Dear Working Mother – Here Is How To Leave Work On Time (most days)

In the modern corporate world, there is the mistaken assumption, that  ‘working late equals working harder.’ There is also a bias towards working mothers (parents) who need to leave work at a particular time, while other colleagues are still working.

I refute the belief that staying late equals working harder. Maybe. But I am not convinced. At all.

A better way to assess levels of productivity is by looking at outputs and not by who sticks around until late.

Related Post: Build your own work life balance: plus free work life balance check list

Often we are encouraged to ‘work hard,’ and ‘stretch ourselves’. Yes, that it is important, however, it is essential to set boundaries. Whether it is to get home to your child, go gym or because you have band practice (I am just saying, it could be anything).

This is how to get time back into your day, get things done and leave on time.

Let go of the guilt when you pick up your bag to leave the office!

[bctt tweet=”Dear Working mother – here is how to leave the office on time (by being focused on getting things done)” username=”cherralle_”]

Dear Working Mother – Here Is How To Leave Work On Time

dear working mother how to leave work on time

Plan your day and Focus on the right things

Do you start your day with no idea what your priorities are? Following a haphazard approach to whatever comes your way?  – if yes then there is an opportunity to plan your day.

When you get to work, become laser focused on your main priorities. Use whichever system works for you. I have set up for myself a hybrid between a Bullet Journal and a Planner, I copy this layout (more or less) in my work notebook. You may download the planner template here.

Outline your main focus areas for the week.

Set this up Sunday evening or Monday morning. Then, each morning spend 3 – 5 minutes outlining what will be your top three goals for the day. Yes, only three then tackle at least one before you read emails. The items you do not complete get carried over to the next day and so on.  You should also add other tasks to your list. However, you know what the top 3 are.

Yes, you will have unexpected deliverables that will pop up, but you will always keep coming back to your three primary goals.

And yes, also add your personal tasks. Need to make a school fees payment or book a dentist appointment? Add it on to your to-do list.

Related Post7 Reasons Why I am Pretty Certain We Are Only Having Two Kids

Number one productivity killer is meetings

Meetings, meetings, meetings.

Do you sit in a meeting and go ‘why was I invited to this meeting’ or ‘I could be doing actual work right now’ – if yes then there is an opportunity to rework your meeting schedule.

Here is a crazy thought, cancel 50% of your meetings and you will get more done! Okay, easier said than done. Let’s take a more pragmatic approach.

Firstly, accept that a meeting is not ‘work’.
Meetings are discussing and organising work. Here are a few excellent points on how to make a meeting productive.

Reevaluating and cutting the time you spend in meetings will undoubtedly make you more productive and allow you to leave work on time. Politely decline meetings you feel are not relevant to your priorities.

[bctt tweet=”Struggling to leave work on time? Tip: assess your meetings, then ask yourself are they all necessary?” username=”cherralle_”]

Related Post: Ace Your To Do List with These 7 Tips

Use time blocks and get more done

A practice I have implemented for myself is to block out 2 -3 hours in my diary daily for PURE work. No meetings. All meetings get scheduled around this time if need be. I also block out 16h00 – 17h00, so I have no meetings after 16h00 (so I can wrap up at the end of my day). It works 90% of the time, which is progress.

Working over time, leads to decreased productivity

Continually working over time will reduce your productivity. As work hours add up to over 50 per week, productivity slows down. You may lose energy and start working slower. You can read further about this study as summarised in the Economist.

But, don’t take my word for it. Reflect upon your health and pace of work. Do you really feel that you are productive at work when you have been pushing 12 hours days? When you are always under pressure to stay late at work? When you are wrecked with guilt because its another day you miss supper or bath time?

In Closing

Time is a valuable resource. Our jobs need our time and dedication, but so does our friends, family, and personal commitments.

Long hours does not equal doing more. It’s pretty simple: Prioritize, evaluate your time spent in meetings and learn to set boundaries.

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How to Say No At Work (and win respect while doing it)

Accepting stretch assignments at work is good for your career. They provide you with growth and sponsorship opportunities. Extra work allows you additional space to flex your muscles and show your boss and team what you are capable of.

Those are good aims. However, at a certain point, you must learn how to say no at work.

To excel in your role, you need to  take on extra work that is a healthy challenging stretch (a bit uncomfortable), but you also need to learn to say no if it will cause your performance to deteriorate.

[bctt tweet=”Focus is about saying ‘No’. Steve Jobs Quote” username=”cherralle_”]

What is the right way to say no?

It has to be framed within the right context.

Related Post6 Ways to Add Self-Care to Your Work Routine (and get things done)

Context is important

how to say no at work flaylay feminine

It is important to understand the context of the request and the context of your position.  Example, if you are an intern, you pretty much don’t have many ‘No’s’ in your back pocket. However, if you are a seasoned and trusted contributor in your company, and your reasons are valid, you should be able to respectfully push back.

