Women in Corporate, It’s Time to Vocalize What You Want

Want to be heard? Then you gotta speak up. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Photo credit: Hugo Ataide

Photo credit: Hugo Ataide

If you're waiting for someone to acknowledge your value, you could be waiting forever. In order for others to value your work and recognize your value, you must do it yourself first.

Let me guess: Your male co-workers are probably quite vocal about the projects they want to be a part of, or the position they want,… while you may be working really hard, doing all it takes, putting in the extra hours, but somehow the decision-makers don’t see you and you feel like all the hard work is not paying off. Well, the truth is, there’s not only bias (whether it’s conscious or unconscious…), but in addition to the bias we’re dealing with, most leaders are also too busy to do a lot of research around the best candidates for a specific project or position. So if someone raises their hand, it’s just logical that that person’s chances go up.

It’s really key to speak up and be clear and direct about what you want and why you shouldbe considered, what qualifies you. And that may require stepping out of your habitual behavior… I don’t call it your comfort zone because it’s really not that comfortable to find yourself stuck. It can actually be quite uncomfortable. That’s why I like to call it the convenience zone. It’s just more convenient to stay there because it doesn’t require much effort or courage to stay there. But I’m going off on a tangent…

So how would you do that? Most of the time, it’s a good idea to bring another person into the game, like your boss or a mentor, and if you have a sponsor, that’s of course awesome… someone to have your back, an advocate.

Once the support system is covered, the next thing is to raise your hand, to clearly tell the decision-makers that you’re interested and why you’re the best candidate, why it’s a great fit, how you will benefit the success of that project and their success. And in that same first conversation, you get all the details you need, ask all the questions. Never leave a meeting without discussing the follow-up process and a follow-up date. This means, you agree on what additional information needs to be submitted, and you suggest the specifics for a follow-up call or meeting. Then you formally schedule that meeting right then and there. And then you go after it. And you follow up.

And by the way, it’s not only ok to speak up for roles that are offered to you. Why not create your own ideal job? If you feel like you could add more value in a newly designed role or as a formal leader of a group you’re already leading informally, speak up and lay out the benefits for the team and the organization of you being in that new role. I have one client who has done this twice in the last 18 months, always eager to step up to her next level. To her surprise, the answer was always yes. If she hadn’t asked, she’d still be where she was in December last year.

But you must go in prepared, bring evidence that you’ll create more value in this way, reasons why you should be in the new position and also get paid more for creating higher value. Remember, when you move into a higher position, this is also the time to discuss compensation. It’s only logical that you should get paid more when you create more value for a team or division. Prepare your numbers well: You want to have an ideal number and a minimum acceptable number in your mind. If you can't get your ideal number, what are some benefits and perks you can negotiate? Additional paid vacation days, work-from-home days, extra training, etc. Again, don’t be apologetic about the salary you want. Clearly and firmly state your expectations.

In this context, it’s critical to lay out what you’re going to accomplish, how it’s going to benefit the team, the organization, what the ROI is going to be. Be concrete about the results you are going to produce. Don’t focus on your past performance, but rather on your potential in the new role. – Did you know that in job interviews, women tend to talk about their achievements and men about their potential? And that’s how they get paid: women for their past, men for their future. Always remember: Moving into your next level is always about your potential, about contributing something you haven't done before. If you had achieved and proven everything the new role implies and requires, it wouldn’t be a step up.

Still finding it hard to speak up for yourself? I’ve put together some simple, yet powerful tools for you in my book Speak up, Stand out and Shine – Speak Powerfully in Any Situation. They can help you get prepared for any challenging speaking situation. Go to my BOOK page and click on the book cover. It’s a direct link to the book on Amazon – Kindle or print. Or just write me and we'll set up a call to discuss some options.