Monday, March 28, 2005

Ask and You Shall Receive ...

Thank you, Nina, for sharing your thoughts on the gender earnings gap.

I wanted to bring to the forefront the Harvard Business Review findings you shared on career and salary negotiation -- if we don't ask for something, how can we legitimately expect to receive it?

Relevant to your comment "the squeaky wheel gets oiled, and the ones doing the squeaking are not women:"

In the Competent Advantage workshop, we help people identify ways to document, promote and leverage their accomplishments.
  • Documenting accomplishments is important -- how will you know what (or how much) to ask for during a performance management meeting if you don't have a full sense of what you've achieved?
  • Promoting accomplishments is crucial -- you can't presume that your manager knows all that you've accomplished in a given month or quarter (let alone a full year!). Use the documentation you gather to provide him/her a regular "heads-up" on what you're doing.
  • Leveraging accomplishments pulls it all together. Once you've documented what you've done and told others about it, how can you use these accomplishments to your advantage?
  1. Asking for a role with more visibility?
  2. Bidding for a new project or committee?
  3. Developing a new relationship with a key stakeholder?

I'd suggest that these strategies are relevant for both genders. However, the reasons you mentioned from the Babcock study ("socialization, penalization and frustration") could erode a woman's confidence to make the request.

Thoughts? Experiences?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

So, why DO men earn more than women?

In honor of Women’s History month, I thought I’d start a dialogue about a pretty controversial topic. I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts on this one!

Dr. Warren Farrell, PhD argues in his new book Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap -- and What Women Can Do About It that 25 different workplace choices that men make lead to the fact they earn more than women. The workplace choices he identifies include:
  • Putting in more hours
  • Taking on more hazardous assignments
  • Moving overseas or to undesirable locations
  • Training for jobs with less people contact

He contends that women’s choices are driven by their desire to achieve a balance between their lifestyle and their career. Therefore, he argues that women tend to pursue jobs that offer this balance, and are lower on the pay scale. Dr. Farrell suggests that women actually earn equal pay (or more) for equal work – i.e. in jobs with the same level of responsibility and hours.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics “Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2003” (September 2004) “women’s median earnings for full-time wage and salary workers in 2003 were $552 compared to $695 for men.” Women’s earnings in management, business and financial operations occupations were 69.9% of men’s in 2003. [Data provided by Catalyst]

So, what do YOU think?

Is it different workplace choices or are there other factors that lead to the earnings gap between men and women? What has been your experience? What have you observed in your industry?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Are You in the Right Job?

The activities in the What’s Your Competent Advantage? workshop are designed to help you examine the alignment of your strengths and driving forces with your current job or business endeavor.

In other words, are you using your best skills to fulfill your responsibilities? Or, do you spend most of your time doing tasks that are above (or below) your skill level?

Are you performing your functions with energy and enthusiasm? Or, do you approach your workday with lethargy and indifference?

In today’s job market, it can be challenging to find the “right” job at each stage in your career. However, contemplate the short- and long-term consequences of working in a job that does not challenge or inspire you.

  • What does it do to your productivity?
  • How does it impact your ability to progress through the organization?

As managers and team leaders, find ways to “check the pulse” on how people are aligned within your organization.

  • How can they learn (and demonstrate) new skills or talents?
  • Where are there opportunities for people to grow or advance?

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Are You CEO Material?

Check out this quiz from Fortune Magazine. It is based on a recent book by Kathleen Kelley Reardon, PhD The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Inner Circle (Currency/Doubleday, $14.95).

We've begun with the premise that being competent -- or aware -- of one's abilities is important for the success of one's career or business. This book and the survey point to another important factor -- an awareness of the internal politics of one's organization. Navigating your way through an organization, building relationships and alliances while maintaining one's expertise and integrity, can sometimes be challenging.

How often have you witnessed people get derailed for not being aware of how "things are done" in an organization?

I'm curious to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Thank you for taking time to visit the Competent Advantage community.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary offers several definitions for competent, including:

  • Having requisite or adequate ability or qualities
  • Legally qualified or adequate
  • Having the capacity to function or develop in a particular way

It also provides various definitions for advantage, including:

  • Superiority of position or condition
  • Benefit resulting from some course of action

In creating this Competent Advantage community (and corresponding workshops), aside from coining a somewhat unique title, I would like to encourage dialogue and information exchange about how we each use our knowledge to achieve great things.

I’d define competent advantage as a keen awareness of the talents and abilities that will help one to stand out (and for) something great. [Greatness, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.]

This, to me, implies a greater focus on developing and tapping into one’s internal strengths as opposed to concentrating on external rivalries. Not to say that we should be blind to what’s happening in the world around us. More that we should leverage our strengths (and lessons learned) to succeed in spite of obstacles that may be thrown our way.

I’m happy to share my thoughts and ideas with you, as I’ve learned that it’s important for us to tell our stories. Hopefully, this information exchange will help you step out and think more creatively about your goals and begin defining your competent advantage.