Secondly, approach the ‘no’ in a positive and helpful way, it must be framed correctly.

Provide a thoughtful and logical response, because you do not want to come across as ‘lazy’. If your boss can appreciate your perspective then they will accept you rationale when you say ‘no’.  Later on in this post we outline how to go about this.

[bctt tweet=”There is a right way and a wrong way to say ‘no’ at work. Do it right and win respect.” username=”cherralle_”]

Good Possible Reasons to Say ‘No’ At Work

  • You are working on key projects with no capacity left (even if you put in extra hours it will not suffice)
  • Your current projects will suffer drastically if you split your focus now
  • You are unable to delegate your current work to make space for the new project

Terrible Reasons to Say ‘No’ at Work

  • It is not in your job description (BIG NO NO!!)
  • You have a lot going on in your personal life and cannot deal with this right now

Once you determined that you have a valid reason to say no, this is how to go about it.

Related Post: How to Deal With a Bad Boss

How to Say No At Work (and win respect while doing it)

Clarify your other responsibilities

Share which other projects you are currently working on with imminent deadlines. However, communicate when you will be able to take it on (provide a reasonable next date) and provide it the right level of attention.

This way you are showing that you not just bluntly saying no. You do want the project but just not right now.

Prioritization 

Share with your boss how you have currently prioritised your workload and deliverables. Your boss may request you to prioritise a new deliverable.

If this happens, it’s important to have clarity of expectations. Ensure that you both agree which project becomes the priority. Get it in writing if need be (a ‘to confirm our discussion email’ would suffice).

Related Post: 10 Things A Working Mother Needs to Survive

Offer an alternative and help solve the problem

You want to maintain your reputation of someone who is a star player, and so its important to be genuinely helpful.

Remember, when your boss approaches you to drive a project, you can’t go laying down your problems.

Offer the following solutions:

  • Take up the project at a later date if its workable (as per the above)
  • You can offer to contribute in another way, e.g. take a piece of the project instead of the whole piece
  • You can suggest a colleague who you know is keen to get involved in the specific topic (however be a good colleague and check with them first)
  • Request resources: could be additional time from someone else
  • Alternatively, just push through if you really cannot find a work around (but this should not be a common occurrence)

In Closing

It is important to take a solution oriented approach to saying no at work. Always lead with positivity and remember the main goal is always to deliver strong performance.

Chime in. Do you feel okay saying ‘no’ at work?

Further Reading: 7 Things A Working Mother Wants to Tell Her Boss

 

 

 

How To Deal with a Bad Boss in a Professional Way

Your boss is one person who has an overwhelming influence on your work life.

A 2015 Gallup study found that 50% of people admitted to leaving a job just so that they can get away from their manager.

A stressful work environment can also wreak havoc on your personal life, as work-life stress tends to spills over.

Now, before externalising the situation entirely;  it is essential to keep in mind that a relationship between a manager and employee is a two-way street. You also play a role in the dynamic.

Dealing with a toxic boss requires high EQ, and management of your own emotions. However, it is possible to create a workable situation (in most cases).

Related Post: 7 Things To Look for In A Job Besides Salary

Here are four examples of how to deal with a bad boss and still keep it professional

woman dealing with a bad boss

 

Your boss takes credit for your work

You deliver an excellent, well-researched presentation or project idea to your boss’ desk. Next thing you know, your boss is being singled out by the powers higher up for delivering this well-researched presentation or project.

You do not get so much as a mention.

[bctt tweet=”Good leaders will shine the spotlight on their team when things go well. That’s just what they do.” username=”cherralle_”]

Workaround: 

There might not be anything you can do outright, as it may reflect poorly on you if you raise this haphazardly.

What you can do is keep meticulous notes about your work, including email trails.

Secondly, invest time and energy into expanding your network beyond your boss (with your boss’ blessing and encouragement). Ensure that you are building relationships laterally and with other seniors in the organisation.

Thirdly, always attempt to address the issue with your boss directly. Share that you felt your contribution was disregarded.

Related Post: 13 Tips for your Twenties that Can Boost Your Career

When things go bad, your boss is nowhere in sight

Following on the previous point, the inverse is also true. A horrible boss will make himself very scarce when things go south and may throw a team member under the bus.

They will ensure that someone else is put in the spotlight to take ‘blame’ for a project gone wrong.

A great leader will hold people accountable but will stand with the team.

Leaders understand that it is also their role to manage anxiety levels in the team when things go wrong. Not add to it.

Work around: 

Keeping a track record of your performance and contributions at all times remains a crucial strategy for dealing with a toxic boss.

Over and above this, approach the matter in a very calm way. Reach out to your boss for a meeting and ask  questions in a non-confrontational way.

