Toasting at The Office: A Guide to Responsible Drinks in the Workplace

Have you ever been at an office party that’s been limited in its offerings—just drinks, for example? How well has that ended? Probably not well, because post-work with just alcohol is not a great way to be your best at any office event. In fact, any event that is responsible related to work is an event that has food, limits its alcohol, and makes non-alcoholic drinks widely available.

               That’s just one example of putting a good work policy about alcohol into place. And the best way to do that is to put an alcohol policy into place, formally—and to share it with all employees, at multiple times and definitely before any event. And it also means that you have to think about events pretty carefully—planning them and making sure that you are putting policy into practice. What else does a good company policy look like? This graphic explains it.

Introducing: The New Global Manager!

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I’m so excited. I have launched my new book, “The New Global Manager.”

This book has been a labor of love, born out of the conviction that, in today’s new global environment, all managers are now global managers. And global managers must be able to quickly make sense of situations where cultural differences add levels of complication.

Like most managers, you already know that cultural differences are significant when you’re dealing with business partners from other countries. You see what’s happening. You get that today’s marketplace is increasingly global.

But what you may not fully understand is that you need to learn and use global management skills to address these cultural differences—in every interaction you have. And, you may not realize, but you are probably already being judged on how well you are meeting increasingly complex demands.

“The New Global Manager”

As I say in my new book, “culture” is how we describe the norms, perceptions, and values that drive our behavior and that we use to evaluate the behavior of other people. We use the term “cultural differences” to refer to everything from corporate cultures, to differences in religious beliefs, gender orientations, countries of origin, ethnicity— and so much more.

And, when everyone has the same norms, perceptions, and values, interacting with others and doing business is pretty straightforward and easy. But things get more complicated when the people with whom you do business, who are your customers, employees, colleagues, or bosses, have different norms, perceptions, and values.

Why is this?

It goes back to something rooted in human nature. We all make choices based on our cultures; all of the influences that have shaped us. But the people we interact with evaluate our action based on their own cultures, which can create confusion, misunderstanding, and potential problems, at times. Especially in a global business environment.

The pressure on managers is intense. Managers must be able to work and react quickly to this rapidly changing global environment with the challenges inherent in digitalization, new markets, diverse cultural backgrounds.

Whether you are a new global manager or someone who has worked in management for the past twenty years, today you need to be able to quickly make sense of situations where cultural differences add levels of complication. You must learn to recognize, assess, react and solve complicated management situation where diverse styles, personalities, and cultures are in play.

Sound daunting? It doesn’t have to be.

I understand the dynamics at play and want to assure you that there are practical resources available to help you learn to be an effective global manager and work well with culturally diverse customers, teams, colleagues, and bosses. I use a broad range of tools and frameworks that I recommend highly, which help my clients, manage these challenges effectively.

In “The New Global Manager,” I introduce some of those including OAR™, a multi-purpose tool to help you become aware of situations that aren’t working or have suddenly changed, ask questions to help you analyze the situation, and react appropriately. The acronym, OAR, stands for Observe, Ask Questions, React. Using OAR, when someone behaves in a manner that catches you off guard, instead of responding immediately, you stop and observe the situation.

I wrote “The New Global Manager” as a daily resource for managers, to provide practical tools and frameworks like OAR and 4DCulture, and strategies and tips for successfully managing abroad and at home, face-to-face and virtually. Whether you are a new manager or a manager with twenty years of experience, this is the comprehensive resource you’ve been waiting for.

Click here to buy the $.99 electronic version of the “New Global Manager” today. Remember, this is a limited and exclusive offer, so don’t delay!

Let me know what you think after you’ve read it. And please, give me a review on Amazon!

Investing in Women-Led Startups Shows Strong ROI

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Recently I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Allyson Kapin and Craig Newmark about the Women Startup Challenge, an initiative of the nonprofit organization, Women Who Tech. The organization works with talented women breaking new ground in technology to transform the world and inspire change.

As I’ve written in the past, hiring women is smart business. And, women also make exceptional entrepreneurs. I believe that women need to continue to rise to the top in all industries to ensure that we have more open, innovative and thriving organizations.

The Women Startup Challenge Emerging Tech competition featured ten of the best early-stage, women-led Emerging Tech startups, focused on Agriculture, Augmented Reality, Biotech, Health, Energy, IoT, Robotics, and Virtual Reality.

