Help please with sexism at work (from a woman!)(7 Posts)
I have always received high performance ratings at work, but the same criticisms: that I need to work on my “soft skills”, that I’m too confident, that I need to consider others’ opinions more, etc. I’m getting very frustrated as I’ve really tried to improve these areas but am still getting the same feedback.
I don’t see how my soft skills can be that bad when I’ve always got on well with colleagues (even the difficult ones), have worked in teams without any problems, and have always managed to get the job done. I admit that I’m not the most sociable person ever created, but I’m always friendly, polite and professional at work (feedback that I have also received from others).
I feel this is all part of a sexual double standard that a man just wouldn’t be held to. The worst part is that my manager is a woman!
I’d be really grateful for any words of wisdom from anyone who has experienced similar.
Unless you have a union and assistance in grieving this review that is bordering on harassment since it is repetitive then the only suggestion I can make is to make them be specific. Ask for a sit down and get the boss to explain the behavior they want you to model. This loosy goosy be less confident and consider others opinions is too vague, and as criticism in a performance review goes is useless. A proper performance review gives you a path forward and your boss is not doing that.
Caveat is that it depends on what your job is. If you really are overbearing and your boss does not want to say something quite that harsh but you are offending co workers or clients you need to get a self help book and work on it. A proper performance review gives you a path forward and your boss is not doing that.
It is hard when we make the effort and instead of encouragement we get the same old shtick.
A man wouldn't be held to.
How do you know that?, sounds pretty sexist to me.
Fwiw if that was said to me I would also wonder 'would a man recieve this feedback'. There is definitely a double standard expecting women to be all 'nicey nicey' in giving and opinion etc.
Are you overbearing? Or do you find the boss sexist in other ways? You must know which one it is I should think.
It's a criticism that can feel very hurtful and I've experienced it in a couple of performance reviews. There may well be a mixture of unfounded or discriminatory opinions and reality in the criticism and a powerful tool for addressing the criticism is to ask for specific examples where your alleged behavior negatively impacted either your productivity or someone else's.
If it's not too personal or risks your privacy, would you mind describing (as explicitly or ambiguously as you're comfortable with) what your role entails?
Sorry but isn't it sexist to assume a man wouldn't be given that feedback? I've been giving a man feedback on this issue recently - for him to think about his impact on others. He has a tendency to push ahead with his own ideas and be too forceful in imposing his views and drive for delivery. This can be too heavy handed and oppressive especially with regards to more junior colleagues.
You have a couple of options -
1) to ask for specific examples that demonstrate what the problem is and advice on how they feel you should've handled it
2) in addition to 1) ask for coaching - there are assessment tools that can help you understand your impact on others and a coach could help you identify other approaches and styles
3) get a 360 review do you can see what your colleagues really think of you.
Of course these options will depend on whether your employer is ready to offer these forms of help. But 1) seems practical and sensible.
Generally I'd say the sexism works the other way - women who are good at getting on with people assumed not to be as bright/ambitious as their male colleagues.
Alternatively you could just choose to assume they want you to do the best you can as that will add most value to the organisation!
I had to give similar feedback to a team member in a similar scenario. It was well meant, I genuinely rated her skills but her human skills alienated colleagues and I needed it to improve. She didn't take it well. She handed in her notice. She promptly bad mouthed the rest of the team to her new team, which was lovely when we had to help them.
Her skills were a loss to the team but her attitude being gone was a relief to all. She would not accept any constructive feedback which was a real shame as she would have gone far with just a few improvements.
I still think honesty was the best thing to do as a line manager but I regret offering her that gift of constructive feedback and clearly she didn't deserve it.
Advice to you, if you can bear it, decide whether you can handle truthful feedback and if so then ask her to be honest with you to help you to improve. But you need to listen and accept it with the good intensions meant.
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