Approach it in a way where you want to ‘seek to understand’ and learn from the situation.

Assess the extent of the damage. If it is a minor thing, you may overlook it and address it with your boss only. If this situation can seriously railroad your career or reputation, you may need to take it to the higher-ups.

Related Post: 6 Hacks to Transform Your CV in 20 Minutes

Your boss is a micromanager

First things first.

Take a careful look and assess if you have been dropping balls that warrant a more hands on manager.

If not, then a micromanager is a challenge.

A micromanaging boss will impede your productivity (as they want to get involved everywhere and slow you down). Secondly, it starts chipping away at your confidence levels and sense of independence.

Workaround:

Overshare and share some more. Feed the micromanager what she wants: details of your meetings, summary reports and quick pop-ins with status updates. Feed the need for your micromanager to be involved so that you will start noticing they won’t keep getting involved in your work.

You will start sending signals out that you got this and they will start loosening the grip.

Also, pay meticulous attention to how she likes things done, so that you can factor that in when you deliver a piece of work.

Herewith a further article from The Muse detailing how to deal with a micro managing boss.

[bctt tweet=”Invest in building a good relationship with your boss. Once you have done that, then can you evaluate if it is working out.” username=”cherralle_”]

Your boss is always right…

Always must have the last word.

Must sign off everything.

Ensures that all final decisions are theirs.

Can do your job better than you.

Sound familiar?
The sad part about this scenario is that stifled creativity becomes the order of the day. People are just not up for getting their ideas ‘shot down’.

Work around:

A winning strategy in this situation is to make sure that your idea, is also your boss’ idea. Or if it is your idea, link it to something they mentioned. In this way, you are making your boss part of the concept. You will get less resistance, and they will feel part of it.

Now, this is not about sucking up; it’s about finding a creative way to get your outcome, which is getting your idea signed off. The goal must always be delivering strong performance.

In Closing

If the issues with your boss still persist you need to use your internal network to find another role in your company or look for a job externally.

A boss has a significant impact on your work life, and this spills over in your personal life. If you can find ways to work around it and still build a fantastic career that is awesome. However, if you cannot, you need to reflect on whether it is worth it. Remember to always keep it professional when you deal with a bad boss.

If you are in the job market, check out our job search resources, including how to update your CV fast, updating your LinkedIn profile how to prepare for an interview.

The Number one Career Goal you need for 2018 – Get Uncomfortable

Staying in your comfort zone is easy. Everyone is there, because it is so cosy.

Leap into 2018 and push yourself out of your comfort zone. 

Limited growth and learning can happen when you are in your comfort zone. Reject the comfort zone, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

[bctt tweet=”The only career goal you need for 2018. Get Comfortable with being uncomfortable” username=”cherralle_”]

That drive in your belly when you feel ‘uh oh, I need to learn that,’ that is a good thing! That is where learning and growth happens.

Related Post: 13 Tips for your Twenties that Can Boost Your Career

How to get comfortable with being uncomfortable

2018 career advice

Begin.

One of key things holding you back is waiting for the right moment to begin. There is no right moment. Identify the first action you need to take to get started with what you want to do and just do it. Take action now. Have a bias for action, always.

Do you know the difference between yourself and the person you admire who is kicking ass and taking names? They are not necessarily smarter than you, or more creative than you. They were more action-oriented than you are right now.

Let go of perfection.

I cannot stress enough how debilitating the pursuit of perfection is. There is no such thing. Instead take action with what you have now, today, and adjust along the way.

[bctt tweet=”Action and progress today is better than perfection in some undetermined future. ” username=”cherralle_”]

Push yourself to take the  next step

Learning and trying out something new is hard. The reality is that things worthwhile in life is HARD.

Even when it feels hard to go on. Even when it feels like so much hard work. The voice inside your head is telling you to quit. That it is just not worth the effort.

Take a step back and identify the next action.

Only one next action. And do that. Then again and again. By setting little goals, you can push through. 

No one knows everything. The new world is evolving too fast for anyone to be a multi-year expert in anything. We can all learn.

[bctt tweet=”The world is moving so fast – that means that the playing field has equaled. Lean in and learn something new” username=”cherralle_”]

go the extra mile quote

Find your tribe

Experimenting with a new venture or learning path, will attract naysayers.  It will be your responsibility to find yourself like-minded people and surround yourself with them.

Remember when people are judging you, it’s about them and their own self-doubt. Not about you.

Prepare and then fake it.

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Then fake it. No one knows what the hell is going on with everything. If you are the one who knows what is going on all the time, you need to question that and disrupt yourself.

Go the extra mile; it is never crowded. If you go the extra mile and you are prepared, you will not be faking it for long.  You will be growing and learning.

Don’t let fear of the unknown paralyze you.