Allyson Kapin is the founder of Women Who Tech and has been named one of the Most Influential Women in Tech by Fast Company. She is also the co-founder of Rad Campaign, a web agency that works with nonprofits to fight the world’s toughest problems, ranging from climate change to health care reform.

Craig Newmark, a member of the Advisory team for Women Who Tech, is the founder of craigslist, the web-based platform that has fundamentally changed classified advertising. Craig is also the founder of Craig Newmark Philanthropies, which works to advance people and organizations that are “getting ‎stuff done” in the areas of women in technology, veterans and military families, ‎trustworthy journalism, and voter protection.

On March 6, 2018, the Women Startup Challenge Emerging Tech finalists pitched their innovative ventures to a panel of tech industry investors on stage at Google, in New York City. The grand prize-winner will be awarded a $50,000 cash grant for her startup. Additional prizes include $280,000 in Google cloud services. Meet the ten women-led startups who were finalists for the sixth cohort.

And, congratulations to the $50,000 Grand Prize winner, 14-year-old Emma Yang, for her “Timeless” app! Emma developed and built Timeless to help people with Alzheimer’s remember events, stay connected and engaged, and recognize people through artificial intelligence-based facial recognition technology.

Melissa: “What inspired you to launch the Women Startup Challenge three years ago?”

Allyson: “We originally created the Women Startup challenge because of the dismal amount of funding available to women-led startups. The latest data shows that less than 2 percent of VC money goes to women-led startups. That number has barely budged in ten years, and we wanted to find a way to shake up this culture and economy that has made it very difficult for women entrepreneurs to access capital.

We’re on a mission to find the best early-stage women-led startups and put capital, mentoring, and resources behind them. I’m happy to report that we’re moving the needle. The startups that have gone through our cohorts have succeeded in collectively raising over $20M.”

Melissa: “And Craig, what inspired you to get involved with the Women Startup Challenge?”

Craig: “One of the first principles that I live by is that I feel that you should treat people like you want to be treated and that means fairness for everyone. You need to give people a break.

I grew up in Jersey, and what people told me is sometimes you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is. Craig Newmark Philanthropies supports the Women Startup Challenge so that people take this extra seriously–and that seems to work.”

Melissa: “It seems as though you have both genders supporting the Women Startup Challenge, so it isn’t just women supporting the Women Startup Challenge, but you have men also supporting it.”

Craig: “That’s why that first principle I think is real important. Treating people like you want to be treated is something we all learn as kids and forget–but now I’m in the process of reminding people, particularly my male peers, to practice what they preach.”

Allyson: “To echo what Craig is saying, and one of the reasons we love working with Craig, is he’s been such an ally to us and to the women in tech community. I think that for us to solve these issues, with the lack of diversity and the lack of funding for women in tech we need male allies at the table.”

Melissa:  “What is it that prevents women from getting funding?”

Allyson: “What we have found through our own research, and other research that validates ours, is that both unconscious and conscious biases play parts in preventing women from getting funding. The gatekeepers of the investor world are primarily men–white men–and they rely on their own networks for warm leads. Investors need to diversify their networks, and we want to help them do that.

Craig: “In plainer terms: Sometimes people don’t get something good when others present it, and we can be real jerks sometimes. That may be too plain of language for you, but that’s the gist of things. Sometimes we’re short of empathy.”

Melissa: Would you say women present themselves, that is, pitch differently than men do?

Craig: I’ve seen some of the pitches, and the results are good, but I think that has to do with the training that Women Who Tech provides on how to give an effective fundraising pitch. You have very little time to pitch investors. The less time you have, the more focused your presentation has to be, and people respect that.”

Allyson: “I don’t see much difference between men and women pitching. But I do think there are unconscious biases that men and even women investors can have that can impact how the pitch is received. A key part of our program is our emphasis on training and coaching for all of the founders who are raising money for their next round.”

Melissa: “What’s the business case for investing in women-led businesses?”

Craig: “The bottom line is that if you invest in a women-led startup, you’re going to make more money. The research shows that women-led startups have a 35 percent higher return on vestment (ROI.) Investors want a better return on investment, so they should go where the return is better.”

