The Real Reason Women Are Leaving Your Company

Let’s get this out of the way: The real reason women are leaving your company (and a myriad of others around the world) is not just because they are moms having babies.

Or lack ambition.

In fact, research from the Pew Research Center shows that 57 percent of women surveyed consider ambition to be an essential trait for a leader; while a fully 63 percent of Millennial women and 61 percent of Gen X have the same opinion.

And yet, they are leaving.

As documented in LeanIn’s Women in the Workplace 2017, 17 percent of women are leaving their jobs in mid-career, which, for a company of 500, represent a loss of 85 employees. Those numbers should concern us all.

As I wrote in my book, #WomenAdvance, women hold 85% of the buying power globally, make up over 50 percent of the workforce, and there are three times as many female-owned start-ups as male-owned. Yet, there are still barriers to women who want to rise to the top of today’s most successful corporations.

So, what’s going on?

A survey published by ICEDR finds that women around age 30 cite pay, lack of learning and development, and a shortage of meaningful work as the primary reasons they leave organizations. Not motherhood.

I hear other reasons too, in my women advancement coaching programs. The participants describe having to work harder to get promoted–and fear having to work harder at their job once promoted.

But what they need to do is to work smarter not harder.

And, it’s not that they are less ambitious than men are. In fact, according to a survey from Accenture, “…moms who return to work after having a child are just as ambitious as women without kids–or, in some cases, even more ambitious,” states Maricar Santos, writing for Working Mother.

Women are leaving your company mid-career because they are being paid less, they are not being offered development opportunities to help them move ahead, and they don’t find the work meaningful enough to sustain them. They leave, looking for something better.

Here’s what I would tell you

Understand that, while women may express more comfort in an individual contributor role, they may also be interested in a management or leadership role. Make sure your company offers the right tools for new managers, so it’s not so daunting. And make sure their managers know how to coach them on learning new skills and find the right career path.

Understand that the atmosphere at work might not feel good. If your leadership team is male-dominated, and those males aren’t used to including women, a woman simply may not feel comfortable in the organization as she progresses up the ladder. You may need to consciously develop a strategy to help create more diverse management and leadership teams.

There are companies out there who are doing precisely that. The Miller Heiman Group, for example, has made a significant investment in gender diversity and equality by recently promoting/hiring three executives to the C-Suite. Why is it so significant? Because promoting these women supports diversity and inclusion at the top and sets the example for the whole company.

And finally, you may not necessarily have a hostile environment or an overt discrimination problem, but you may have differences in communications styles. Men and women communicate differently, and this can cause misunderstanding, downtime, and hurt productivity.

You may be able to help by mentoring the men in your organization and showing them how to communicate with women more effectively. If men can start understanding women and move in their direction, too, it’s not such an energy suck.

Women are excited to contribute to your workforce, they work hard, and will be excellent advocates if your company gets it right. Promote diversity. Support inclusion. Win!

A version of this post was first published on Inc.com 

Photo: rawpixel.com from Pexels

Best Practices for Managing Dispersed Teams

dispersed teams

You manage a team of people who are working from multiple locations and time zones. Initially, everything looked really good. You developed the project plan, created timelines, task lists and met with the team to kick the project off.

And it was a really strong start–at first.

But after awhile your team members lost energy, stopped hitting it out of the park and began to miss meetings. And now you’re concerned. You’re looking for solutions, for tips or ideas on how to get the project back on track and manage your dispersed teams successfully.

For someone who is managing a virtual team, this is a familiar story.

Leading a virtual group can present real challenges. Maintaining clear communication, engagement, and focus can be tough. And, for more and more managers this is a daily reality as the number of companies with remote workers continues to grow. “Despite occasional stories of a company ending its remote work program, the long-term trends all show steady growth in the number of people working remotely,” writes Sara Sutton Fell, founder, and CEO of FlexJobs.

According to a recent study published by Upwork.com; globalization, skill specialization, and agile team models will change the workforce in the next ten years. The second annual Future Workforce Report found that 63 percent of companies have remote workers but more than half – 57 percent – lack the policies to support them.

But, as I’ve said before, leaders are discovering innovative ways to rally and connect teams no matter how far away they are from each other. Whether or not actual policies exist, there are best practices for leading a team of remote workers successfully and building a sense of trust, belonging, and commitment to the team, the project, and the organization.

In my workshops about building and leading effective virtual teams, one of our first activities is designed to increase awareness of virtual team characteristics and complexities. We talk about what works well and what must be done to achieve positive results. Over the years I have learned some of the best practices for managing dispersed teams. Let’s a take a look at three of them.

Create Context

As the leader, it’s your job to provide the context for the team. In addition to sharing the project specifications and requirements, you need to paint the big picture for them and bring the importance of their roles to the forefront. Help your employees understand, not only what their roles are, but why they matter–and why each of them benefits individually from being truly engaged in the team goal overall.