Make a decision and lean into that decision. So many times, people play around with ideas in their head. Wanting to start a business, apply for a new job, or pick up their studies. However, the never take the first step because they are paralyzed by the fear of the unknown and the decision is never made.

We will never know the answers. To grow and learn we need to be able to cope with uncertainty and become uncomfortable.

What is your commitment to yourself in 2018?

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Further Reading: 7 Things To Look for In A Job Besides Salary

 

8 Tricky Interview Questions and How to Knock Them Out the Park

Job Interviews can be nerve-wracking and tricky interview questions can make one nervous. Having a solid CV and a decent LinkedIn Profile is what got you the interview, now you need to ace the interview.

You do need to allow your unique personality to shine in the interview. However, it will be in your best interest to prepare for some of the more trickier questions.

[bctt tweet=”8 Tricky Interview questions and how to knock them out the park! #1 what is your biggest weakness?” username=”cherralle_”]

Here are 8 Tricky Interview questions and how to knock them out the parkjob search interview questions

 

 

1. What is your biggest weakness?

I once sat in an interview where someone responded “nothing; I really cannot think of anything.”

Really?

You need to show the interviewer that you are a self-aware person. Also, think about what you share in the context of the job. If it’s a finance job, and attention to detail is paramount, don’t share that as a weakness(although should you be applying if it is?).

Do this: Confess the weakness.

Then add a Recovery – how you are turning the weakness around.

Say something along the lines of: “I can be impatient at times, and I press for results quick. I come across as impatient as I like to get things done quickly. However, once I received the feedback, I have learned that different people work in different ways and may not have the same priority I have. I am now much more open to understanding where others are coming from“.

See, a weakness that is also a strength in disguise.

2. What are your greatest strengths?

Be very specific. Pick a strength that is highly relevant to the job and company. Describe it regarding a behavioural trait and share an example of you have used this strength to impact your work environment positively.

Don’t say ‘communication skills’.

Say: “I invest in building relationships through adding value. And so, I understand how and what to communicate to and use that to influence others.”

3. Why are you leaving your current company/ role?

Firstly do not bad mouth your previous employer. Irrespective of what happened, you don’t want to bring negative energy into the room. And besides, you will come across as a negative person.

Instead, focus on the opportunity you want now.

Don’t Say: I hate my boss/ company.

Say: “I would love to expand my career with your company OR I am excited at the prospect of focusing on working on end to end delivery whereas I am only currently doing one part.”

4. Why do you want this role?

Anchor the answer to this question in your research. Remember, you must research the company and the job beforehand. Focus on the key deliverables and requirements of the job, and map your own experiences against this.

[bctt tweet=”Don’t blow it – do your research of the company & job before the interview” username=”cherralle_”]

Don’t Say: Well, the job looks fascinating.

Say: “I have read up on your company and the work conducted in the engineering department is phenomenal. It is considered leading edge, and I would like to be a part of it. My experience in process mapping can add a lot of value here.”

You need to link what you have read to what value you could bring to the company. Be sincere.

5. How do you deal with pressure in your current job?

Use this as an opportunity to showcase your drive and how you organise yourself (and others).

Don’t say: I just cannot cope well with pressure.

Say: “Pressure keeps me focused and drives me. It keeps me on my toes. There are times when too much pressure can lead to stress, however planning and prioritization is essential.”
Share an example demonstrating how you dealt with  a stressful time at work.

6. Tell me a bit about yourself?

Don’t ramble on about your whole life story, the hiring manager already as your CV.

Share two personal things about yourself that reflects your human side. Then go into what you are doing currently professionally, how you go there and then land it with what you want to do next (get this job!);

7. What do you like to do in your free time?

Again, very important to show your relatable side. Don’t be too casual though.

Don’t say: I like to hang out with friends on weekends

Do share something a bit meatier; it is an interview after all. Share things such as ‘I am an avid reader’ or ‘I run/garden’ and why those things make you tick.

8. Do you prefer to work in a team or by yourself?

Be careful of this one, because it depends on the job situation. However, even if the job calls for either one of these, you need to be able to express that you are okay in both cases.

Don’t say: I prefer working by myself, people just get in the way of getting things done.

Say: “I am equally comfortable working independently and working as part of a team.”

Go ahead and share an example of where you had to work in a team and when you had to work by yourself and the results of each.

As you can see, attending an interview does require preparation. However, it does not need to be daunting.
Herewith a nifty infographic with six steps to take an interview to help you prepare for any interview.

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7 Things To Look For in a Job (besides salary)

When looking for a job, salary is a critical element in your decisions making. However, a trend is emerging that people are assessing other features over and above salary.

Also, by continuously making decisions based on money as the only driver, it may lead you down a career path that leaves you unfulfilled. Here are seven things to assess when looking at a job.

