Monday, December 2, 2019

How to be a successful protégé? Make the most of your coaching

Over the last 3 years we have trained and coached 1000s of women at mid to senior levels. 

Here are our insights on what successful protégés do to make the most of the coaching relationship and opportunity.

1. Have Clear Career Aspirations: Protégés who know what they want from their careers, let their aspirations drive the coaching relationship and actions. If they start the coaching relationship without clear career aspirations, they are quick to define aspirations and path for themselves. They are clear about what to focus on. What to do, achieve, and showcase to get that bigger / enhanced role. They take charge of the coaching process, understanding that the onus of the success of the relationship rests with them. 

2. Put Career Front and Center: Successful protégés prioritise the time and effort needed for self development, learning, actions, and meetings. They view this as an investment. Many have honed their skills of pushing back and saying "no", because they have had to say it more than once to ensure they can attend sessions or  complete committed actions. Coaching sessions are not seen as one more thing to add to a packed day but something that is critical enough to clear calendars, objections, obstacles. Many have shared that the more of this they do, the more time they have.
    3. Perfect Project Management:  Protégés who make the most progress, growing faster than planned, complete actions. These women apply strict project management principles and practices to define outcomes and  actions needed to reach those outcomes. They not only complete actions but also report out progress - good, bad, and ugly. When they get stuck, they look for other options, ask for resources, move non-critical activities. And they are regular.

    4. Aren't Deterred by Failures: Failures did cause some protégés tear up and cry. Sometimes it was sadness, sometimes it was frustration. But each time they got back on the horse, so to say, and found a path with fewer hurdles and barricades. They realise that to get what they want, they need to try another approach. One even told me that she was so much more determined that she was like an earth mover that pushed the sh** aside.

    5. Create Own Path: These protégés did not expect me, as their coach, to tell them what to do (as many protégés often do). They weigh the responses to the open ended questions, that they ask. Of course, they want to know what worked for me and I had to be careful, as what works for me does not and may not work for them. I have learned so much from them - their questions, reactions, decisions, and decision making process.

    6. Use Technology to your Advantage: By this I don't mean use Skype or Google Hangouts for coaching conversations. Protégés used WhatApp, voicemails, emails, social media, blogs, etc  to talk about their personal growth, challenges, struggles, ask questions, seek information, find options and alternatives. They learned how to build & leverage relationships from remote locations.

    7. Ask for Help: Protégés did not shy away from seeking help. They recognised when they need it and they actively sought it. Not just from their coach but from their network. A protégé once called me 3 hours before a critical and tough customer meeting (one that had all the signs of being a bloodbath) because she was feeling under confident and unsure of reaching the outcome she wanted. She needed a boost. Asked for it. She got one. And came back with more than just commitments to revitalise the project.

    8. Pull as You Climb: I was most impressed by the protégés who started to actively coach others and incorporate their learning from these coaching / mentoring engagements into their own career and self development. I was amazed by how well they thought thru' whom to coach, how to help their protégés define and set the pace, set up their protégés for success. They were sponges that soaked up experiences, incidents, stories, skills and brought them out when needed.

    9. Practice Reflective Thinking: Without being told about reflective thinking, I found that protégés who did the best were the ones who were able to take a step back, remove themselves from the situation / challenge to look at and understand the context, need, drivers, implications. They focused on the bigger picture and where they fit in it. They let the bigger picture drive what they wanted to do / could do / had to do.

    10. Show Gratitude: The best protégés did not take coaching for granted. They showed that they understood the value of the investment in time, money, effort that the organization and coaches put in. And they put an even higher value on all the effort they have to put in to grow their careers. They realise that they have to do all the heavy lifting to grow - do more, do things better, achieve more. They are grateful in action not words.
      --- These insights are based on training & coaching 1000s of women by Diversity Dialogs
      To contact us, click here

      Monday, November 18, 2019

      9 things to do, to get the role you want

      I am tired of hearing that women are still being told, "dress for the role you want, and you will get it." They are being taught that Executive Presence means being able to make impactful presentations (read as "ppt skills") and wearing executive-like clothes i.e. skirt or pant suits.

      How naive do they think women are? How long will women be evaluated based on how they look and what they wear?

      Here's my advice to get promoted or get an expanded role. These apply to men and women, but am addressing women more, thru this post.