While this may sound like Leadership 101, a dispersed team needs help understanding the company’s vision, the purpose of the project, and behind-the-scenes information they miss by working at a distance from the home office. Teams need to know exactly how they are expected to collaborate. Remember, working remotely, while offering fantastic benefits to both employees and organizations, can provoke feelings of isolation and disconnection.

As part of creating context, set clear and measurable performance goals and make sure your team understands how those goals figure into the project and the organization’s plans as a whole.

It’s on you, as their leader, to help the members of the group connect the dots, get to know you and each other and feel like part of a team, working together toward a common purpose.

Communicate, Maybe Even Over-Communicate

Communication is one of the first things to go in a virtual team setting. The inability to read non-verbal clues presents hurdles to dispersed team members that don’t exist for in-person teams. It’s all too easy to misunderstand a text or email because virtual communication lacks the non-verbal clues we get from face-to-face interaction. It’s better when communication is through video chatting tools like Skype or Slack.

Since 55 percent of communication is non-verbal, 38 percent is para-verbal (how you sound), and 7 percent is verbal, removing 93 percent of the context of communication forces a disproportionate dependence onto the verbal spoken word. Also, physical distance can contribute to avoidance of conflict, and it’s easier to default to “dealing with it later” if an exchange was tense or unclear. If you don’t handle a conflict proactively, unresolved negativity can fester.

So set up the ground rules with regular check-ins using a video conferencing tool. And make a point of meeting face-to-face at least once during the project–that contact will increase your team’s productivity by as much as 50 percent. Remember this guideline: Make a point of intentionally connecting with the people on your team three times as often as you do with the people you see spontaneously in the office. This effort will pay off for you in increased engagement and strong connections with each of your team members.

I like to remind people of the ten times rule: phone calls are ten times more effective than email (or text), and face-to-face communication is ten times more effective than a phone call. So just remember, “ten times, ten times, ten times” on the communication front.

Cultivate Community and Respect

We all work better when we feel like we are part of something larger. In addition to creating context, cultivate a feeling of community for your team. Develop a strategy to pull each of the team members into the group and then cement that feeling of community by acknowledging the team’s efforts and celebrating its successes. Work to develop a feeling of trust between you and your team and between the team members themselves. Building trust in virtual teams involves two different types of trust: cognitive (in team members’ heads) and affective (in team members’ hearts.)

Take the time to nurture these new relationships and try to understand what motivates each of your employees to perform well. Ask them what they consider appropriate incentives, and what aspects of the project they find compelling.

Make a point of being accessible to the team, and allow one-on-one time for each of your employees. Be considerate of their obligations, work commitments, and especially the time zones they are working in. Set meetings and calls as thoughtfully as your own schedule allows, and include group meetings on a regular basis as a way of touching base and offering encouragement.

Ask your team for feedback. What works for them? What isn’t working? What can you improve or create differently? If you encourage feedback and listen thoughtfully, not only will you learn important information about your employees and the project, but you may also find new leaders within the group; people you can work with and those you may promote for future leadership roles.

Be respectful of the individual group members and the team as a whole. This feeling of respect and community will go a long way toward building trust, and engagement, from a team that takes pride in delivering top-notch performances.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.com

Photo: Thought Catalog on Unsplash

3 Ways to Know Who You Are as a Global Leader

International Leadership

No matter if you lead in Tokyo, Paris, Moscow, New York, Buenos Aires or Sydney, these are critical questions to answer if you want to make a difference as a leader and stand for something:

1. Who are you as a leader?

2. What is your legacy?

3. What is your impact?

Paul N. Larsen, author of Find Your Voice as a Leader, shared his thoughts on the answers to these questions in this post.

To read the complete article, please click here.

International Leadership

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6 Ways to Make Business Personal — and Why You Should

I often write about differences across cultures but a conversation with Susan Fowler, author of Why Motivation Doesn’t Work and What Does, whose work is to share the science of motivation and the tools for applying it, reminded me that we all share some fundamental commonalities. We want to spend time with family or friends, have fun, and learn or accomplish new things.

Here are 3 ways Susan believes leaders can do a better job of making business personal:

  • They need to help people find meaning in their work.
  • They need to promote values-based behavior.
  • They need to remind people how their work contributes to a greater good.

To read the complete article, including my three additions to Susan’s points, please click here.

Interpersonal Communication

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The Real Reason Why Women Don’t Make it to the C-Suite

Gender Equity

My work with female leaders over the last eight years has revealed that the advancement of women in the workplace is no simple issue. I’ve interviewed more than a hundred female executives, held workshops for more than a thousand, and individually coached many more. These women are based all over the world and have diverse cultural backgrounds.

When I’ve seen women step back from their jobs, go part-time, and even say they’re happy to be where they are, I always question it. Bonnie Marcus, author of The Politics of Promotion, conducted a study, Lost Leaders in the Pipeline (with co-author Lisa Mainiero) that found women do have strong ambition. In fact, in her survey of 615 professional women, 74 percent self-identified as very/extremely ambitious.