Related Post: You Worked So Hard this week! 5 Easy Ways to Treat Yourself on the Weekend

7 Things to look for in a job (besides salary)

Opportunity to grow

Understand what prospects the company has for your future growth. Is there an opportunity to grow and expand your skill sets in the role? Are training and development opportunities made available to its employees? Understand the answers to these questions if career growth is important to you.

Flexibility

Does the role allow you an opportunity to work in a flexible way? It is important to have space in your life to work towards your personal goals too. Whether for you it is your role as a parent, volunteerism or your yoga!

 Employee perks

Perks associated with the job can make a significant impact on the overall benefits. Example, daycare, preferential rates, pension funds, etc. Do not underestimate the impact that perks can have on your total package or your lifestyle.

Related Post: 6 Hacks to Transform Your CV in 20 Minutes

Company culture

Is the culture friendly, and open? Does it have a small start-up vibe or is it a more corporate environment? Understand where you fit in best and what environment you need to deliver at your best.

[bctt tweet=”Company culture is a key consideration when evaluating if a job is for you, do not underestimate it” username=”cherralle_”]

Your team

Who are your colleagues? Are they supportive and engaging? You will be spending up to eight to nine hours a day with your colleagues, make sure you like each other.

Alignment of values

Does the work you align with your value system? You want to see an alignment between your values and that of the company. Walking into a job every day and feeling that you are going against what you stand for is not a way to live and work.

The work is just ‘good fun’

Doing work that you love and excites you is a factor that can sway you towards a particular job. Being engaged, fulfilled and energised doing what you do is an achievement.

Do you know how you know your job is fun? It is when YOU LOVE MONDAYS!

Over to you, is there any factor you believe is essential when evaluating if a job is a fit for you?

Further Reading: 8 Career Tips to Throw in the Trash and What To Do Instead

8 Career Tips That You Must Throw in the Trash (and what to do instead)

Seeking out career guidance can be a wise move. However, you also need to interrogate the advice and ensure it is valid. Always reflect on advice given and consider its applicability to you. Here are 8 pieces of advice, I believe we should all question.

Handpicked Post: Six Hacks to Transform Your CV In Twenty Minutes

Here are eight pieces of career advice you must throw in the trash

Follow your dreams

A lot of people dream. And while they are dreaming, the really interesting, powerful and engaged people are busy doing“. Shonda Rhimes. Do I need to mention who Shonda is? She is the Creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal (The Fixer), How to Get Away with Murder.

Better Advice:  Just work. Know your dream or goal but then tomorrow take action towards that, so you are working towards concrete actions. That is working towards an outcome. Not just dreaming.

Handpicked Post: Shonda Rhimes: 5 Key Lessons from Year of Yes (and why you need this book in your life)

Women should pick a career that has flexibility to accommodate their future family (even if they don’t have a one right now)

I love how Sheryl Sandberg laid it out. “Don’t leave before you leave”. Women sometimes avoid demanding professions, or projects at the start of their career because they are thinking about their ‘future family needs’.

Cross that bridge when you get to it. For now go for what is interesting and what you want to do. You do not know what like choices you will make when or if you do start a family.

Rather: Make decisions, for now,  go for that interesting assignment. Go for that international experience. You don’t know what the future holds. And you can make the decision later, whatever the decision is.

[bctt tweet=”Stay engaged until you are at the point where you need to make a work life balance decision. ” username=”cherralle_”]

‘Establish yourself in yourself twenties then can settle down in your thirties’

Work work work in your twenties then you can ‘slow down later and have children.’

My view of the world: Start as you mean to go on. Wonderfully talented people, are working incredibly hard in their twenties. Then wake up in their thirties and lost out on a bulk of their personal development and have not invested in important personal relationships. Friends, romantic partnerships,  travelling, etc. Work yes, work hard. But also LIVE in your TWENTIES!!

women working on laptop_C

You need to reach your full potential

What exactly does this mean? Its seems all too ‘heavy’. Is full potential an end goal, like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Only in this case, ‘full potential’ is at the end? Do we all start at the bottom of the triangle with 10% potential, 25 % potential and so on?

Handpicked Post: Step Up Your Linked In Game – 6 Tips for the Savvy Professional

Instead: Just focus on working each day (in your own business or at work) to add value to your environment and continue to learn. If you bring value and you are making a positive impact on others, you are achieving. That is the goal. Add value and keep learning.

By the way, people change, industries change, careers change. It’s cool, let us just be present and engaged to adding value right now. Who knows what will inspire you in 5 years time?

Work hard, and rewards will follow

I am just going to state this bluntly. This is not TRUE! Working hard is not enough.

You need to add value to the business measurable goals but guess what you also need to, self-promote, manage sideways and manage up. You need to ensure that the right people are aware of what you have done.

