business coaching · mindset

What Women Want at Work

As a woman in business for almost 20 years, and all of those being self-employed, I feel like I give a different perspective to my coaching clients.  All I’ve ever really known is hustling and hunting for my paycheck, while learning how to make that more effective and flexible through the years.  I haven’t really had a boss; I’ve had managers and mentors that have guided me along the way.

So my first survey for women at work was a little shocking to me in some regards.  Most of what I see on social media or the news is women trying to break through the glass ceiling.  To “crush” the boys club.  But that’s not really what this survey discovered.  What do women really feel about their support network at their job and what’s really important to them?  I posted a Survey Monkey survey in December last year and wanted to share some of the results with you.  (This isn’t an all-encompassing survey.  I would need a much larger pool of people to statistically make these numbers accurate, but believe that they give great insight to what women want and are working for.)  If you’re a manager, self-employed, or a woman in business, you’ll want to check out the results:

  1. What is the highest position you have held?  57% said middle management and 21% responded with upper management.  So the women who responded have been established in their field and understand what they want.
  2. What is the highest level you want to achieve?  This was eye-opening to me!  33% of respondents wanted to stay at their current level.  40% wanted one or two promotions.  What does this mean??  It could be a variety of things, but what I took away from this and the other answers was that women don’t all feel like they have to be the boss.  They want flexibility and to be appreciated more than anything.  (93% of respondents said their company was flexible with their schedule.)   I know that when I had been at my previous insurance company, there came a point where I didn’t care about the extra promotions.  I saw the level of work, travel, and time that was involved with it and decided I wanted flexibility more.  And I’m finding that with my coaching clients, some of this rings true.  A few of them are shooting for the highest promotion they can get, but others just want support and achieving their desired goals in the most effective way possible.  Making a million dollars a year and having extraordinary monthly bills they are tied to is no longer the ultimate goal for women.  It’s being in control of their situation and not feeling like a prisoner to their bills and job.  (Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace wrote a phenomenal book about this in detail called “The Ambition Decisions.”  I highly recommend it to anyone who manages women or any woman at a cross-roads with where she wants to take her career.  You can find it on Amazon.)
  3. Do you feel like men hold a disproportionate amount of higher-ranking titles? (As someone who worked in male-dominated fields for most of my career, this one did not surprise me at all.)  71% said yes, men do.  But, is this really a result of the “good ole boys club?”  If most women don’t want the highest positions out there, by default, men will have them.  There are so many cultural and family norms that play into this stat, but it’s my belief that if a woman wants something, she can get it.  I help my clients every day go after what they want.  Many of the top jobs require extensive travel and time and mothers who hold those positions face many adversities in performing at that level.   There is guilt from missing out on their children’s activities, guilt from other mothers who judge them, guilt from themselves.  Men at the top simply don’t go through as much emotional work as women have to.  (Again, please reference the book I just mentioned because they touch on all of this.)
  4. The next two stats I’m sharing in one overview because they deal with the relationship with their boss/manager.  It was a split between women who felt they are recognized for their work: 53% said yes and 47% said no.  And then women said this: 73% said they are able to tell their boss what they need.  26% said they couldn’t do that.  Two thoughts that come to my mind about these two revelations: 1. Women aren’t telling their boss’ that they need more recognition. (Who can blame them?! No woman wants to appear weak and insecure by asking for compliments.)  2. Managers need to start catching (men and) women doing things right more often.  Most leadership books preach this, but it’s hard to remember to do it.  I would suggest scheduling time in your calendar to go through who on your team is following through with their goals, who is performing above expectations, and those people who are keeping your business in tact.  A kind word or public recognition can go a long way towards employee retention and performance.

Here’s the thing with all these survey results:  The only thing that really matters is what you want.  What’s important to you?  You are not a victim to your circumstances.  You can achieve any level or promotion or life you want.  You have to work for it – you have to use your strengths and interests and intertwine them with your values.  If you aren’t sure you can get what you want where you currently are, seek help.

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