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For the female manager: to be successful, follow the lead of the men

It’s a sex thing. In the professional world, women tend to undersell themselves.

And the fallout is money. Studies show that women make only 77% of what their male working counterparts earn, and usually earn less even when they have the same job description and same education.

Why? Because men present themselves in a stronger, more complimentary light, says Vickie Milazzo, a legal nurse consultant in Houston who is both a nurse and an attorney as well as author of The New York Times bestseller, “Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman.”

Humility doesn’t go far

It’s in performance reviews that male managers most outshine the women, Milazzo says. And there are several reasons for it.

One is that men are good at self-recruiting, or keeping their bosses continuously aware of the valuable things they’re doing.

“They set themselves up all year long” to get noticed for good work. They tell their bosses about their accomplishments.

Ongoing recognition is essential for a promotion or a good raise, she says. No manager can wait till the review to convince the doctors a raise is in order. By that time, the die is already cast. It’s too late to say, “Here are all the things I’ve done, so I deserve a good raise.” The raise has already been determined.

Her advice to women is to tell the doctors about each accomplishment as it’s made. And to make sure they don’t forget about anything, give them a resume a few weeks before the review listing the accomplishments and showing how each one has benefited the office’s bottom line.

Another reason for the imbalance is the way the female manager tends to tell her boss about accomplishments.

The man does so with great pride; the woman does so with humility.

Humility is noble, Milazzo says, but not in the professional world. There it only minimizes the good work.

Show excitement about accomplishments and how they’ve helped the practice. Otherwise, the doctors won’t be impressed and won’t remember them at review time.

Yet another job differentiating factor is the type of projects men and women take on.

When a man volunteers for a project, it’s usually something that carries a financial benefit. A woman, however, will take on a job such as organizing the Christmas party, which yields no benefit to the financial picture.

People get raises and promotions not because of hard work but because of how they contribute to the bottom line, she says. The smart approach is to delegate the no-money projects and focus on doing the jobs that help the doctors succeed. That makes the manager a key player and indispensable to the practice.

When it comes to getting a raise, “it’s not enough to say, ‘I’ve worked hard and I need more money.’” People don’t get rewarded for doing what they’re told to do. They get rewarded for the value their employers get out of them.

Yes,I did a great job on that!

Another difference: Women acknowledge their faults too quickly and their accomplishments too quietly.

For men, it’s the other way around.

A doctor’s comment at review: “Your performance in A and B has been outstanding. You need improvement in C and D. But overall, we are very satisfied with your performance.”

The man immediately picks up on the good points: “Why yes, I have been working very hard on A and B, and I’m glad you see it reflected in my performance.” And the doctor leaves thinking what a great job he’s done and how he really deserves a good raise.

The woman, on the other hand, is apologetic: “I’m sorry my performance in C and D has been disappointing. I know I need to work harder in those areas, and I’ll certainly do everything I can to meet your expectations.”

She just lost.

She moved the focus from her accomplishments to her weaknesses, and the doctor, who came in thinking what a grand job she’s done, leaves thinking about how much she needs to improve.

You get a lot of benefit from me

Women need to follow the lead of men again in asking for promotions.

Most women go about selling themselves by listing their accomplishments. And even then, they downplay those accomplishments or give much of the credit to other people.

Men don’t. They list all the things they’ve done, take full credit for them, and then make the sale by showing how those accomplishments translate to furthering the position they want to take over.

Whether it’s asking for a promotion or applying for a job, Milazzo says, the interview “is the selling process,” and the No. 1 rule is “Don’t focus on yourself. Focus on how you and your experience and skills can benefit the employer.”

The winning phrase in any interview is, “I can do this for you.”

Here’s how much I’m worth

Then there’s the money question.

Be confident and expect a raise. If the doctors ask the ultimate question, “Do you think you deserve a raise,” there’s no need for modesty. Don’t give the standard, “I’ve worked hard, but ultimately that’s your decision.” Say yes! And point to specific accomplishments as proof that a raise is warranted – and a good one at that.