You need to manage sideways, and build good relationships with peers, and your team. Lastly but very importantly you need to manage up. Your management needs to feel you add value. You need sponsorship. Only then, will the rewards come. I hate to break it to you, but you can be working your bum off. If no one knows, you will not get recognised.

Don’t be too emotional at work

Do not talk about your children. Don’t show your personality at work. Do not cry at work (come on ladies, we all know women cry at work more than men!). Do you and be you.  Be professional yes! But, show people who you are. Bring yourself to work. 

[bctt tweet=”Bring yourself to work. You do not need to be a carbon copy of everyone else. ” username=”cherralle_”]

Take the job that you are already good at

Are you being advised to do something because you have been doing it for however many years. Is that what you really want, doing the same thing for the next few decades of your career? If the answer is yes that is okay, but be honest with yourself. I am not saying, leave your job, but you can seek out new ways of innovating and stretching yourself in your current role.

Accept this: We don’t need to know everything. You can learn something by doing. Your comfort zone is a place where limited learning will happen.

Being uncomfortable is where the learning happens, so go for it and learn by doing.

Attend Women Networking and Leadership Programmes

Okay, I don’t think we should throw this away completely, I just believe that you should be open-minded and make this type of programme a supplement to general programmes.

I had an interesting discussion with a young leader earlier this year. And she advised me that she has a considerably low interest in Female Leadership programmes, there were better programmes she wanted to attend. I was shocked – why I asked. Thinking how ungrateful as there were fantastic opportunities at hand. She proceeded to advise me that:

  1. The programme because it is targeted towards women, made her feel she was ‘deficient’ in some way for being a woman.
  2. Leadership is leadership, and besides,
  3. She wants to learn and connect with women AND MEN.

A Balanced view: Leadership programmes targeted towards women are good as it can address challenges faced by women unique to use (e.g., challenges with self-promotion, and asking for what we want, parental responsibilities). However, it should be seen in the context of your full development. Women need to learn from other women, other mothers, as we may have similar challenges, but we also need to learn from men.

Any other pieces of career advice you think we should question?

Further Reading: 5 Ways The Impostor Syndrome Can Help your Career – If You Embrace It

 

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

5 Ways The Impostor Syndrome Can Help Your Career (if you embrace it) 

‘What am I doing here? I have been lucky so far in my career. I am going to be caught out, and they will find out that I don’t know what I am doing!’ The anxious voice inside your head that is the impostor syndrome.

If you are a high achieving female, you are even more prone to it. You consistently attribute your success to external factors; you just cannot help it.

Self-doubt and insecurities is a normal part of any career. The key question is how do you respond to this emotion. Do you accept it and allow it to take up space in your life, or do you use it to propel yourself forward?

Related Post: The Maternal Wall: How To Disrupt Bias Against Working Mothers

If we completely reject the impostor syndrome and adopt a view of ‘I am the master of this craft, I have nothing more to learn,’ we would be overconfident, and there is a danger to that.

Here are Four Ways How The Impostor Syndrome Can Help Your Career

Your learning agility will remain high

When you feel like you do not know enough about a particular topic, you can leverage this insecurity and channel it into growth and learning. Instead of allowing this feeling to cripple you, embrace it.

I discussed with a senior technology manager, about how I ‘google’ technology topics all the time. He proceeded to advise me that there is nothing wrong with that, up until today he is always reading from various sources about new technologies and attends training on new technologies all the time. Because it is such as a fast paced industry, he must read to be up to date with the latest trends. On the outside, this person looks like a technology power house. However, the fact of the matter is that he puts in a lot of effort to stay abreast, and he is a highly credible individual.

Having a little insecurity can drive you to learn and apply yourself more.

[bctt tweet=”Use the impostor syndrome in a positive way  & channel it into learning and growth.” username=”cherralle_”]

If you have all the answers, you are in a comfort zone

Being comfortable and knowing all the answers, means that you are in your comfort zone. Extremely limited growth and learning can happen when you are in your comfort zone. Reject the comfort zone, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

That drive in your belly when you feel ‘uh oh, I need to learn that,’ that is a good thing! That is where the magic happens.

[bctt tweet=”The ‘uh oh I need to go learn that’ feeling – that is a good feeling, embrace it.” username=”cherralle_”]

You over prepared and that is okay

When you have that ‘uh oh’ feeling and you embrace it, you go off to learn, you self-teach, and you come back over prepared. Going away and learning, is a good thing because you acknowledge that you do not have the answers, and you went away and applied yourself to the topic. How many times, have you come across individuals who ‘know it all’ – but then they have missed key points on a  subject because they were just too arrogant to open their minds and go and prepare? Going away and learning is a behaviour we should all adopt.

