Home ContentCommon Mistakes Women Make in Business

Common Mistakes Women Make in Business

Published : May 25, 2016

Business is like a game with a special set of rules.
By organisational psychologist Simone Jeavons of Psych Savvy
 
Business is like a game with a set of rules.
 
The problem is, because men create the majority of organisations, the unwritten rules of business are largely being developed by men, for men.
 
Through understanding the unwritten rules of business, and playing the game successfully, men have access to social advantages that assist them to succeed in the workplace. Most women, on the other hand, are attempting to play a game where they are not naturally advantaged.
 
Women with high ability but without an understanding of the game are often missing out on the social advantages, which helps explain why the so-called glass ceiling is notoriously difficult to break.
 
As women, we have two choices. We can either choose not to play the game and get left behind, or we can learn to become politically savvy so we can play the game and win. Political savvy is not about manipulation, backstabbing and undermining others. It is about having a practical understanding of how an organisation works. This may encompass:
 
 Gaining an accurate understanding of the whole business, not just the section you work in;
 
 Recognising which meetings you need to attend to become visible; and
 
 Identifying which projects to work on to gain access to decision makers and become privy to select pieces of information. 
 
Here are some common mistakes that women sometimes make which prevent them from moving up the career ladder. Are you guilty of any the following?
 
 Note taking and coffee making. Just because we are female does not mean we should take on the menial tasks - unless it is part of our job description. Take the initiative to suggest a system that rotates such tasks weekly between all employees.
 
 Not sharing your achievements. If you don’t let the boss know what you have achieved, it’s unlikely anyone else will. Successful employees are more likely to be considered for promotions. Forward any thank you or job well done emails to your boss and let them know over the coffee machine how many new clients you have brought into the company this month.
 
 Not networking enough. Don’t underestimate the value of networks. The British Institute of Management found that 50 per cent of all senior positions were gained through informal networks. We can all find the time to attend a few networking events a year to build networks both within our current workplace and outside of it.
 
 Working too hard. If you work through your breaks you risk becoming invisible and may appear overwhelmed with your workload. The game is about getting the job done, but not necessarily doing it all yourself. Learn how to delegate and use effective time management. Allow yourself time for a lunchbreak to socialise with colleagues.
 
 Underestimating the value of relationships. Build strong working relationships with clients, colleagues, bosses and other professionals. It is a reciprocal relationship – you do a favour for me and I return the favour. This is not about using one another; it is about participating in a token economy where both parties gain benefit from the relationship. Remember, by the time you need a relationship, it is too late to build it. Start building them now.
 
 Waiting and waiting…. If you wait for things to come to you, like promotions, they rarely do. Go out and get them for yourself. Let your boss know you want to move to the next level, or you want to lead the new project team. If you don’t tell them you want it, they won’t know.
 
 Not communicating and expecting people to mind read. Don’t assume work colleagues or your boss will know what you want, without you having to ask for it. They don’t! Neither do they have degrees in mind reading. As women we are raised to not ask for what we want because good things come to those who wait. They don’t in this game! Ask for exactly what you want and if you don’t get it, question why.
 
 Allowing people to stereotype. Question others when they stereotype you or other women in the workplace. Stereotyping is never okay. It is unlikely to be a figment of your imagination and it won’t just go away. If you are being treated differently to a man on the team, ask why. It may not be intentional, but if we do not address it, the differential treatment will continue. Educate others to treat men and women the same.
 
 Failing to support other women. Just because we may have had to work hard to achieve what we have at work, doesn’t mean other women should have to. Share your experiences with them, so they don’t have to make the same mistakes. Provide them with support, not criticism. Bring other women up with you. Let’s work together.
 
 Deferring to men. Don’t assume what you have to say is not as important as what a man has to say. Don’t allow them to interrupt you or speak over you. If they repeat something you have said and all of a sudden the idea grows wings, draw everyone’s attention back to the fact that it was your idea. For example, if you suggest a lunchtime information session for employees on salary sacrificing and your colleagues ignore it or say no, and five minutes later a male colleague suggests the same thing and everyone agrees it is a workable solution, politely remind everyone you first raised the idea five minutes ago.
 
 Not taking control. If we believe we have no control over our situation then we can do nothing to change it. However, if we believe we are in control we will take the necessary steps to change things. You are the only person who should be in control of your life.
 
Make a choice to succeed at work, take control of your situation and achieve what you set out to achieve. Recognise that you have a lot of value to add to your organisation and let your boss know. Play the game, and play it to win!
 
For further information, visit www.psychsavvy.com.au



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