Climbing the Ladder: Are You Going Up or Down?
By Chelse Benham
First, take stock of yourself, and see where you are in the food chain of your
If you're not at, or near the top, it's time to take immediate remedial action. If
you're already in middle management, decide to take on the toughest hurdle:
moving from middle to top management.
You probably will have to work consciously on modifying many of your habits and
attitudes. Perhaps the most important attitude change will be to give up "the
caretaker-of-the-details trap". The shift from middle manager to top manager is a
shift from "doing" to "directing" or delegating. A top manager must focus on big
picture issues. You must learn to develop successful strategy and effective
management of people. Doing someone else's job can no longer be one of your
options. Tackle the big problems....let someone else pick the ladies' room wall
paper. Learn to take well thought out risks, since being unremarkable and
unnoticed at work won't get you where you want to go either.
If you seem "stuck" in whatever position you're in, take an analytical look at your
company and its true "woman-friendly" quotient.
Does your comapny have women in executive offices and on the board of
directors? Do female executives earn as much as their male counterparts? If not,
you might start looking around at companies where you may find a more "level
playing field" and greater opportunities for advancement. Even a lateral move
can put the momentum back in your career.
Top Ten Signs that it's Time for a Career Change
1. You keep hitting the snooze button because don't want to get out of bed in
2. You wonder if why you didn't join the Peace Corps when you had the
3. You wish you were someone else.
4. You have bad dreams about work.
5. You over-eat, over-drink, over-exercise, or over-analyze to escape.
6. You have frequent headaches or stomachaches when you think about
7. You try to block out all thoughts of tomorrow, because tomorrow means
another day at work.
8. You find yourself humming the tune to "Take this job and shove it"
9. You feel bored or restless at work most of the time.
10. You fantasize about your boss falling into a sinkhole on the way to work.
Top Ten Signs that Your Career is On Track
1. You feel energized, vibrant, and alive.
2. You feel in control of your fate.
3. You feel like you are accomplishing something.
4. You wonder why things seemed so difficult before.
5. You discover things you didn't know you could do.
6. Your body feels at peace and in harmony most of the time.
7. You think about work in your "off-hours", simply because it's interesting.
8. You lose track of time when you are working.
9. You feel generous and loving toward others in your work environment.
10. You can’t wait to get back to work!
Learn to negotiate, to uncover the "hidden agendas and masked perceptions", to
identify your true value, make it visible, and make the negotiation pivot around it.
Almost every day at work, we are faced with some type of negotiation. Not only
must we negotiate for our salary, perks, benefits, title, office space and support
staff, but daily issues involving our duties, the need for increased manpower,
authority over projects, flexibility with clients, arrangements, communication or
sharing of the workload with co-workers; all require a form of negotiation, which,
if we fail to recognize, we will, in all probability, fail to win. Beneath the surface of
all negotiations are "hidden agendas and masked assumptions", most of which
are unfavorable to women. Women, generally, are expected to acquiesce, keep
the peace, not make waves, and be the first to make concessions. Women need
to learn not to buy into this self-defeating set of expectations.
The only reason someone is negotiating with you is that you have a value which
he wants. The more you can make that value visible, and make the negotiation
pivot around it, the stronger your position will be. The first negotiation, which will
shape much of your future is how much you will earn and what benefits you will
receive. Bargain hard and smart. Your work life depends upon it.
To talk is to win.
At every opportunity, step up to the plate, speak up in an authoritative voice and
present a message which is clear and communicates your firm belief in it.
Whether it's a high visibility assignment for your company, a line position which
will get you in the running for senior management or a plum post in London -- ask
for it. Don't hint. Forget indirection and subtlety. If you want a job within the
company ask for it. And ask for the authority to do it right.
Get recognized, the not so easy task for women.