Yet, Bonnie says, “Their ambition is not nurtured in the workplace and diminishes mid-career after five to ten years. The assumption has always been that women lack ambition or leave for family reasons, but that’s not necessarily the case. Research shows that more women would remain in the workforce if they had programs and support that enabled them to be successful over the course of their careers. ”

To read my conversation with Bonnie about what companies can do to improve the numbers of women in the C-Suite, please click here to read the entire article!

Gender Equity

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4 Ways to Deal With Difficult Personalities

Business Communication

The other day, I was chatting with Dr. Nate Regier, author of Conflict without Casualties, and I was reminded of a popular debate I had while studying intercultural relations twenty years ago–is our behavior caused by outside influence or genetic make-up? That is, are our personalities a product of nature or nurture?

Continuing our month’s theme of speaking with thought leaders in the consulting space who also work in global and/or cross-cultural contexts about leadership best practices, I explored this question with Nate.

But here are four ways you can reveal the junction when in a difficult conversation or conflict.

1. Consider the cultural norms and values within a particular country context.

2. Consider a person’s individual personality traits.

3. In situations of conflict, seek first to understand the cultural and personality needs, then explore what “content” disagreement still exists.

4. Understand that you may need to adapt your style of communication and motivation to that person’s preference.

 

To read more of our conversation, please click here to read the entire article!

 

Business Communication

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3 Powerful Acts Leaders Drastically Underestimate

Leadership Behaviors

In working around the globe, the one common thread I’ve noticed in organizations is their different values and approaches to hierarchy.

When I spoke with Bill Treasurer, author of the upcoming A Leadership Kick in the Ass, we discussed the drastically undervalued concept of caring:

 

In Steven M.R. Covey’s bestselling book Speed of Trust, he makes the case for trust as a critical, highly relevant, performance multiplier. And according to Covey, “The best motive in building trust is genuinely caring about people.”

Caring is of utmost importance as a leader. It builds trust between you and the people you manage. Thus, leaders need to ask their employees about their personal lives and get to know them as human beings. In short, they need to care.

Bill shared with me a story of a leader at a construction company who came down hard on his team whenever there was a safety violation. He would fire those who were responsible.

The leader’s intent was to make the company safer and to show safety was of utmost importance. But the unintended consequence was the complete opposite. It created an atmosphere of distrust and made people feel they needed to hide near misses.

To address the issue, the company underwent a cultural transformation–when there was a safety breach, instead of the leadership asking, “Who did this?”, they asked, “What went wrong and how do we fix it?” This created an atmosphere of trust where people felt comfortable outing mistakes. And the result was a safer work environment–what the leader wanted all along.

To learn about the other two areas, please click here to read the entire article!

 

Leadership Behaviors

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Don’t Let These Cultural Differences Derail Your Project

Cultural Differences

In today’s globalized business world, there’s a lot of focus on diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias. And there should be. But little attention is being paid to cultural awareness and this a huge mistake.

One area of cultural diversity for you to be aware of that can cause challenges is process-oriented vs results-oriented:

The way we set goals and work to achieve them differs depending on culture.

If a culture is process-oriented, that means they have a carefully thought out plan in place and understand how they are going to achieve the goal before they start moving towards it. If a culture is results-oriented, the plan or even the results may change as they work to achieve them–which is okay because it is all part of a greater vision.

Cultures such as American or Israeli are more results-oriented whereas cultures such as German or Russian are more process-oriented. There are pros and cons to both.

Being a results-oriented business could get results faster but not to the level of quality of a process-oriented organization.

On the flip side, being process-oriented may be more thorough and higher quality, but slower in execution than a results-oriented organization.

To learn about the other two areas, please click here to read the entire article!

 

Cultural Differences

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4 Ways to Bring Spirituality into Business

Work Life Balance

Spirituality and business. These two words seem to be at odds with one another but I want to make the argument that they shouldn’t be.

One way I’ve learned to bring my spiritual self to the workplace is to look at things positively.

Negative thoughts are a cancer and they only bring pain and drain energy. Banish them. Use positive words when talking and if something has gone wrong, analyze what it was and move forward. No one is perfect. Learn to let go of negativity. (Or as my father calls it “stop awfulizing” about things.)

To learn about the other three strategies, please click here to read the entire article!

 

Work Life Balance

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5 Secrets to Acing Your Global Presentation

Public Speaking

Presentations can be stressful and awkward. Throw in presenting to audiences from diverse cultural backgrounds and languages, and the venture is that much more challenging.

One strategy to ace your global presentation is to share a story:

Bring in family and personal experiences that show what you care about and what values you have. This helps humanize you and connect you with the audience. It’s even better if you can discuss scary or surprising details you were able to overcome. These tales are not only interesting; they can be inspiring to your audience.

To learn about the other four strategies, please click here to read the entire article!

 

Public Speaking

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