Allyson: “This isn’t about charity. There’s a big business case for investing in women-led and racially diverse startups. If investors want to make billions of dollars, they need to start funding more diverse led startups that have game-changing products. And the time to do that is right now because we’re missing out on major innovation by not funding them.”

10 Tips For Pitching Your Start-up Business to Investors

  1. Identify the problem or challenge your product is solving.
  2. Clearly layout how your product is the solution to the challenges you highlighted.
  3. Show traction to date and have a clear go-to-market strategy.
  4. Demonstrate why your team is the one to bring this product to market.
  5. Keep the pitch simple, stupid aka the KISS principle.
  6. Don’t use insider jargon that investors won’t easily understand.
  7. Know your financials backward and forward.
  8. Highlight what the funding will be used for and how you will use it to scale.
  9. Condense your pitch. You will have only minutes to make your case.
  10. Work with a coach to prep for your investor pitching opportunity.

I look forward to seeing continued greatness from Women Who Tech in the future! And if you’re looking to start a business, I offer an impactful coaching program for female entrepreneurs. Contact me.

A version of this post originally published on Inc.com.

Image Credit: Pexels.com

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Lamson is the CEO of Lamson Consulting, Founder of the highly popular leadership program for women, Advancement Strategies for Women, and creator of award-winning management programs for SpaceX, LinkedIn, and SAP. As an author, consultant, and speaker, Melissa accelerates the business expansion goals of today’s most successful companies by growing leaders, bridging cultures, and empowering teams.  More About Melissa Lamson

#WorkTrends Recap: Helping Men Become Allies in the #MeToo Era

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Note: I was honored to be interviewed by Meghan M. Biro, of TalentCulture, for her #WorkTrends podcast recently. We discussed the importance of helping men become allies to women in the workplace. This post is republished with Meghan’s permission.

In the age of #MeToo, how are we creating equitable workplaces for women?

This week’s #WorkTrends guest, Melissa Lamson, has been working on this cause for years. She is CEO of Lamson Consulting, founder of a popular leadership program for women and has consulted on management for companies like Space X, LinkedIn, and SAP.

She shared how men can proactively work to understand how the sexes communicate differently, and how they can work with women to build a more diverse culture at work.

Listen to the full podcast below, or keep reading for highlights from our conversation.

Gender Parity Requires Work from Women and Men

“If men and women don’t work together in organizations, they really won’t achieve gender parity,” Lamson says. “There has been a lot of emphasis on what women need to do to advance their own careers — networking, mentoring, training programs. The onus has been on women to support their own development.” But, she says, women can only go so far in creating more gender balance at the top of organizations. Companies need to enlist men to support this goal.

Most men are happy to contribute when they realize what’s at stake, she says. “I don’t believe that most men intentionally keep women from advancing today, but they don’t know what they necessarily could be doing to help.” So, she’s worked with companies to develop workshops for men. Through those workshops, some men say they realize their KPIs were gender biased, or that they never knew what women on their team wanted. Opening a conversation between women and men in the workplace is a good place to start.

Men Often Don’t Perceive the Problems

Lamson says that the men in her workshops often have no idea that their behavior or language could be perceived as hurtful or even sexist. “When men have a conversation, they will do that in a really competitive way. That’s normal; they’ll challenge each other and interrupt each other. If they do this with women, it’s perceived as being disrespectful, and they get labeled as unsupportive.”

But Lamson says that’s not what most men want. “In my experience, men really want to be a hero. In my workshop, men will literally start writing down everything I’m saying. They’ll ask for exact phrases they can use with women to show support. They want to make women happy at work. They want to promote them; they want to work with them on teams and collaborate with them. They just literally don’t understand that there’s an issue.”

But, after her trainings, most men start to understand what their female colleagues are facing at work. They buy into the idea that we’ve all been socialized to see things in certain ways — and we can do some things differently to collaborate at work more effectively.

Understand Different Communication Styles

In her workshops, Lamson teaches about five communication differences between men and women. While everyone is, of course, different, she’s learned that some gender stereotypes often ring true for many groups, and understanding these can help teams learn how to work with one another better. She calls one of these communication differences “Status-First Recognition.”

“The research shows that men seek first and foremost to be seen as the more important and powerful. In contrast, women seek recognition, reward, and appreciation. So, they want to be appreciated for a job well done and all the hard work that they’re doing.”

