Image by: Kumar Appaiah
By Alexa Hughes
Being a woman in business is not always easy. For one thing, there is the challenge of somehow keeping the power necessary to run or spearhead a business, without turning people off. When it comes to working with others and building a motivating atmosphere, sometimes it is necessary to lend respect. For a newer female entrepreneur this can be an even more challenging road to navigate.
So how can you be sure to do it in the right way and avoid getting bossed around right back? Here are some helpful tips for knowing how to navigate these waters.
#1) Avoid a Boss Persona That Isn’t You
A lot of times when women come into a position of power they try to fill the boss role by taking on the persona that they assume that to mean. We do this all day in a variety of situations, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You might have a friend persona, a daughter in law, and a mother persona that are vastly different. The important thing is that come from an authentic part of you so that they are still you. If you try to take on a boss persona that is nothing like you, things are going to fall apart quickly.
Two popular boss persona’s that women take on are the more motherly type, or the very cold type that is assumed to be closer to how a lot of men run business. The difference between these really has to do with where emotional boundaries are being drawn. If you are naturally a nurturing person and it doesn’t distract to you mentor employees then by all means work that to your advantage. But if that is too much of a drain for you, don’t try to create that where it isn’t. On the flip side, don’t try to be less friendly if you a are just a friendly person.
It is crucial either way to be close enough to your employees that you can lead them, but not so close that the boundaries get mixed up and they feel confused when you switch from buddy to boss without warning. You can imagine that flipping back and forth creates an environment where your employees might not totally trust you, and if they catch onto where you feel unsure about your position of power they might even try to manipulate you to their advantage.
#2) Watch Out For Common Manipulation or Avoidance Tactics
Sometimes when employes try to get away with things it can feel pretty personal, but in general it usually just has to do with their own personality and production levels. The key is to not create an environment where they feel comfortable trying to get away with anything in the fist place. Look out for some common tactics that employees use.
One is feigning business when a new task comes up. This is a tricky one because you don’t want to go around accusing people of pretending to work when they are actually working, talk about a buzz kill. One of the best ways to stop an overburdened employee right in their tracks is to reassign their current project and talk specific dates and milestones they need to hit with this new one you are assigning. This puts you back into the place where you know exactly what they are actually doing and within how much time. Some people need a little more micromanaging than others and it is up to you to know when.
Some employees are skilled at changing the topic in a meeting or something when they are not exactly prepared on the topic at hand. They often bring up other valid points which do need to be dealt with so this tactic can be pretty promising. Think of the kid in school who pulls the fire alarm when he didn’t study for the test. To avoid this, have a clear agenda going into every meeting and keep everyone on topic by allotting any new discussions for the last few minutes or for an entirely different meeting.
#3) Lead With Trust, But Speak Up When It’s Broken
It is totally fine to assume that everyone has good intentions and that all of your employees are doing the right things all the time. But to avoid getting bossed around you are going to have to embrace the part of the process that involves calmly calling people out when they aren’t doing things right. This does not usually have to be a dramatic process either, and you don’t necessarily need to show the emotion where you feel hurt or betrayed by them. Keep it straight forward business, as a clear cut observation and you are wondering if maybe they wouldn’t look to so it differently next time around.
Pay attention to any urges that you have to micromanage, because those often come from your own levels of anxiety as opposed to what is actually happening with your employees. Try not to overstep their boundaries unless it is necessary.
Have you had the experience of trying to be the boss as as a business owner or entrepreneur but getting bossed around when you lend your respect? Let us know how you conquered it or if you are in the process of working on it!