In my last post I discussed how women need to compete in the workplace in order to push past the almost invisible barriers that seem to exist. Having a competitive attitude is definitely the first step in winning because it says “I’m here and I’m ready to play”. It puts you at the starting block and gives you an understanding that yes you are in a competition for your job, for your raise, for your promotion, and for the success of your company in the marketplace. Once you have firmly realized this now it is time to get serious.
“Winning is not everything, but wanting to win is.”
– Vince Lombardi
First determine what you are fighting for and why. My partner and I are engaged in an ongoing discussion. I believe that women are going to gain more prominent positions, own more companies, and have active board roles in the next decade or two. He disagrees. Now keep in mind that we are business partners so it is not for his lack of confidence in female abilities. He believes there will be a decline in women in power positions because he thinks men want it more after experiencing heavy unemployment from the recession and will fight harder to get and keep their jobs going forward. This is an interesting theory and time will tell the level of truth to this. However if men take on the attitude of fighting against their female counterparts with purposed intent women need to start viewing their positions as something to fight to keep not just fighting for the promotion or position in the future.
It comes down to the mindset of always knowing you are in a fight for what you want. As a woman I have always been competitive against myself. I would also compete against others but more on a team or company vs company basis then individually. I would assign warm thoughts towards individuals, hoping for their personal success because I enjoy watching people grow. The problem is that mindset deters from the fact that you are indeed competing for what you want and that competition is often against the individuals around you. If you want to win and are serious about doing so I have some tangible suggestions for you:
1) Become educated now: Many people wait until they are laid off to continue their education. That is a mistake. Why not make yourself more valuable right now, where you are? If your company offers services in areas you do not have knowledge then learn more about it. If a specific license would add value to your company then get it. If finishing your degree would give you more prominence in the organization then finish it. Do not wait.
2) Better yourself on your own time: The employee mindset is “I will do X if my employer pays for it, gives me the time to do it and makes it worth my while”. The ownership and management mentality is “I will do X because it increases my skills which adds value to my company and I will gladly do it without taking time away from my current duties”. Remember this is about bettering yourself and making you more valuable. Asking your employer to sacrifice money or time does not increase your value immediately. In the long run improving your skills helps the company but you do not want the process to cause challenges now, that is not the goal.
3) Talk about what you are learning: Let those in positions above you know that you are expanding your skills in certain areas and let them know you are happy to use them to benefit the company. Ask how you can help.
4) Have an ownership mentality: Look around you and observe what is needed in your organization then see how you can add value. I have always appreciated people on my team that have done research on their own, spent time doing additional product training to become experts, and had great ideas for improvements. Their ideas were not always implemented but the fact that they took the time to have them showed me they were capable of more than their current position. They put forth the effort and it was noticed.
5) Stick to business: One of the great distinguishers between upper management, ownership and employees is their mentality toward their personal lives in the workplace. This has become especially obvious in companies where I have had mostly female employees. Women tend to want to become friends with those around them but the office chatter about kids, spouses, friends and personal issues detract from the work place and come across as unprofessional. Trust me that it is obvious what employees keep work about work and who likes to make work personal. If you are looking for advancement professional usually wins.
6) Ask for it: If your goal is to get promoted or take on more responsibility in the organization let management above you know. If the opportunity presents itself do so with your boss’s boss too. Let them know you want to add value to the company and grow within the organization then ask what they want you to do to accomplish this. That conversation will cause them to observe you now and keeping in contact will help your name be top of mind when spots open up.
7) Network within the industry: Making connections now will assist you in your career growth. Cultivate relationships now not just for immediate benefit but how you can assist them and they can assist you in the future.
Stay focused, enjoy what you do, continue to learn and be serious about winning. Do not lose sight of your goals. Distractions and challenges will come your way, this is life after all, but do not let them deter you from your vision.
“Success is almost totally dependent upon drive and persistence. The extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret of winning.” – Denis Waitley