Those different motivations lead to gendered behaviors that can leave us at a mismatch. For example, women will thank men a lot. They’ll say, “Thanks so much, we really appreciate it.” Behind closed doors, women will tell you they’re trying to stroke men’s egos. But that doesn’t actually work with men, Lamson says. They don’t want to be thanked — they want to feel important and powerful.

On the other hand, men will interpret a female coworker’s silence as a non-problem, when resentment could actually be brewing. “Men assume that women are totally fine and feeling good about working with them unless they express that they’re not. That’s not a correct assumption.”

She gives groups this tip: If a man and a woman are talking in a meeting and the woman suddenly gets quiet, a man should notice that and start re-engaging her by asking questions.

“Men aren’t programmed to ask as many questions,” she says. “But if they can pivot and start asking questions, they’ll get the engagement back on track.”

Gender Diversity Drives Business Results

Lamson points to research from McKinseyCatalyst, and others that having more gender balance in an organization, especially at the top, actually affects the bottom line positively.

Catalyst research found that companies with the highest representation of women on their top management teams experienced better financial performance than companies with the lowest women’s representation.

But that doesn’t just mean adding one woman to an all-male board. Research shows that when one woman joins a group of men, she’ll adapt her style to theirs. When two women join, there still isn’t a substantial change in the group. But when there are three women, they have the power of a group — and will influence change.

Success Strategies for Global Expansion: Including Hot Markets in 2018

Global Expansion: I’ve seen too many companies go at it the hard way. They decide they’re going to expand globally and then try to go it alone. They don’t start by trying to find out what they don’t know. They don’t look at how other companies succeeded and failed. You can save yourself a lot of agony if you learn from the experience of others.

IKEA is an excellent example of a rocky start to expansion. When IKEA first entered the United States in 1986, people loved the design of the furniture but felt it was too tiny for American living spaces. IKEA’s (literally) one-size-fits-all approach, which works well throughout Europe, needed to be adapted in the US market, which wasn’t as easy as it might sound.

IKEA redesigned the furniture, but then it also had to reimagine the warehouses where the furniture would be stored and the retail spaces where it would be sold. Everything had to get bigger.

IKEA made a mistake many companies make: It thought that what worked in one country or culture would translate to another one easily.

Executives must start by asking and answering two vital questions as they form their expansion plans:

  1. What kinds of markets make sense for us?

What are the characteristics of markets where we’re more likely to be successful? Further in, I’ll give you a list of things to consider, but the fundamental question will stay the same. Analyze your company, with your strengths and weaknesses and experience. Consider your strategy. Then look for markets where you’re more likely to succeed.

  1. What’s a reasonable level of risk and reward for us?

Companies have different tolerances for risk. They have different expectations of reasonable Return On Investment (ROI). And remember that for most global expansions you should expect ROI to increase as you do businesses successfully in a new country.

Here are a few of the hottest markets to consider in 2018:

Malaysia

Singapore is still a booming market, but its less well-known neighbor, Malaysia, has been named the number one place to invest by US News Report. Real estate opportunities abound, and there is well-educated, multi-lingual, workforce. Additionally, the government is foreign investment-friendly creating incentives and eliminating barriers to doing business there.

The Czech Republic

$125 billion has been invested in the Czech Republic over the last 20 years. The government offers training and job-creation grants, and the workforce is young, dynamic, and multilingual. Many tech companies are expanding there, too.

Sub-Saharan Africa

If you’re looking for moon-shot growth potential — and have a huge appetite for risk — then an attractive area might be the countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is abundantly rich in commodities such as oil, natural gas, copper, iron ore, and gold. Governments are becoming more stable. And, the area has the youngest workforce in the world.

More Traditional Markets

Many companies are still expanding to cities in what we consider traditional markets: Ireland, Denmark, and Canada. These are markets are “easy” in that they hold more available and modern infrastructure, and there are large, hungry talent pools.

And, of course, there is the United States, which is still the world’s largest economy. In my book, Market Entry in the US: Why European Companies Fail and How You Can Succeed, my co-author, Ralf Drews, and I connect the buying psychology driven by American beliefs and values with a company’s go-to-market strategy. Remember: The cultural values of a particular country and region have a profound impact on the business environment.