How much?

About 50% of male employees negotiate their salaries and raises. Not women. Only 7% do any negotiating at all. And that’s another reason they end up on the low end of the pay scale.

Women need to step up and tell what they want. And be specific about the amount, she says. “Never offer a salary range.” Tell the doctors, “I’m looking for between $70,000 and $75,000,” and why should they pay more than $70,000?

Give a number, and make it higher than what’s acceptable so the doctors will counter with the target amount. Anybody who asks for the minimum “is probably leaving money on the table.”

Furthermore, be detached about it. “Don’t look desperate” for the money. Do that, and the offer is going to be low.

Women “are too ready to underprice themselves.” When it comes to salary, “they need to say it like a man and take what they deserve.”

Unpopular edict; strong manager

Beyond the performance review, women have day-to-day behaviors that keep them from reaching full potential, Milazzo says.

One is that they don’t always take responsibility for the unpleasantries that come along.

Suppose an edict comes down that there will be no raises or that bonuses are being cut. The manager disagrees with the decision and earlier spoke out against it to the doctors but was overruled. Now staff complain about it.

The male manager takes ownership in the edict. He uses first person such as “it was our decision” or “this is a decision I believe is necessary.”

The woman, however, dodges the blame.

She tells staff it was the doctors’ decision. She may even say she tried to get them to reconsider it. And while all of that is true, she has just told staff she’s weak and ineffective and not in control of her position. She has diminished her own authority and lost respect.

Worse, she has all but invited staff to go over her head and tell the doctors they don’t like it. And if they do so, she loses even more ground, because the doctors don’t want to deal with staff issues and complaints – that’s what they hired her to do.

You know them by their friends

More difference is found in the company women keep.

Men spend most of their time with their bosses and not much time at all with the people who report to them.

Women do the opposite. They champion the cause of their subordinates and tend to spend the bulk of their time with them.

And because people are seen as being on the level of the company they keep, the female manager is often perceived as being on the staff level, not the management level.

Milazzo’s advice: “Hang out with the supervisors and the doctors.” Be a part of the management team, not another complaining staffer.

Be the go-to person for problems

Men and women differ too in how they respond to complaints.

When somebody complains – whether staffer or patient – what that person wants to hear is either, “I will do something about this” or “I will address this with So-and-So who can take care of it.”

Either way, the complaint has reached the can-do-something-about-it person.

But a woman is usually too modest to show her power. She responds with, “I will get with my managers” while the manly response i,s “I’ll handle it.”

“People don’t want to talk with somebody who doesn’t have the ability to fix the problem,” Milazzo says. They want somebody who can and will take control of the situation, even if it’s somebody else who does the actual fixing.

Soak up the compliments

Finally, women lose ground in the way they respond to compliments.

Their downfall is that they too often “pass the compliment to the team.” And all the while the men are basking in the glory of the moment, “happy to own their accomplishments.”

Suppose the boss says “That was a good presentation on profitability that your group gave to the committee.”

The typical male response is: “Thank you. The committee’s positive reaction really made all those long nights and early mornings worth it. At first, my group wasn’t confident in the approach I came up with, but over time they really started to buy into my vision. I’m just pleased our hard work paid off.”

He’s acknowledging not only his good presentation but also his skill in pulling the team together and getting the job done.

Not so for the woman. She immediately comes back with a modest, “Oh, I can’t take credit for that; my team did all the work.”

She doesn’t even say thank you, which is an essential thing to say because it confirms that the compliment is justified. She’s taken a back seat. She’s not only killed the boss’s enthusiasm about the good presentation but has made it clear she doesn’t deserve compliments in the future.

Give credit to the people who helped with the project, Milazzo says, but accept the compliment. “Say thank you first” and then acknowledge the others – and then take a deep bow. “That shows confidence, and people who are confident appear to be competent.” They are the managers who succeed.









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