This week in EVE Voices, Patrycja Riera analyses the mechanisms that prevent working women from growing higher in their career and suggests a few tips to change.
By Patrycja Riera, CEO, Inclusionem
I often work with women that are smart, talented and hardworking and they stay in the same position for a long time. Part of it, because they feel comfortable where they are, they have good and enjoyable relationships, and they are able to use their skills and make impact in some way. However, they often watch colleagues who entered the company at the same time, and somehow were promoted and are climbing the corporate ladder faster, and their salaries and job profiles are higher.
For a lot of these working women, who would actually want to move further and faster, end up finding themselves stuck.
One of the reasons why that might be, is because they might have devoted a bit too much time and energy to doing their job really well, but they’ve actually not taken the steps needed to know what the next level is.
This often happens because we haven’t built good visible connections that we need in order to create visibility for our talents and skills.
Maybe, there has been too many signals that you actually enjoy being where you are, which makes people forget about you when a higher position opens up.
I know I have been there and if you see yourself in this description, you are probably focusing on your job more than you are on your career, which might have a negative effect on your career.
Very often we focus and look at the small piece of a pie in front of us, rather than the big picture, and sacrifice it and the long-term perspective for what’s in front of us today.
It might be that you love your job and you feel it’s a great fit, so you’re reluctant to change. Saying that, being stuck is never a good idea, staying in the same job for too long can undermine your long-term satisfaction and feeling of self-worth and the signal you might be sending to people around you does not demonstrate the eager and ambitious you.
As an executive coach, I have worked with many women around the world and one thing that would often come up in our coaching conversation is the need to do everything perfectly.
There is somehow that myth and social expectation that we need to be doing our job perfectly. This, though, does not guarantee success; on the opposite, research shows that’s not why women progress in their careers.
Instead, it can create stress, keep you distracted and annoyed, and set you up for disappointments, as you are more likely to fail. Striving for perfection creates a lot of stress for you and for those around you, as it is based on expectations that human beings may or may not live up to. This is also not a very sustainable approach overtime and distracts you from the bigger picture.
From a leadership point of view, those who have very high standards for themselves usually have also very high standards for others, which can make coworkers and direct reports uncomfortable, resentful or make them feel as they are not good enough.
Working women often might believe that being perfect is the only path to success, however, this will often come back and bite them.
If that’s the case, why do we do it? Why do we choose a job over a career? Most often we feel loyal to people, our manager or a team. Sometimes we think that if we are interested in moving to a different team, department or a company, it could mean we are unhappy or disloyal.
Therefore, in order to be able to progress in our career you need to communicate your goals and desired path to people in your system.
Having strong relationships and people that can support you is really important. This is why whenever you know you are ready for a move; it is good to communicate it to people you trust and can support you in your transition.
It can be your manager, or your HR business partner. It could also be your mentor and sponsor.
If you don’t communicate that you’re ready to change, you risk to be stuck in your current role for a long time.
By letting your manager and people around you know that it’s time, you communicate your ambition, flexibility and learning mindset.
There is nothing wrong with self-interest.
I often meet very ambitious women that are very loyal to their boss and teams and often are afraid of putting themselves first. This is because we tend to worry about appearing self-serving or selfish and might be uncomfortable admitting that we want to focus on ourselves. When you begin to think about your job in terms of career development, a place you will leave at some point, it suggests that you view your job or project to position yourselves for what will come next and this is just one stop on your professional journey. This doesn’t mean that you only think about the future instead of appreciating where you are now or what you’re learning. This means that you assess the value of every job and how it could serve your long-term career interest.
Striving for excellence motivates you, where striving for perfection is demoralizing. Those two are not the same. They might be related but there actually opposite side of the same coin.
Perfection is a thief of time, draining your energy. It is focused on doing the right thing, on how things appear and if they are done right.
Excellence on the other hand is about doing the right thing. It is focused on the reason for a task and the result for it to be a success. The pursuit of excellence keeps you focused on what actually matters and brings you energy and it doesn’t damage your self-esteem.
Striving for perfection diminishes your productivity, efficiency and effectiveness and damages your peace of mind and heart. Everyone can strive for excellence; anyone can do it.
If you want to succeed in your career, you need to focus on excellence. This means you don’t always have do things right, as long as you always do the right thing, because life is so much more rewarding and enjoyable this way.
I don’t know which of the habits is not allowing you to move forward, but you should know you are not alone, and you don’t have to be alone in this. Reflect on what stops you, identify small things that can help you to change and make sure you have people around you that can keep you accountable and help you move forward!
We are all in this together. We are all working to move the number of women in top positions up.
Connect with Patrycja on Linked in