As you consider global expansion for your organization, bear in mind: The “hot” market of today won’t stay that way forever. You have to decide if the market is right for you. You should analyze several critical issues for every market you consider.

Take these actions first before expanding globally:

Do your due diligence and market research.

Use all the sources and all the tools at your disposal to learn as much as you can about yourself, your company, and the market you’re considering.

Travel to the location to which you’re expanding.

 Reading is not enough. Video helps but isn’t sufficient. You won’t get a real feel for the place you’re considering unless you go and spend some time. And, when you do go, don’t just talk to other businesspeople who are staying at your hotel. Get out and spend time with local people and listen to how they describe their country and its business climate.

Do something different.

I don’t know what that will be for you, but you will. Make it something beyond what we’ve talked about here. Come up with a way that is uniquely yours to learn more about the country where your company may expand. Only you can come up with something that fits your style, your organization’s corporate culture, and helps you understand this new country and its culture.

Have questions about planning global expansion for your company? Here are some additional ideas. Need more? Contact me.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Image Credit: https://www.pexels.com

Women, Don’t Be Too Busy to Lead!

Three Ways Women Can Rise to the Challenge of Leadership

In her speech at The 2018 Golden Globes, Oprah said that things are changing. Girls have more women role models, and there are more examples of leadership to follow. Actors like Reese Witherspoon and Elizabeth Banks have created and head film production companies, knowing that their roles are limited if they leave up the casting and directing up to others. Michelle Williams brought #MeToo founder, Tarana Burke, with her to The Golden Globes, and Meryl Streep brought Ai-Jen Poo, the founder of The National Domestic Workers Alliance. Geena Davis heads an institute focused on gender bias in the media, continually reminding us where our blind spots are with regards to gender equality.

After hearing the powerful messages delivered around the world by leading women in Hollywood last week, I believe we’ve turned a corner on gender equality. The issues are out, they’re being talked about, women and men are taking action. Hollywood has been turned on its head, and I think other industries will follow.

Don‘t be too busy for leadership. Women leaders work hard. We are perfectionists. We believe the value we bring is in a job well done–that is when we’ve led our employees to complete their tasks efficiently and effectively. We even work alongside our teams. And those are all excellent qualities.

The problem is, many men approach work differently. Male leaders will spend more time delegating, networking, self-promoting, making deals. They are hard-wired to think more high-level. They don’t mess with the nitty-gritty as much, trusting others to get it done. And if a task is only 80 percent complete, they see it as better to move on than waste a lot of time and energy on it.

Men see women who are very busy, who stay in the weeds, striving for perfectionism, taking on projects that are for the good of the team or company instead of their immediate sphere of influence (or themselves!) as… I don’t know how else to say it… “icky.”

In my workshops on gender balance in leadership, men tell me that they don’t understand why women are so “hectic” and “busy.” One man actually said, “She kept her head down in her laptop so much I didn’t even know she wanted a promotion!”

Always be looking for opportunities. I hear from many women that they are simply too busy to look for opportunities. Too busy to network, too busy to look at job boards, too busy for social media… This has to change! We have to get our heads out of our laptops and start making time to network. We have to think about what we want in our careers, decide on it, and start asking for it. We have to create and use every coffee corner, company event, meeting with our boss, or extended team as an opportunity to let people know who we are and what we want. Now, I know that may sound “icky” to some women. But the truth is,

If we don’t promote our own self-interest, we can’t truly promote our team or organization

So keep your head up and look around, that’s where the leadership roles lie.

Ask for more money. Recently, I was chatting on a plane with a CEO of a construction company. Using the opportunity to do some research, I asked him what he sees as a big difference between men and women in the workplace. He said, “Men ask me for more money, women don’t.” He went on to say, “I always give them [the men] more money just because they asked me. It might not be all of what they want, but at least 50 percent.” I then asked, “So if women don’t ask you for more money, what does that mean to you?” Without skipping a beat, he said, “They’re not leadership material. If they can’t advocate for themselves, they can’t advocate for the company.”

I shouldn’t have been stunned, but I was. It made total sense.

Advocacy. That’s really what Hollywood said at The Golden Globes, and what the #TimesUp movement is all about, and what I’m saying here.  As women, if we don’t advocate for ourselves, and our own self-interest, if we don’t strive for more leadership roles, we can’t make the change that’s needed. So go for it, whatever “it” is.

