Recently I had a conversation with a friend, she told me after working her ass off for 2 years and taking on multiple roles during that time due to re-deployments happening within the company, and while doing so without complaining and always trying to remain positive, she was in a staff meeting with a department head, whom she’s met on a previous occasion, greeted her as if she was a new employee wishing to learn her name.
My friend, shocked and amazed this could actually be happening was clearly embarrassed, mystified and in her typical manner trying to make sense of what just happened and seeing if there was some type of lesson to learn from all this.
Feeling blue, she went home that night and had a conversation with her daughter, who is heading off to college to develop her own sense of self. Trying to make this a teachable moment, she shared with her daughter three lessons she took away from the day.
ONE: When working for others if you’re not a bragger or always looking out for yourself, try to push yourself outside your comfort zone, speak up and be seen; make the time to advocate for yourself. In today’s competitive environment assuming your boss has your back and is advocating for you and your work – just might not be a reality.
TWO: Take the time, no matter what your age, to soul search on what’s important to you – if stability, good pay, consistent raises, and structure make you happy, that’s great. Be willing to accept what comes with that, tracking vacation time, daily commutes, often working through lunches and taking on anything that is thrown your way. Most of all, do it with a smile, find a way to detach your emotions and know the rules of the game.
THREE: If you’re tenacious, self-driven, love having flexibility and freedom, visibility without deception and endless obstacles and rewards then consider self-employment as an option. Do your market research, understand the financial risk and rewards, build your business plan, read a lot, learn from others who have succeeded before you, take action, network, focus on the goal, fail fast and move on. Drive yourself as a crazy boss would. Stay the course or pivot, be nibble, find a problem-deliver a solution. Be the best, know your value, never undersell your abilities, and emphasize your competitive strengths. Know going into it no one will be there to pat you on the back, encourage you or pull you up when you’re down.
I was very proud of my friend who turned her experience into a teachable moment and used this as a lesson she could share with her daughter, a lesson no textbook in college was going to teach her, no recruiter was going to be truthful and share with her. Young women need to hear the ups and downs of other women in business and tech. Hear the challenges and the successes they experience, understand they are never alone, they always have options and they can choose their path being informed and empowered to dream big and aspire to make a difference in the way that’s right for them.
Just as important as working on diversity, and transparency, I think companies today need to understand the importance of employee retention and talent recruitment. Practice basic common sense, know your employees and know and understand the work each of them does and how they contribute to the organizations' bottom line. Identify their talents and passion and align them in your company appropriately. Make time to understand their challenges, their personality types and pay attention to their manager’s ability to advocate for their team members. Common sense can help businesses in so many ways.
Please share these lessons with others who can benefit from them.