluck the egg and accept praise for a job well done. The same applies to our positions: saying “I am the director of operations for Ford” is very different from saying “I only run the assembly area in an automotive company.”
Recommendation: Identify those words or phrases that you use daily to minimize your work and practice to gradually eliminate them, changing them to neutral terms or those that do not imply qualifying the work, for example “I am satisfied with the results of the project.”
9. Wait until they give you what you want
Yes, many times we wait for the revolution to do us justice and give us what we deserve without even asking for it. This is situations in which the other is expected to intuit or assume what they want when the person in question may not have a clue that something is needed. It is always better to say what we require or need than to trust the good faith of others.
Recommendation: Making yourself known is key, from talking more about your achievements, training, projects, knowledge and interests. When it comes to requesting something, asking for it is not that difficult if others know your credentials, including promotions.
10. Decline big projects or responsibilities
“You just don’t understand, I don’t want to be a manager: I don’t want more responsibilities,” a friend told me who had killed herself for 6 or 7 years in a consulting firm when her boss told her of his intention to promote her. Every time we reject a challenging project that allows us to test our capabilities and demonstrate our performance, we give the idea that we cannot carry responsibilities or functions beyond a certain point, which can be misinterpreted as inefficiency or even mediocrity.
Recommendation: Accept those invitations to grow your career even if you don’t have time, set one aside, as it is an investment in your future. If you are offered a key position and you feel that you lack the knowledge to perform it, take it and learn what is necessary. Everything is a matter of trust.
11. Put work before personal life
There is no grave in the history of mankind whose tombstone says “He gave everything for the interests of the company” so get rid of your head that personal life, family, friends and partner can be put aside when removing the job is about. In time you will be a complete stranger to them if you continue like this. In addition to the fact that one day you will have to see that if you leave a job in which you felt indispensable, the company managed to find someone who can do what you swore that nobody else could do it, even better than you.
Recommendation: You have to balance your time at work with that which you dedicate to life outside of it. Think twice before canceling plans because they asked you for overtime in the office, evaluating the pros and cons. There will be times when it deserves it and others when it doesn’t. Do not cancel plans with your children unless your job itself is at stake, because that time with them will not return.
12. Let others consume your time
Rarely do we take into account the time we lose due to the work and grace of third parties, from the “hey, can I ask you a question?” going through the email war, coffee outings or meetings in which you have no participation or interference. It is time that they take you away to finish your work and even to go out on your time. Take care of him.
Recommendation: Differentiate the occasions in which others need to talk to you from those in which they want to talk to you, assertively saying that at this moment you don’t have time but you would like to discuss that issue later, have an activity schedule to avoid being bothered and even some simple tricks like typing while the distracting person is coming, wearing headphones or making a work call. They do not fail.
13. Letting them make you the scapegoat
In order not to argue or to turn against bosses, there are those who prefer to take the blame for problems that are not even theirs, as in the case of third-party errors or the ineptitude of their own bosses. If you allow it, not only your self-esteem will be diminished, but your confidence in your colleagues, your bosses and the company.
Recommendation: Politely, talk to your boss that you do not want to be the one to blame for the situation, especially if you did not have interference or decision-making power over it. For this you need to find a speech that is friendly and assertive.
14. Tolerate idiots
Yes, I know it is not news that in almost every job there will be one or more people who, voluntarily or involuntarily, do their job poorly and usually make others pay the consequences. It is important to take responsibility for your own work but at all times to show the mistakes that can affect others. If we let them do what they want, we will end up paying for them after a while.
Recommendation: Far from tolerating behaviors that go against the operation of the group, it is recommended to point them out to the relevant people (supervisors, quality control) so that the appropriate measures are taken and the person in question can correct their work scheme.
When I got to this point in the book my jaw dropped: I’ve had cases. For Dr. Frankel, That erodes the respect that other co-workers, bosses or subordinates have and gives the impression of being someone who cannot control their emotions or who cannot handle the workload or stress.
Recommendation: There will be times when it will be impossible to contain some injustice, an argument or the workload. Lois recommends taking a 15-minute break, saying “May I have a moment?” and go to a secluded place to cry, a moment that will also serve to reflect and put ideas in order to give a more assertive response.
Indeed, these points are in most cases unisex (I think the last one not so much) but they have a lot to do with building a personal brand. We do them unconsciously, sometimes out of good will, without realizing that those who do not commit them have an advantage that allows them to go further than the “good people”.
With all my heart I hope this post has served you. The book is available in its English version in bookstores and online stores, as well as in an e-book version.