If your head is up, you can see it.

For more on my coaching program exclusively for women leaders, click here.

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

8 Ways Women Can Win the Game

businessmen and women

Men and women “play” differently in the workplace. By knowing how to use different leadership styles, women can win the game.

Women–how many times has this happened to you? You’re sharing an idea in a meeting when suddenly you’re cut off–by a man.

According to participants in my women advancement workshops, it happens A LOT. The women view this behavior as a sign of disrespect and obliviousness where the men think it’s reasonable behavior and healthy competition.

This is one of many ways in which men and women “play” differently at work. And, these different styles can create friction and hold women back. But, if women learn the game and switch their leadership styles when necessary, we may be able to start taking up more space in the C-suite.

Here are eight ways women can play like women and win like men:

Pat yourself on the back.

A lot of women feel uncomfortable drawing attention to their accomplishments. They’ll say “we” when it’s really “I” or say nothing at all.

Gail Evans, the author of Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman, says because the workplace is run by a game where winning is the apparent objective, self-promotion is a way to show power. She advises not to be afraid to toot your own horn. If you don’t, no one else will.

Don’t be afraid to say “no.”

Men often have no qualms about turning down a project while women take on more and more.

Many women fear saying “no” is a sign of weakness–a sign that they can’t hack it. But Christopher Flett, author of What Men Don’t Tell Women About Business, says it is exactly the opposite. He says, “No-one promotes a ‘pile-on'”–a term he uses for someone who takes on more and more, never saying “no.”

I advise the women in my workshops that it’s okay to prioritize. “Work less and get promoted” is the statement I use over and over again. It’s getting women to think differently.

Speak up.

In the new book The Influence Effect, released this week, the authors from coaching firm Flynn Heath Holt reveal research that shows about half of women have significant difficulty inserting themselves into crucial meeting discussions. That’s while half of men say the most important thing women should address in meetings is being more confident and direct, less equivocal and apologetic.

Not speaking up in meetings is a tremendous missed opportunity to sell your ideas and yourself. Don’t be cowed by louder or more aggressive colleagues, or wait to be invited into the conversation. Force yourself to speak up more and defend your point of view. The authors of The Influence Effect share this advice–arrive early, speak early and ask questions.

Be confident.

In The Confidence Code, co-author Katty Kay says that research shows confidence is more important than competence–and women tend to focus firmly on the latter.

Don’t be afraid to take on something new and then figure it out. See it as an opportunity for growth–and believe that you can do it, even if you’ve never done it before.

Get to the point.

Men are generally conditioned to act, and so their communication style tends to be more solution-oriented and to the point. When communicating with men, women should aim to be succinct, direct and use declarative statements as opposed to finishing sentences with question marks.

Be specific with feedback.

If you’re leading men or collaborating with them, be specific in your directions–and especially your criticism.

Many men are hard-wired to let criticism roll off them. Rather than generalities, offer specific action items for them to act on.

Hit the water cooler.

The women at Flynn Heath Holt see “networking” or “schmoozing” as using the “power of the informal.” That means women can gain influence by working behind the scenes and using informal networks to strengthen relationships and get the support they need.

So, circulate the office or stay late at a meeting to find common ground with your male colleagues–talk about your kids or mutual interest in movies. This bond will extend to your working relationship and help you in the long run.

Don’t take things personally.

Because men and women communicate differently, often men’s way of doing things can be off-putting to women.

Remember that men aren’t likely trying to insult, offend or alienate you. And if they are, it’s even more important to put it back on them. You can use it as a coaching moment for yourself–and for them.

Working across gender in the workplace is more of an art than a science, but knowing these gender differences may quell some misunderstandings and even help more women get into the C-suite.

A version of the post was first published on Inc.

How to be a Good Ally to Women at Work

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As the #MeToo movement grows in strength, it seems there just might be a silver lining to the Harvey Weinstein scandal. We have a chance to change workplace culture. And one of the places to start is for men to understand the need to be a good ally to women.

The list of women who say they were harassed by film studio exec Harvey Weinstein is astonishing long–and growing by the day.  And sadly, much-admired men, like Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Russell Crowe, are being criticized for standing by and allowing–or even aiding in–Weinstein’s cover-up.