      1. Define and articulate your career aspirations. A 3plus Survey I recently read showed that 83% of men vs 16% of women have clear articulated career plans. If you don't know where you want to go and how you want to get there, you will stay stationary, or just "grow with the flow", as I call it. Works perfectly well in a growing economy / industry and at lower management levels. It is a disaster after that.
      2. Superb performance is a basic requirement. It is rare that you will get promoted when your performance places you at the bottom of the heap. So, if you want a promotion or an expanded role or even a role change to something that's not a conventional move, you are going to have to perform well & be acknowledged for it. Don't forget, superb performance also includes doing something out of the ordinary, something impactful. Beating your goals is not enough. You gotta go beyond. Read about Nadia Comaneci's record breaking perfect 10 in the 1976 Olympics, for inspiration.

      3. Ask for the change. Stop hinting. Stop assuming that there is someone with a crystal ball and wand. That they will miraculously divine your career ambitions and give it to you. Ask for the role you want and state what you are willing to do to shine in the role (keeping it all in line with your articulated career aspirations). Keeping quiet makes you forgettable. And being forgotten never got anyone the role they wanted.

      4. Do the next level job, don't wait to be promoted. Waiting to be promoted to show your leadership ability, influence and action only enables someone else to get that role you coveted. Work at the next level. Do some portions of the next level job you want. Do it well. Make it a no-brainer for your supervisor / the promotion panel to formally give you the role you want. Do the job first, the promotion will follow soon.

      5. Have more than one successor in place. Because organizations want & need the abundance of choice when it comes to good talent. Successors showcase you as a leader who develops other leaders. Not just a leader who creates another leader. Each-on-make-one does not help build organization and leadership capacity.
      Having successors in place pushes you to look for a bigger job for yourself. It also ensures that the organisation looks for roles for you. After all, you are a superb performer, have clearly articulated your career aspirations, are working at the next level, and you build leaders as you grow.

      Sunday, May 13, 2018

      Mother's Day 2018: Fight the Motherhood Wall & Mommy Penalty

      As we all celebrate Mother's Day, let's take a few minutes to understand what it can mean to be a working mother. Many mothers want to pursue careers and raise their children. They should not have to face discrimination or be penalized for wanting to do both and do them well. 
      In reality the Maternal Wall and Mommy Penalty are unfairly pushing women out of the workforce. 

      Biases, Stereotypes, and Myths

      Women face many biases, stereotypes, and myths around motherhood. Some of the most common ones are:

      • "Mothers put in less effort at work than fathers and non-parents". Not true. Most mothers I know, work harder because they know that any small infraction, that would earlier have been overlooked, will now be attributed to their pregnancy or motherhood
      • "Mothers can not be dedicated employees". This belief stems from the myth that a mother can not focus 100% on her job when she needs to focus 100% on her role as a mother. Yet this belief does not seem to hold water when asking if men can focus on the job while being fathers, or can employees of any gender focus on their jobs when looking after an ailing partner or family member. 
      • "Working mothers are not “nurturing” mothers". A clear bias based on thousands of years of women being seen as the "child bearers and nurturers". Mothers are as much nurtures as fathers are. And working does not take away from anyone's ability to nurture. Research has found that children of working mothers are more independent, flexible and creative. So, why penalize the working mom?  
      • Related to this is the myth that "Mothers can’t be tough task masters". Underlying this belief is the belief that all mothers are more nurturers than anything else. It's like women have a "nurturer" switch that gets flipped "on" permanently, as soon as a woman gets pregnant.
      • "I can't manage work if a woman takes 6 months maternity leave. Lets not hire her". The six-month maternity leave law has created issues. In the minds of many operating managers, men and women, this is six months of productivity lost with no help, support, or guidelines on contracting part time staff, or maintaining bench strength. So why hire someone who may proceed on leave.

      The Mommy Penalty

      The impact of these biases, stereotypes and myths lead to what is called the Mommy Penalty.
      • Mothers are 79% less likely to be hired; 50% less likely to be promoted
      • Fathers get ~6% pay hike while mothers get ~4% reduction in pay
      Add to this the fact that mothers are often resented for special treatment by non-mothers (men and women). Maternity leave may be seen and talked about as vacation. Flexible work options like work-from-home are discouraged it is taken to mean work-for-home. If flexible options are accessible by only mothers, it creates a divide between moms and non-moms. In the same way, companies that have creche facilities only for their women employees alienate the fathers, and mothers bear the brunt of this alienation.

      The Motherhood Wall and Mommy Penalty often drives women to leave work.

      What can you do?

      1. Just reading this blog post and recognizing that you may have a bias is a great first step. 
      2. Next time when you see a bias at play, raise your voice. Whether are home or at work.
      3. If your company has restrictive policies, advocate for change with the policy makers and not just HR.
      4. Read research on how motherhood positively impacts women's ability to work and perform better. Quote data.