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The Sticky Floors: Your Questions Answered

by Becky Shambaugh

This month, SHAMBAUGH conducted its first live webinar on The Sticky Floors, the self-limiting behaviors and assumptions identified in my book It’s Not A Glass Ceiling, It’s A Sticky Floor. This highly successful webinar will be followed by a series of Sticky Floor Webinars starting in September! 

The first webinar, which I led, resulted in a very lively discussion. Below are answers to some of the questions I was not able to respond to during that one-hour interactive session. 

Question: How do you "jump to the next level" when your direct manager is not being your advocate, somewhat unavailable, etc? 

Becky: While it helps if your manager is your advocate, it’s not essential. This is where your strategic network makes a difference and knowing how to leverage it is key. It starts first with having a clear goal and a solid plan. What is that “ideal job” you aspire to in terms of getting to the next level? Write down your strengths in this new role as well as gaps or areas where you need experience, exposure, development and potential mentoring. 

Once you have that all down then think of individuals who might be key stakeholders or influencers that are, or can be, part of your strategic network. Who can help you to attain that job or provide mentoring and exposure that would support you in gaining the skills and experience you need? Think broad and diverse. Don’t shy away from asking someone you think may not have time for you or may not be able to help you. For one thing, they may feel honored or flattered to support you. And if that individual can’t help you, they may know of someone else who can. The value of a broad and diverse spectrum of relationships is that you now have a greater web of relationships based on the additional connections you create by entering someone else’s network. 

Once you have identified those who can help you, be intentional when you reach out to them. In other words, let them know what your goals are and how they can help you. The clearer you are with them, the greater likelihood they will respond and be wiling to support you. 

And finally, be sure to keep your boss in the loop. Tell him or her what your goals are and solicit input. If there is something you’d like your boss to do for you, consider asking for it! While your boss might not be an active advocate, they also can’t be expected to read your mind. And, once you put your ideas out there, your boss will, at some level, become more engaged just out of the awareness of your goals and plan. 

For more information, refer to Chapter 6, Forming Your Own Board of Directors, in my book It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor.

 

Question: What if your company's processes limit your ability to ask for promotions or increase in pay?  

Becky: First of all, you need to know your value and rationale for a promotion or increase in pay. Do your homework and never set your expectations lower than what you deserve. Secondly, know that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And don’t assume that even though your company policies might limit promotions or pay increases, you can’t ask for what you want and deserve. It’s all in what you ask, how you ask and when. 

Here are some tips:

  • Do your research. Know your value inside and outside of your organization. What is the marketplace paying for your job? What results have you achieved that are deserving of an increase in pay or a promotion?
  • Prepare to have the conversation.
    - Define your ultimate goal, your most desired outcome. Example: I would like a 15% increase within 3 months.
    - Then, define another outcome that is aligned with your goal and that would also work for you. Example: 15% increase within 6 months.
    - Finally, define your Least Acceptable Outcome. For example, if they say no to your request for an increase in salary, then plan to request to sit on a significant committee that will give you greater visibility, or ask for an additional week of vacation, or for the opportunity to sign up for a training program you are interested in.
    - Don’t make a request that only allows them to say yes or no. Rather, make it a conversation that explores other options and possibilities.

For more tips, see Chapter 9 of my book – this chapter focuses on “Asking For What You Want.” 

 

Question: How can you be assertive without being perceived as aggressive or emotional? 

Becky: First of all, let me give you my definition of “assertive”- getting the attention and respect you deserve! So, the first thing you might do is ask for feedback on how you are being perceived in terms of being assertive in different situations. If you discover that the perception you are creating is not what you intend it to be, you may be able to reframe your communication by adapting your style, tone of voice, body language, etc. 

If you are being perceived as too aggressive, start your conversation by inviting others to share their views, listen and be open to their perceptions. Then share your view versus leading with your thoughts and opinions up front. Connect their thinking with yours. This is called “connecting the dots.” 

If you are perceived as being too emotional, always remember to balance emotion with logic. Sometimes we have a tendency to be too passionate about a topic which comes through in our level and intensity of emotions. There’s nothing wrong with being passionate but make your passion relevant to your audience. What do they want to hear and not hear? Use back-up facts and figures or stories that your audience can identify with. Know the triggers that set your emotions off. Be aware of them before you walk into the room and have a strategy to deal with them before you let them deal with you. 

You can find more suggestions in the Making Your Words Count chapter of my book. 

Finally, we also address these topics and more in SHAMBAUGH’s Women in Leadership and Learning (WILL) program. This is one of the benefits you could consider asking your company for as an incentive. 

We hope you will join us for our next webinar

To read Becky's previous blogs, click here.

August 18, 2008 | Leave a Comment

1 comment(s)

Leslie Martin on 08/19  at  03:56 PM:

Becky and all,

I am an executive leadership coach and want to thank you for your excellent thoughts. The balance between assertive behavior and being perceived as pushy and obnoxious is a true art. Your insights are extremely helpful and I will pass them on to my female “coachees”.  Leslie Martin, President, Highlands Consulting Group

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