Related Post: 13 Career Tips For Your Twenties That Can Boost Your Career

You know what you don’t know

Impostor syndrome mostly happens to individuals who are high achieving and have set the bar high. They know what they do not know. People who are low achievers rarely have the impostor syndrome, sometimes they do not know what they don’t know and couldn’t be bothered.

In fact, the more an individual becomes knowledgeable in a topic, the more the impostor syndrome grows. Because, as you reach higher levels of knowledge, you realise what more you need to know. This need to know more, is partly why it plagues high achievers.

Own your successes, but don’t get too complacent

If you are never an impostor, you need to reassess your career.  Are you in a comfort zone? The rate of change is so fast; robotics is entering every industry and job that there is. “Robots are currently analyzing documents, filling prescriptions, and handling other tasks that were once exclusively done by humans”, says Judith Aquino.

The impostor syndrome can have a positive impact if you use it as fuel. It keeps your mind open, fresh and eager to learn something new.

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Further Reading:

7 Leadership Lessons from Game of Thrones Season 7

Featured Image: istock

How to Stop Networking And Start Building Relationships

When I hear the term ‘networking’ I want to run a mile, being naturally an introvert the language creates discomfort. I know that networking is a critical aspect of building my professional and personal network. But I still picture it as an awkward scenario whereby I am standing around making small talk.

What helps is when I frame networking as follows: a group of people with shared interests and passions, who are coming together to share their passions with each other. It is about building and investing in relationships. Networking is not about ‘who you know’ and how you can ‘score favours’. It is the art of establishing a circle of people around you that you add value to and they do the same for you.

[bctt tweet=”Networking is not about scoring favours, it is about how you can add value to those in your circle” username=”cherralle_”]

Related Post: 6 Hacks To Transform Your CV In 20 Minutes

How to Stop Networking and Build Relationships

Be Intentional

When networking, it’s important to not come across as just ‘wanting’ something from the other person. However, it remains  important to know who are the people in your space and to identify the ones you want to get to know. Remember that we all only have a certain amount of resources (e.g. time) and you want to spend it wisely.

Do Social Research

Conduct brief social research on the individuals you want to add to your network. Check out their LinkedIn, Twitter or any blogs they write. In this way, you may learn some relevant information about people. You will also get a glimpse into what their interests are.

Add Value

Know how you add value to others. Go with the intent of understanding how you may help and add value to others, and then these individuals may help you in the future. If your intent is to ‘network’ to get favours and jobs, you need to change this. People can pick up if you are trying to use them, hence focus on the value you bring to the table.

[bctt tweet=”People can pick up if you are trying to use them, hence focus on the value you bring to the table” username=”cherralle_”]

Related Post: 7 Leadership Lessons From Game Of Thrones Season 7

Treat All People Equal

It may be tempting to ‘overlook’ someone who you may deem as unimportant. However, each person is unique and has their own value. If someone engages with you, who is not the director of something, do not brush them off, engage. You will be surprised what you can learn by building relationships with a diverse group of people.

Be Interested to be Interesting

The more interested you are in others, the more interesting you will come across. As human beings, we love to be listened to and acknowledged. Connect with a person through showing genuine interest in them. Listen carefully when they speak so you can engage on where they are coming from and contribute meaningfully to what they are saying.

When I break it down like this, it does not seem overwhelming or awkward. So next time you set up a function (or invited to one), think of not calling it a networking event and calling it what it is. The purpose of such an event should be to connect like minded people to share ideas.

Related Post: 13 Tips For Your Twenties That Can Boost Your Career

Featured Image: istock

The Maternal Wall: How to Disrupt Bias Against Working Mothers

“One of the worst career moves a woman can make is to have children”, states Clair Cain Miller in the New York Times.

Given an identical CV to review, with only 4 words added to the one (member of the PTA); 79% of participants chose the candidate who is not a mother. Mothers are 50% less likely to get promoted. These are stats shared  by Joanne C Williams. A further study cited in the  Journal of Social Studies backs this up, where it was found that subtly adding to a candidate profile that she was a  mother, led to the mother being less likely to be chosen for assignments, promoted and marked as less competent. A maternal wall is a form of bias towards women  because they have children. Therefore, it is the strongest form of bias faced by women.

[bctt tweet=”‘Maternal Wall’ is the strongest form of bias faced by women, just because they have children.” username=”cherralle_”]

In this post I will discuss:

  • What is maternal bias, and how it shows up
  • Steps women can take to disrupt the maternal wall bias
  • Steps employers can take to disrupt the maternal wall bias

Related Post: Bye Bye Mommy Guilt – Why You Should Feel Proud Of Being a Working Mom

photoshoot parents and child

What is maternal wall bias

Maternal wall bias kicks in as soon as women have children,  subtly their career prospects are impacted. It is linked to perceptions regarding how a mother should behave, where her place is and an assumption that she will pick the ‘mommy track’. Mommy track is defined as a path selected by mothers who choose to put their family first and ‘opt out’ of a career. Mothers are seen as less competent than childless counterparts. On the other hand mothers are also seen as ‘harsh and cold’ if they remain committed to their careers.

