One author’s recommendations on how to manage women in the workplace (from a decidedly male perspective).
by Leading Associates
I always imagined myself as King Leonites leading his 300 Spartans or fueling the competitive camaraderie in the boiler room. Instead, in my first management position, I might as well have been coach Jimmy Dugan on front of his Peaches. I inherited a team of women…older women.
There would be no “rally the troops” speeches. At least, not the kind I used out on the soccer field with the boys. I kicked off my first lunch meeting trying to explain why for the life of me I didn’t order thin crust pizza and how I could possibly forget it was diet Coke. Needless to say, I took home the leftovers.
There are obvious differences between the genders. Those differences are magnified even more when you throw in a massive age difference. Leading older women is a crash course in Management 101. I’ll never understand the female mystique (that seems to transcend generations), but here’s an attempt from a male perspective:
1. Women are very particular, but not in the same way.
Merill hates it when you put her on speaker phone, Jan gets offended if you don’t say good morning, Cindy always has to sit in that particular place in the conference room…These are all the little idiosyncrasies that makes each woman unique. The idiosyncrasies that are never told to you, but somehow expected to be figured out.
The way you communicate and the way you delegate work needs to be changed up to match the woman. There’s no rhyme or reason. You just need to go with the flow to get the job done.
2. Chivalry is an easy way to win points on stressful days
Older women love it! Opening doors, picking stuff up for them, letting them be first in and out of the elevator. It’s easy, and it’s free. When month’s end rolls around, things get fast and furious. Taking the time to remember the little things actually goes a long way.
Honestly, I think this concept crosses the generation gap. I know these days we’re all about Miss Independent, but there’s something about being a gentleman that all women take notice of.
3. Up the charm to up their work load
Okay, this may seem manipulative, but I’ve seen way too many girls use their good looks to get what they want. I have no shame! The best days are when these older ladies get their hair done. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
Some “Hey, Suzy, your hair looks lovely!” talk about it for two to three minutes…Then, “Hey, I’ve got this report that needs to get out to corporate…”
Once again: no shame.
4. Gossip is queen
You have to be political…and sometimes a babysitter. This is probably what I hate the most. Women can be so catty with each other. From the training bra to menopause, it doesn’t really seem to change. Whenever you throw women into the mix, you have to seriously manage relationships. I know it goes the same with men, but I strongly believe women are worse.
Learning from the opposite sex takes a lot of time and understanding. It seems that, for the purpose of streamlining, the default in Corporate America is to be a man. We can’t let our gender-based differences become an excuse for lazy management. We all need to learn from the opposite sex. Developing your leadership requires understanding of both Mars and Venus. The truth is, women are wired differently…and I believe that’s a good thing.