Last week I shared a list of key questions to ask yourself, that will give you some direction in terms of creating the success you want to see in 2024.
Here they are:
- Are you investing in your growth?
- Are you advocating for your promotion?
- Are you creating boundaries?
- Are you showing up as that leader today?
In that same newsletter I shared 4 different ways you can invest in yourself – both paid and free. And some of you even decided to invest your time into joining my free masterclass on Tuesday (which was so much fun)! BTW, if you missed it, you can catch the replay in the bottom section of this newsletter.
This week I want to dive into the next important question:
Are you advocating for yourself and your promotion?
Let’s jump in.
I want to first acknowledge that it’s NOT always easy or natural for us to advocate for ourselves as women. If this was easy, we’d all be doing it! Instead, studies show that women are less likely to self-promote and more likely to give credit to others.
Why do we struggle to do this?
Simple, we’ve been conditioned this way. But also, not so simple as you’ll see…
As humans we’ve evolved to want people to like us. This makes sense, because if we were kicked out of our hunter-gatherer tribe, we may starve to death.
But as women, our reluctance to advocate for ourselves is not something happening at the DNA-level, it’s a learned behaviour.
We’re taught through the messages we receive growing up that to make people like us, we need to be pleasers, we shouldn’t rock the boat and we shouldn’t be ‘too much’. Sit nicely, raise your hand and be a good girl, right?
Now, just to layer on another level of complexity, there’s something called the likeability backlash, which is a phenomenon that occurs when women choose to negotiate or advocate for ourselves, and are then seen as less likeable. Again, this comes down to conditioning because we’re taught that women should be collaborative and passive, and when we act in a different way, people aren’t sure what to think.
So, we’re dealing with a bit of double-whammy here. First, we’re taught not to rock the boat, and advocating for ourselves feels a bit like rocking the boat. Secondly, we can sense the likeability backlash, which sadly is a real thing, and this often causes us to soften our speech or go into pleasing mode.
I recognize this may be getting a little depressing… but all is not lost! Because there ARE ways to advocate for yourself effectively, and without triggering this backlash.
How can you start advocating for yourself?
There are 3 key factors that can make this easier and more effective. They are:
- Focusing on objective data to share successes
- Creating a process for feedback
- Using collaborative language
Let’s explore each of them.
Focusing on objective data
Let’s face it, everyone should do this whether you’re male or female. But for women, it can be particularly effective because you’re pointing to data vs. promoting yourself. Slight difference here, but it can feel much more natural to do this and it’s often well received.
Let’s consider negotiating your new salary. Instead of focusing on what you need for your life or what you believe you’re worth, do your homework and come prepared with industry standard rates for comparable positions, and evidence that your experience lines up with those roles.
Now it’s less about you and more about the data.
Action you can take today
Start a brag sheet! This is a document you can keep on your computer where you keep track of your wins, accomplishments and the great feedback you receive.
This will be a helpful record that you can use in meetings with your manager, for updating your resume or in your annual review. Let’s make sure you aren’t forgetting all of the great things you do that you want to share with your boss!
Once it’s time to discuss that next promotion, you will have already built up significant evidence for why you’re ready for the next step.
A process for feedback
This one is just a no-brainer to me, and yet most people don’t do this. The idea here is to create the process by which you regularly discuss your role, development and wins with your manager. This saves you from awkwardly having to bring up your request for a raise or interest in moving to the next level in your career with your boss… Because you’re already having these conversations on a regular basis.
The best way to do this is to suggest a more strategic 1:1 each month, where you can have bigger conversations about what’s going well (or not going well) in the business, your team and anything else. I like to use a template for this. Here’s one you can use as a reference and customize as you see fit.
As you can see from the document, when you’re reporting on the progress towards your priorities or goals you can share key wins and accomplishments in a relevant, non-boastful way.
This document also gives you an opportunity to share what you’re not happy about, and what you’re working towards from a career perspective.
I had a manager implement this with me and I loved it. So for future roles, I took the lead and talked to my manager about using this process (which I also used with the people who reported to me). Typically your manager will be happy to see you taking the initiative and creating the space for deeper, more strategic conversations.
Action you take today
Customize the 30 day check-in document and approach your manager about implementing this into your regular meeting schedule.
Using collaborative language
This is my third tip for advocating for yourself in an effective way that feels good and combats the likeability backlash.
Granted, using collaborative language is always great and can be effective for both men and women, but it’s even more impactful for women, who we’re already conditioned to see as collaborative. And this comes down to being mindful of the language you use when you share wins or advocate for yourself.
So what do I mean here?
Let’s say for example, you want to highlight finishing a project under budget and time. Instead of saying, “Hey Brian, we did a really great job on project XYZ. My team was able to complete it both early under budget.”
Try saying, “Hey Brian, I wanted to share an update I’m really excited about. I know how important project XYZ is to the company’s strategic initiatives this year, and I’m happy to share we just completed it early and under budget. I look forward to contributing to more of these initiatives.”
As you can see, the second version is more focused on the benefit to the company vs. just sharing the success of the team. This not only creates a feeling of collaboration, but also demonstrates your ability to see the bigger picture (which is so important for leadership).
Using ‘we’ language can also be powerful when negotiating a salary increase. Let’s say you get an offer that’s below what you were looking for. You can say something like, “Thank you for the offer. I’m excited to join Company ABC and contribute to your success. Based on my research, the salary for this role was in the range of $X to $Y, which is in line with that I’m looking for. I’m confident we can work together to find a solution for both sides.”
The key with using collaborative language is not to soften your ask or your opinions, but instead to highlight wanting the best for both you and the company.
Action to take today
Spend some time prepping for how you’d like to share a recent win, or discuss your next promotion. Consider the language you’re using and ask yourself if there’s a way to make it more collaborative.
I hope these tips are helpful to you! As always, I’d love to hear your feedback on this newsletter so feel free to reply and let me know what you thought. Also, if you love my newsletter, I ask that you send it to 1-3 friends who you think would benefit from it!
The more women we help level up and thrive in their roles, the better for all of us.