I have experienced this form of unconscious bias when I get asked why I stay late at work, ‘because I have children’. However, this question is not asked of my colleagues with no kids. Which is absurd as staying late at work impacts employees whether they have children or not.  “What are your kids and husband having for supper?”, I have been asked. These are well-meaning questions and not meant to do any harm, but it demonstrates unconscious bias and judgment that working mothers face. “You are not interested in a career path are you, your child needs you?”, I was asked by a well-meaning individual.

Undesirable employees, who are unable to commit is an incorrect perception of working mothers, which is part of the maternal wall bias. Seen as full of ‘issues’ and ‘not committed’. On the other hand, when working mothers remain career committed and ambitions they are deemed to be ‘not maternal enough’  and made out to be ‘cold’, as stated in the Harvard Business Review.

mother and daughter

How mothers may disrupt the maternal wall bias

As discussed by Joan C Williams.

Set realistic standards for yourself

Know that being available 24/7 for your kids all the time is not possible. Let go of perfectionism, and accept that striving for perfection will cause additional stressors in family life.

Related Post: Featured: Why I Am Okay With Being a Good Enough Parent

If you remain career committed, signal it very clearly

When you return from maternity leave, make a point of discussing your career goals with your manager. If you want to be promoted,  willing to travel, relocate and if you are the primary earner – you need state this clearly. If you do not state this explicitly, certain assumption will be made for you.

Related Post: Maternity Leave: 5 Practical Steps To Make Returning To Work Easier

Strive for equal parenting if it suits your value system

Provided you are not a single parent. Know that you are not solely accountable for the well-being of your child and family. Engage and discuss with your partner how to share home responsibilities.

If you are a mother in a senior position, you must be a role model

You are in a position to set an example for others when you reach a level in the organisation when you have people who report to you. By showing your motherhood and announcing when you need to leave early for an event at your child’s school, sets the tone for the environment. Very importantly, it creates a space to allow mothers and fathers to be open about their parenthood.

Related Post: Do I Still Need To Lean In When I Am Just So Tired?

How employers may disrupt the maternal wall bias

Promotions, salary, and assignments need to be free of bias

Review policies and processes to ensure that this bias does not come into play. When making employment decisions, someone’s care giver status cannot be a factor.

Adopt a flexible approach to work

One way to overcome bias is to apply more flexibility for all employees (care givers included). Work becomes about outcomes and not the hours clocked. The reality is that caregivers do need the flexibility to provide adequate care for their children (or ill family members).

[bctt tweet=”Adopting a flexible approach to work can negate the effects of bias that working mothers face ” username=”cherralle)”]

Do not make assumptions

An employer should never assume anything because someone is a mother. Example, not awarding someone a new stretch role because she has just returned from maternity leave. It remains key to discuss each assignment with a mother as you would with any other person. Then let the individual advise if there are constraints.

 

Pregnant woman and child

Scheduling main activities after hours on a recurring basis

I accept that we do not live in a fairy tale where every thing happens before 17h00, and in some high pressure environments this is a reality. The point about late meetings links to the point about flexibility. If an environment demands late meetings there should be flexibility to accommodate early days. Then it balances out.

Scheduling key and strategic activities after hours impact working mothers. In my opinion, this is a subtle and gentle way of nudging mothers out of the work force. If a working mother is constantly  (unconsciously) expected to choose between a career and her children, given a choice she will pick her kids. After being constantly placed in this position, women may opt to leave the work force or ‘down scale’ their career.

I am a career committed parent

My approach to my work and life, is being flexible, focused and outcome oriented. My role as a mother is who I am.  I am a career committed parent.

Read further: The Side of Motherhood That We Do Not Post On Instagram

Working mothers are excellent employees in my opinion!

Working mothers are focused, don’t waste time, and drive for results. They know they have a set amount of time within which to work. They are also natural leaders, because they co-lead families, and they have agility. You need agility to be able to deal with everything a parent has to deal with, lack of sleep, tantrums, homework, planning meals, school functions, family projects, and the list goes on.

[bctt tweet=”Allow mothers the space to be mothers. Mothers are excellent employees, they drive for results. ” username=”cherralle_”]

The reality is that most women will end up having children. The reality is that fatherhood is changing, fathers WANT to play a stronger role in the family too. It is time to sit up and take note of this. If we want to create companies and governments with the best leadership talent, we need men and women to lead.

Have you positively disrupted  the maternal wall in your career? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

Featured Image: pixabay

Image: pixabay