Welcome to spring! In many parts of the country, winter just wouldn’t let up this year. With Spring comes baseball season, a special treat for those of us in Houston and our Houston Astros World Series Champions.
This month I write about our role in teams. I hear many women feel conflicted when conveying their role in a team. They feel guilty if they claim credit for the team’s work, yet their own contribution may get lost in the team’s accomplishment. This is a common issue among women, and one which I address in workshops and coaching. If you would like to feel more confident when talking about your role in a team or getting recognition for your hard work, coaching may be right for you.
P.S. For those of you who were curious and/or offering encouragement in my training for the 10K in April, I thank you. However, I got sick in early March and wasn’t able to recover enough to train until my target race had passed. What’s the message here? Goals are good and I’m working on my next fitness goal. But let’s also remember to take care of ourselves along the way!
What’s Your Contribution to the Team?
p>There’s no “I” in teamwork. How often have we heard that? But the practical reality is that when you’re working as a team, when it’s time for performance reviews and promotions, your boss and advocates want to know what YOU have achieved.
Our unique accomplishments can get lost in the work of the team, and even worse, it can feel like bragging if we try to claim our individual contributions.
If you study gender communications, you will find that in the masculine mode of communication, the speaker is much more comfortable speaking of his or her accomplishments and claiming credit. (OK, let’s be honest, that’s mostly men. Women often feel odd speaking in the masculine mode.)
Women tend to be far less comfortable discussing what they have done individually, even when they’re the sole contributor. When they’re a member of a team, the message is even further muddled. It’s important to use the word “I” when talking about your unique contribution to a group effort. To be recognized for our work in a team, we have to know how to “get credit and share credit”.
A woman in one of my gender communications workshops told of her major accomplishment during the year. She had led a team of people implementing a new IT system. For many of us, talking about systems implementations conjures up mental pictures of people sitting at computers in back rooms doing technical things we don’t understand. So it can be difficult for this woman to convey her unique contribution in leading the team to a listener.
For someone to understand what YOU contributed, they need to be able to picture it in their mind.
It has to be something that they can visualize happening. This woman’s accomplishment was lost in a long description of systems talk. When I worked with her to gain a deeper understanding of the value she added, I discovered through coaching that she had created an automated tool that enabled her team to test a large number of transactions without manual intervention. Her idea was implemented and as a result, the implementation was completed ahead of schedule with a much higher degree of data integrity than had been previously experienced. Thus, lots of dollars in cost savings!
After coaching and learning how to communicate her accomplishments, she was able to claim her idea for the tool, and still give credit to her team for their contributions. The impression left from this change in communication style was a dramatic and positive change for her.
Here are two tips to remember when talking about your accomplishments:
Distinguish between your individual contribution and that of the team. One way to clarify this is to ask yourself the question, “What would be missing if I weren’t on the team?”
When describing what you’ve done, use simple language that paints a picture. Ask yourself, if I had to draw what I did, what would that look like? Help the listener visualize what you’re saying. Adjust your language to the degree of familiarity that the audience has with the subject matter.
In my gender communications workshops, we explore different modes of communication and how they impact us in business. How we talk about our work impacts the impressions we leave, the credit we get and as a result, our own sense of satisfaction for our work. If you don’t feel you’re getting your message across, let’s talk about how coaching may help. Sign up for a free consultation now.
Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan: Mindfulness is a hot topic these days. We’re beginning to recognize that people are more effective in all aspects of our lives, including business, if we’re centered and self-aware. Chade-Meng Tan is an engineer at Google who developed mindfulness training for Google employees. The book is lighthearted, practical and instructional. I’ve implemented some of the author’s recommendations and find it enhances my perspective.
Susan Hodge created Women Leading Together in order to provide one-on-one executive coaching, seminars, workshops, and coaching circles to help career women move forward to create fulfilling professional lives. Visit our newly redesigned website at www.WomenLeadingTogether.com
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