Why is it so difficult for women to get recognized in corporate America? It is one
thing to perform effectively, and it is quite another to be perceived as performing
effectively. The answer to being perceived as effective and getting recognized for
it does not lie in performance. Research shows women perform as well on the
job as men, often better, but men are prone to boasting and successful men have
become experts in self promotion. To most women, boasting is anathema. A
major turning point in most women's careers comes when they recognize that
self promotion is part of the game of business. Start immediately by weaving your
accomplishments into your casual conversations. If you want recognition, you
must broadcast your achievements and press for appropriate rewards and
advancement. No one else will do it for you. And if you start promoting yourself,
you will soon feel comfortable doing it, and equally important, you will begin to
realize you deserve it.
Go for the power and never stop moving up.
Power is an important currency in today's workplace. In fact, power is largely in
the perception of it. To be perceived as powerful, act like a leader. Take charge,
take responsibility, come up with a solution. Do you see a problem crying out for
a solution? Develop a project to address it. Projects not only gather people
together and marshall their strengths to achieve a defined and mutually beneficial
goal, they advertise your skills and position you as a leader. Develop reputational
power by tackling the critical issues and getting results.
Determine to hone and expand your skills, grow and promote yourself, build
relationships and networks, deliver results and be sure to get credit for them.
Then, continue to get feedback.
As measures of your success, you must....
• Have an exceptional skill or expertise at something which delivers real
• Focus on the practical result of the skill you deliver.
• Learn how to be a leader and a supportive team player at the same time.
• Be a visionary..... define a goal and make it a reality.
Advancing Women Web site Create a Plan and Lay Out Milestones
There are a number of reasons why it is important, particularly for women, to set
their own goals and not simply react to the demands or expectations of others.
Everyday, hard working women in organizations "disappear" partly because they
fail to set their own goals.
It is very important for women to realize, they are not at work to be handmaidens
or helpers who easily "disappear" by devaluing their activities. You are at work to
become a change agent, to positively impact the success of your company by
setting goals which are aligned with your company's mission.
Don't wait for someone to tell you what to do. Analyze your company carefully,
and try to understand what you can do which will make a significant difference.
Get a handle on the problem, develop a solution, and a consensus around it,
lobby for approval, then execute better and faster than anyone else.
Develop an "Advisory Board"
To keep your career going strong and achieving its full potential, you will need a
sounding board, someone who can provide you with an objective judgment of
how you're performing. This can be a trusted mentor, or a group of professional
friends, who are willing to meet with you occasionally and review the milestones
you've set for your career.
Take on Public Speaking
It's impossible to overemphasize the value of being a good communicator. What
all leaders share is the ability to articulate and communicate their goals with such
passion or eloquence that others are motivated to share those goals and join
together to achieve them.
Regardless of whether you are an eloquent speaker, you can at least bring
interesting news to an audience, in a fresh and organized way. Since most
people in a general audience are not as up to date on your field as you are, you
should be able to convey something to them which is of interest and which they
didn't know before.
If you are able to display a mastery of a subject, and keep your presentation brief
and to the point, you will make an impression. And public speaking is one of the
best ways to raise your profile in the community and in your professional circle.
Create A Skills Inventory and Continue to Expand
Whether your skills are based on your ability with graphics, or your talent for
getting an office organized or inspiring people to join your project, you have a set
of skills to track and build on. Create your own "portfolio" which identifies and
documents those areas you have developed the most and have the greatest
competitive advantage in, as measured against your peers, and make its
continuous expansion an ongoing priority.
Remember - It's Still About People: Develop A System to Leverage Your
Take a hard look at how you are networking and make some basic decisions
about how to develop a system to make personal contacts and extended
networks work better to advance your career.
Today, in an intensely competitive global environment, it is important to capture
any edge one can. Not only must our career skills constantly be honed, but our
relationships must continue to expand and be nourished in order to maximize our
odds of achieving success.
Creating a career plan with milestones, gathering support, continuing to expand
both our career skills and our networks, if executed faithfully, will lead to success.