In an ideal world, working from home should equal the playing field for women. According to chief talent scientist at ManpowerGroup, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, “Online meetings limit men’s chances ‘to engage in Machiavellian tactics of manipulation’ such as staying late when the boss does or using ingratiating body language during physical meetings.”
And while this may be true, there are still many other hurdles women have to face while working from home that prevent them from attaining the same career momentum as their male counterparts, such as fitting in childcare and housework. According to Forbes, “Women are eight times more likely than men to look after sick children or manage their children’s schedules.” Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising then that 34% of male parents were promoted during the pandemic, while only 9% of women found the same success.
Even when you take childcare out of the equation, studies show that working remotely poses a unique challenge for women. Only 29% of women without children who worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic have seen a positive effect on their career. Conversely, 57% of men without children who worked remotely found that their careers were positively impacted.
But don’t let these numbers dishearten you. Our team at Her New Standard has created a quick and simple guide that will help you reach success while working remotely!
According to the Wall Street Journal “The first step toward professional development is figuring out what you’re working toward. Take some time to consider where you want to go in your career. What’s your next step once the economy improves? Do you want to move up within your current company? Or is a role at another company a better next step for you?”
Once you’ve determined your next move, one key to getting there is clarity around what skills and assets you bring to your team. Take stock of your unique qualities and contributions. Are you the only one on your team who can solve complex problems? Do you work collaboratively with difficult coworkers to get things done? Are you the go-to person for technical trouble-shooting? Assessing your value and getting clear about what work you really enjoy helps you advocate for the roles you will excel in.
The next step is to get the word out about your strengths. For women especially, ensuring that your voice is heard and your accomplishments are acknowledged can be a daunting task. In fact, a study conducted by FlynnHeathHolt found that women tend to “get judged more harshly than men for politicking at work.” At HNS, we advise our bootcamp participants to openly share what they’ve achieved with contacts across the organization, while acknowledging the contributions of others towards these goals. Women often assume people will notice the good work they’re doing, but this is rarely the case at more senior levels unless they proactively communicate.
Coming prepared to contribute to Zoom meetings is an easy way to secure your status as an influential, valuable employee. It’s helpful to set a goal to participate several times during each virtual meeting. Know what problem your team is going to tackle during the call and have an action plan prepared. Communicate assertively by using phrases such as “I strongly believe” instead of the more wishy-washy “Maybe we should…”. Make sure you look professional and turn on your camera for added impact.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a CEO, IT specialist, copywriter, or manager; creating a work environment where your fellow employees trust you is crucial to advancement. When you have a good relationship with your team members, it’s apparent to others outside the group and communicates that you’re easy to work with, which is critical to getting new opportunities. Trust and communication go hand-in-hand – but how do you get others to trust you?
When it comes to advancement, the most important person to have in your camp is your manager. Make time to connect regularly with your boss on a personal as well as a professional level and openly communicate what’s going well and where you’re struggling. Ask for their feedback frequently to ensure you know where you stand. Make sure they know what kinds of roles you’re interested in, so that they can be on the lookout for opportunities for you.
Linda Hill, co-author of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, notes that to begin building a trusting relationship with your boss, they need to see you as “someone worth keeping and someone [they want] to have as part of [their] team.” Start by getting to know your boss professionally. What are their goals? What pressures are they facing? What are their priorities? These are all questions that will help you understand what drives your boss and anticipate their needs in the future.
You can also earn your manager’s trust by gaining the respect of your colleagues. Michael Watkins, Chairman of Genesis Advisers, explains, “your boss is making assessments through direct observation and also through other people [via] feedback.” So make sure that you’re helping out your teammates, acting with transparency, keeping your word, and looking for opportunities to make others look good.
When it comes to promotions, managers take note of employees who volunteer for additional assignments before being asked. If you happen to find yourself with some extra time on your hands, try offering to help a team member with a project they’re struggling to complete. This type of work not only helps solidify your reputation as a dedicated employee, it also allows you to gain knowledge and cultivate new skills.
It’s also important to note that you don’t have to wait for new assignments to arise: you can create your own! Begin by considering ways you might improve your work environment. This might look like streamlining operations or organizing a networking event with key partners.
While taking on extra work is a great strategy for ensuring your name is at the top of your boss’s mind, we recognize that adding to an already overwhelming workload is simply not a possibility for many these days. In that case, accomplishing everything already on your plate is a worthy goal. Setting healthy work-life boundaries is an important priority, as it ensures you’re able to contribute over the long-haul.
When all is said and done, perhaps the most effective way to get a promotion is to ask for one. Career consultant for MSN News Tara Goodfellow notes: “Just because you’ve been working remotely, doesn’t mean asking for a raise is off the table or inconsiderate. Yes, these are trying times. Yes, many folks are without employment, are underemployed or are furloughed. However, many of us are working extra hours, wearing extra hats, taking on new responsibilities and ramping up pretty quickly.”
There are a few steps you can take to give yourself the best odds when asking for a promotion or raise during a pandemic. Timing, for instance, is absolutely crucial. If your company is struggling financially or has instituted a hiring freeze, it’s probably better to wait until the outlook has improved. But if your organization has remained solvent and successful through the pandemic, don’t hesitate to ask for what you feel you deserve.
Make sure you have a plan in place if you decide to go for it. Do some research to find out the levels and titles of those doing similar work in other departments or at other companies. Know your goals, be ready to articulate your achievements, and be prepared to answer objections. Use an assertive yet open approach that encourages dialogue. If your manager states that there’s no way they can get this approved now, ask when they think the timing would be right. If it becomes clear from the conversation that you and your boss see your performance differently, take advantage of the opportunity to ask, “What can I be doing more of?”, “What should I be doing less of?”, or “How can I be more helpful?”
It’s also important to keep in mind that career growth is more than a new job or a promotion. Success can range from building a strong network to developing new skills or breaking out of your comfort zone. So don’t get discouraged if your efforts to get promoted aren’t immediately successful. The important thing is to keep focused on your goals. Just by having the conversation, you are ensuring that your manager is paying more attention to your achievements. And remember, career growth is a process that takes time, determination, and usually a fair amount of patience.