This has precipitated an important discussion on just how many women in the workplace (and life) suffer in silence. And, I believe this discussion of these atrocities has a silver lining.

Through awareness and speaking out, we–men and women–now have an opportunity to change society and workplace culture for the better radically. Men, specifically, can be allies to women.

Men? Here are seven ways you can help.

1. Listen. Listen. LISTEN.

Have you ever been in a conversation where it seems like the other person isn’t getting the message you’re sending? They are on their phone or going completely off topic. It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

We all need to work on our active listening skills–that is, those skills that help you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words a person is saying but try to understand the complete message being sent.

Repeat what’s being said. Ask clarifying questions. And, be patient even if the person could get to the point faster.

2. Learn how the other sex communicates.

Yes, it’s true. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus–at least in how we communicate. The sexes do it quite differently. For example, men have been socialized to take risks quicker. Many women need to formulate a plan and talk through their decisions to feel reassured before they leap.

If a female colleague is feeling uncertain about a decision or task, hear her out and reassure her.

3. Tell them a job well done.

It always feels good to hear when you’ve done something well, but this is especially true when you may feel subpar as compared to your male colleagues.

Call out your female team members’ good qualities. Tell them when they made a good point in a meeting or aced a presentation.

But, stay away from commenting on appearance or dress. That can be taken the wrong way!

4. Don’t underestimate.

2015 study found that one in three women have been sexually harassed. Now with allegations coming to light from scandals like Bill Cosby or Roger Ailes, this statistic is becoming more believable.

Don’t underestimate what women have gone through to get where they are. There’s a good chance they’ve been treated poorly just because of their sex.

Take them seriously and treat them as equals. And, understand that women may be suspicious of your behavior because of past treatment. Be aware of how you act and how it may be received.

5. Be inclusive.

Here’s a news flash. Not everyone likes to play golf.

Women might prefer to bond doing something else–a wine tasting or a 10k run, for instance. When planning an outing, think about if everyone will feel comfortable and included, but don’t assume. If you are going to play golf or any sport, be sure to invite your female counterparts, too.

6. Think before you ask.

There’s a salient point made in The Confidence Code about the difference in the way men and women ask for things–in that, many men see asking as being weak and instead make demands. But women view asking as a way to foster goodwill.

Men, bear this in mind. Use collaborative speak. Don’t forgo niceties. If you do, you’ll be seen as selfish and pompous–and far from being an ally.

7. Speak up.

Should you observe a woman being treated poorly, demeaned, or harassed in any way shape or form, support her. Encourage her to go to human resources.Offer to go with her and share what you’ve seen. Don’t be afraid to speak up and make your work environment one that is welcoming and inclusive. Be a good ally to women in your workplace.

If there is any positive to the atrocities that have come to light from the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and all the others, it is that they are now in the open. We–men and women–are on the precipice to change what’s gone on for way too long.

If you need help with understanding how to be an ally for women, or if you are a woman who is interested in advancing her career, contact me.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Image: cafuego, CC 2.0 

4 Ways Good Managers Handle Conflict

When Ann Coulter went to Twitter to share her outrage at Delta Airlines for changing her pre-booked seat, Delta fired back, and a fiery conflict ensued.

Was this the best way to handle conflict? Maybe, if you want a bunch of bad press.

However, when it comes to managing a team, bad PR is the last thing you want. You need productivity, efficiency, and results.

Here are four easy ways to handle conflict, so you never have to deal with the stress of it again.

1. Get drinks or go for a walk.

When you’re putting together a team, the first order of business is to bond. Spend time together and get to know each other on a personal level. Because, when you build relationships, you build a strong foundation of trust so that when conflicts inevitably arise, you’re equipped to handle them.

2. Assume the worst.

Know that conflict is going to happen. It will. So prepare by establishing strategies for how you’re going to work through them. Some teams I work with bring in a third-party to mediate disagreements and handle conflicts.

Other teams have set times on a regular basis to air issues. Others have managers that tell team members to bring them the big problems if they can’t figure it out amongst themselves.

3. Poke the bear.

This may sound a little nutty, but teams actually want conflict. That’s because a difference of ideas and opinions is often a catalyst for growth. The enemy of innovation is groupthink.

So, aim to surface conflict by asking provocative questions such as, “what are three things you’re unhappy with?” or “what’s the worst idea this group has ever come up with?”

