Leader: The Tipping List
Tips for Chicks in Charge
Advice for women at the top of the ladder from one a few rungs below
There are a few things in the world that should never under any circumstances come back into vogue: skorts (my closet is still crying), cars with wood paneling (why couldn’t we have left the already-homely station wagon alone?) and – lest we forget – the glass ceiling.
Every day, more and more women are making money off their brilliant ideas, getting promoted to top spots within major companies, and becoming their own kick-ass boss. And if you’re lucky enough to see some of these women in action, you know that chicks really do take charge.
From someone who’s reaped the benefits of these powerhouses, I’d like to offer a few tips for female managers to keep in mind when working with women a bit lower in the ranks. Here’s to hope that the gals of generations X and Y will never know the meaning of glass ceilings.*
1. Don’t Sugarcoat the Rough Stuff. Whether it’s as minor as double-booking a meeting on your Outlook calendar or as major as accidentally e-mailing confidential information to all your clients, don’t be afraid to tell it like it is. It’s usually hard for women to instigate tough discussions, in any circumstance, and doing so in the office isn’t any different. Giving honest feedback and constructive criticism, followed by solid tangible ideas on how to improve for next time, will only help your female employees down the line.
2. Expand on Your Experiences. When your female boss turns to you and says “I know exactly how you feel” and means it, it might as well be your doctor giving you a clean bill of health. It’s a comforting relief for employees to hear how their boss dealt with and, more importantly, felt about a sticky situation at work. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you got to where you are (the good, the bad and the worse than that) and try to remember how it felt the first time you choked during a huge presentation or lost a key account. You’ll probably be surprised at how helpful this can be for your female employees – and how easy it is to share your stories.
3. Check in Before Checking out. Female intuition is every woman’s superpower – in relationships, in the bedroom, even in the workplace. If that little voice is telling you something’s off with one of the ladies on your team, check in with her before you leave. Even a simple “How’s everything else going?” at the end of a work-related discussion lets her know that you care about her well-being after the office lights dim. Developing a manager/employee relationship that mixes the appropriate amount of professionalism and friendship will make those harsh fluorescents a little easier to handle – for everyone.
4. Play for her Team. It’s not about always choosing sides but about being on her side – always. Empowering your female employees to make decisions on their own and instilling in them that you’ll back them up is better than a week’s worth of office-birthday-party cupcakes. If the goal is for your employees to do their best every day (and it should be), give them the confidence to be bold and try out their own, off-the-beaten-path ideas – they will if they know you’re behind them.