Woman to Women
Just Say It!
Navigating career waters can be as simple as speaking your mind
It’s refreshing when someone in corporate America just says what’s on his or her mind. Really. Seriously. I am not kidding. Nonchalance, beating around the bush is for the birds. We are all well-mannered, schooled, graduated professionals but something has to give. Please. Be polite, but speak your mind.
A friend of mine, recently having drafted several scenarios of his department’s demise, made an appointment with his ‘boss’ (you know I love that word) and asked, “What are my long-term prospects with this organization?” That is an example of open, honest, candid, respectable conversation. Effectively, his division is losing ground quickly in market share and the group is going to have to make substantial cuts. Rather than curling up in a ball and wringing his hands endlessly, he made an appointment and, like an adult, asked the question. Fair. The division head was honest, not effusive but realistic about the group and my friend’s role in the organization’s future.
If you have something on your mind, it’s best to put it out there. Be professional and adult, and let your superior know you are thinking ahead. The phrase ‘it’s not personal, it’s just business’ works on both ends of the spectrum.
Here are a few tips on how best to express your agitation or anxiety:
1. Be thoughtful. Jot down your concerns and put them in categories: for example: my current role, my department/division, growth potential, one-year, three-year and five-year opportunities.
2. It IS business, and it’s NOT personal. Products go flat. Business units get sold. Managers get fired. Take it on the chin and look for opportunities. Go big or go home. How can you make this change-up work for you? Think about it and figure it out.
3. Define your end game. What do you want from this conversation – security, a promotion, a nod, an executive sponsor? By defining what you want, you will be ahead of your peers and will be viewed as thoughtful and strategic. That is never a bad thing.
4. Ask. If you want something, ask for it. Mind readers hang out at carnivals, dingy alleyway storefronts and boardwalks. They don’t exist in corporate settings – too stifling. If you want something, you will need to put on your big-girl panties and ask (POLITELY) for it. Your mother will ultimately be proud. She may gasp at first, but in the end she will back you 100 percent and likely wish that she had asked for WHATEVER way back when.
5. Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles. You may have to wait three months or six, but in the end, stay in touch, stay accountable and, as my mother always says, if it’s meant to be, it will be.
6. Lastly, be smart. Trust your gut. Don’t be emotional. If it’s not in the cards, that’s okay. What’s the worst-case scenario – they say no? So what? You’re smart. You’ll figure it out.