20 Career Management Mistakes Women Can't Afford to Make in 2020
I believe this year is going to be nothing short of phenomenal – especially when we are not only willing to do the work, but when we understand what absolutely will not work as it relates to career success.
While I understand life happens and there are some things that are beyond our control, there are aspects of our lives that we have 100% control over. Make this the year that you do exactly that: Focus on what you can control, exude confidence, and dare to make bold career moves.
Below you’ll find my top 20 career management mistakes women can’t afford to make in 2020. Feel free to share this information with other women who can benefit so that they too can experience career success!
Mistake #1: Not being able to say “no.”
No is a decision; yes is a responsibility. Be careful what (and whom) you say yes to. It will shape your day, your career, your family, and your life.
Mistake #2: Thinking they have to have the answer to the problem to speak up.
According to Dr. Mary Lippit:
You can speak up or challenge an idea without painting yourself as a contrarian; ask for specifics in a collaborative, supportive way. For example, 'This sounds very promising. I’d like to understand a little bit more. Are there any potential risks associated with it?' or 'I like that idea. Can we dig deeper?' When you help an organization avoid a pitfall, you’re seen as a key player.
Mistake #3: Failing to manage their career like a business.
Not only should women think and act like an entrepreneur within the walls of an organization, they must be agile, resilient, and positioned to pivot based on the company’s needs without compromising their values and performance.
Mistake #4: Failing to manage their emotions.
The way you react to situations will have an impact on the way people perceive you. Identify and analyze your emotional responses so you can better manage them and your reputation.
Mistake #5: Receiving sub-par feedback.
Developmental feedback men receive can be linked to specific business outcomes and is actionable. If you’re not receiving the same level of feedback, say something.
[Related: Double Bind Dilemma: Leader vs. Team-Player]
Mistake #6: Failing to cultivate social capital.
Actively connect with junior-level employees and senior leader mentors/sponsors. Then, create networking opportunities regardless of level so you can lift as you climb. Your network isn’t just for you. It’s also so that you can also serve as a catalyst for growth in others.
Mistake #7: Talking themselves out of their own success.
Believe in yourself and your expertise. Men apply for jobs when they meet 60% of the hiring criteria, while women wait until we meet 100%. Abandon perfection; see opportunities everywhere, then seize them.
Mistake #8: Failing to audit their skills.
Whether you're looking to move into a position of leadership or if you're already in one, it's important to understand the skills you need to carry out the role, your strengths, and the areas you need to improve upon or develop. Don't just consider your current role – think about future moves, as well, and assess the skills you possess in addition to the ones you need.
Mistake #9: Playing the wrong position in this career game.
One of the best positions to play is that of an observer as you analyze your company’s culture. You’re required to have responses to three key questions: Who are the winners, who are the losers, and what’s contributing to those outcomes? Success leaves clues and people will always show you what to do as well as what NOT to do.
Mistake #10: Using tenure to advocate for themselves.
When it comes to positioning the conversation for a raise or a promotion, many women make the mistake of assuming tenure will make a big difference. As Dr. Mary Lippitt says:
It’s the ‘I’ve been here [x] years and it’s my turn’ mentality. Today, it’s all about the value you’ve produced recently, especially in the last six months. Paint a picture of your impact; focus on the value you’ve added recently.
Mistake #11: Failing to identify their three Ws.
- Who am I? Define who you are in absence of your title. Think strengths, competencies, and collective career experience.
- Why am I in this role and how long will I occupy this seat?
- What are my results? Own your outcomes and communicate them.
Mistake #12: Neglecting powerful communication strategies.
Because every conversation is a business conversation, women must be prepared to speak at any point in time about the current state of their work and how it relates to the company’s goals.
Mistake #13: Playing it safe with silence.
Use your voice to share your point of view and ask for what you want - as well as what you need - to achieve career success, which should include obtaining relevant information in a timely manner.
Mistake #14: Working in reverse because they've ignored the invisible rules.
- Observe who wins, who loses, and why.
- Learn from the mistakes and achievements of others.
- Apply what’s been learned and/or observed to accelerate career advancement.
Mistake #15: Failing to connect their ability to solve problems with credibility.
- Identify an organizational problem or opportunity.
- Gather information, which includes: consulting others, assessing trends, and reviewing facts/data.
- Once your fact-finding mission is complete, confidently present your solution.
Mistake #16: Acting as if office politics will magically disappear.
Understand that while you may loathe office politics, there is a game in play. You must know the written and unwritten rules of your organization. You must strategically position yourself by leveraging your relationships and strengths.
Although observation is necessary, you must do more than observe from the sidelines; you must insert yourself into the game at the right time so you can experience your win.
Mistake #17: Making inaccurate career assumptions.
- You shouldn’t leave managing your career to chance or to anyone else. It is YOUR responsibility and it will not happen without your efforts.
- You shouldn’t assume you will be compensated fairly. It is your responsibility to know your value, your worth in the marketplace, and to negotiate.
- You shouldn’t think that your resume and interview will be enough. These things will help you progress through the hiring process, but managing your career is much more than that.
Mistake #18: Shrinking.
We undervalue and lessen our credibility when we place the word “just” ahead of our title, accomplishments, and attributes. From an early age, women, generally speaking, are taught to focus on the needs of others instead of promoting their own interests. Speak up!
Mistake #19: Falling into “the comparison trap.”
You have strengths. Master a skill if need be and know you are enough! When you say “_____ is much better at...” it positions you to play from an inferior plane, which should never be an option.
Mistake #20: Failing to make a PowHer Move because you believe mobility must be upward, when in actuality, sometimes an interim move is required.
- Lateral: Move across the organization to a different business unit, product line, department, or functional area.
- Vertical: Move up in another division or organization to open doors. Move into management or move upward.
- Realign: Move down. Move into another functional area or profession with more options.
- Relocate: Move out and on! Switch employers to change industries, move geographically, or simply transition into another organization (same field).
Now that you have my top 20 mistakes, what’s your plan for not making them? Focus on the top five that are causing you the most professional pain - the ones that will undermine your success this year - and create a plan to avoid those mistakes at all costs.
[Related: The Neuroscience Behind Habit Change]
Ericka Spradley is the Chief PowHer Officer/Founder of Confident Career Woman, which is the premier consulting firm for corporations and the mid-career professional woman who wants to advance, better manage her career, and go further faster. She is an advocate who partners with clients to help women ditch perfection, play bigger, and make PowHer Moves by: identifying their next role, creating a career strategy, offering ongoing career guidance, and coaching clients to master interviews. For additional information, visit: ErickaSpradley.com.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Career Coach/Chief PowHer Officer
Confident Career Woman
"I believe every woman should excel at work and know their worth." Unfortunately, I settled. I know a comfort zone when I see one because that's where I spent most of my career! As a planner who didn't have a plan, I interviewed successfully throughout my career before obtaining a college degree. In essence, my ability to interview served as my lifeline prior to college graduation MUCH later in life. I knew a career change would... Continue Reading
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