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Whose Job Do You Want?

Whose Job Do You Want?

Renee Weisman | Excelle

You have been working at your job for some time and have been told you are doing it well. Your performance reviews are very good but your raises are somewhat disappointing, and you see others getting promoted. You ask yourself, what am I doing wrong? The problem is not what you are doing but what you are NOT doing.

To move ahead in any position, it is important to let your management know what you want. Women are especially reluctant to set goals and to ask for something. We tend to wait, expecting someone will pat us on the back and say, “Your work has been great. Here’s a reward for doing that.” In the real world, that almost never happens.

Most experts will tell you that you have to set goals to move ahead. But women have a hard time with goal setting and often set their goals lower than men. As a mentor to many engineers, male and female, I often found that getting women to set meaningful goals was like pulling teeth. I would always ask my mentees in one of our first sessions, “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” The women would typically answer with some sort of vague remark like, “I want to be in a position where I am valued and I am adding value to the company”. The men would typically say, “I want your job. What do I have to do to get it?” Based on this, who was more likely to get my job?

After several years of listening to this, I decided to ask the women the question differently. I would ask, “Whose job do you want?” After their initial shock at the question, the young women would start to put some serious thought into the type of job that appealed to them and how to move in that direction.

The advantage of this question is that it is very specific. Instead of some vague concept of value, the mentee had to search through the jobs they had seen other people do and consider themselves in the role. This visualization also helped them realize they could do the job, but perhaps needed a bit more training or focus. It also helped them identify what they were lacking to fill that position so they knew what skills and experiences they needed to prepare themselves. This might direct them to a different assignment or a different position within the business that they had never considered. It also helped them develop a timetable for moving and some ways to measure if they were on track. In effect, it enabled women to set goals without realizing they were doing it.

So if you feel you aren’t moving ahead as fast as you’d like, look around your company and ask yourself, “Whose job do I want?”

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