Then, facilitate the conversation in a productive manner in which you break the team into small groups, talk about issues, report them out, and then find solutions together.

If you can’t do this successfully, consider using an outside facilitator.

4. Don’t ignore it.

If a situation starts to get heated, don’t shy away from it. Dive right in and address the problem directly. Put in play the conflict management strategies you previously outlined. Bring the parties together, have them discuss the situation, and then challenge them to solve the problem.

Give your team a clear reminder of its overall goal, everyone’s role in contributing to that goal, and how members benefit individually. This will help keep the conversation productive.

When addressing conflict, many people aren’t equipped with the right way to do so. They are overcome with fear of offending someone or being vulnerable. Many people are too nice, and others just explode. But really, it’s a question of semantics.

To help, here are some phrases you can use to jumpstart a constructive conversation:

  • From my perspective, I see it as X.
  • You’re right about X. However, to address X, we need to Y.
  • It seems like things aren’t running as smoothly as they could and I would like to discuss this with you.
  • We may have a misunderstanding, so, I want to be clear on where I stand.

It’s also essential to address conflict directly, face-to-face when possible (as opposed to over email, text or phone), and have measurable objectives that give a backbone to your point of view.

Diverse cultures may handle conflicts differently, using other strategies or words. You may need to adapt your style or language. But my advice is still the same, address conflict head-on before it becomes a crisis. And, if you need help dealing with conflict in your company, contact me.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo credit: Wavebreakmediamicro/123RF

 

The Positives of Having an Explosive Bully Boss

image-of-bullied-woman

The fiery feud between MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough, and President Donald Trump was disturbing. Complete with name-calling, accusations of plastic surgery, Twitter sparring, and op-eds, it’s perhaps one of the most public examples of bullying in history.

Sadly, many of us can relate. Bullies are everywhere–in schools, behind computer screens, and in our workplaces. A few of my friends and colleagues struggle with an explosive bully boss or colleague–someone who calls them names in meetings, tells them their ideas are dumb and makes inappropriate comments that border on sexual harassment.

I wish bullying didn’t occur anywhere, but especially at work. The U.S. employee spends an average of 47 hours a week at work. That’s a good part of our lives and we should spend it in a positive and productive environment.

However, if you are the victim of bullying–there may be an upside. Consider these points:

It can elevate your image.

If you happen to be in a situation where your bullying is made public, like in Joe and Mika’s case, then, pretty much no matter what your response, it will be heralded as nicer, smarter, even more eloquent than your bully’s actions.

People will want to side with you and thus they will look at you through a more favorable lens.

It can give you a platform.

With this attention, then you automatically have a sympathetic and captive audience.

People will be expecting a response from you. Thus being bullied can create an opportunity for you to champion a cause or send a powerful message–like the need to stop bullies in their tracks.

You can set an example for others who are being bullied and help them to turn their situation around, too.

It can make you a better person.

In a lot of cases being bullied can make you more empathetic and can raise your emotional IQ. Traumatic events can even make you stronger. It can give you grit. Many people use them as motivation to persevere and pursue their dreams or goals of being a better person or achieving success.

It isn’t always the case that bullying gets revealed and made public. In a way, Mika and Joe have it easier that way.

I understand how serious an issue bullying is and how difficult it can be for someone experiencing this awful and paralyzing situation in the workplace.

My advice to those who are being bullied and need help? Try these three tactics. And, if you feel like you need more help, or would benefit from some individual coaching, contact me.

1. Get talking.

Go to human resources, your in-house health department or someone you trust, and talk with them about the situation. Learn their policies in handling it and discuss options to diffuse or eliminate it.

2. Start writing.

Start documenting incidents. And, formulate a firm yet emotionally neutral request verbally and in writing to the bully asking them to stop. Ensure that you have follow up, and be sure to record their response. Documentation will be the first thing HR or legal asks you for.

3. Get moving.

If all else fails and you feel like you can’t manage the situation, get out. Don’t let an explosive bully boss knock your self-esteem. Utilize your network to find another, better position or project. I don’t mean to say run away but if you are miserable where you are, then there’s no need to tough it out. Something better is out there.

A version of this post was first published on Inc. 

Image: L’Échappée Volée, CC 2.0