If you are about to start working with men or you already are and just want to have more success, you may be nervous about where to start. You might be worried about coming across as too strong, aggressive, or bitchy. You might not be confident in yourself because you don’t really understand men. You might be uncomfortable, awkward, and quiet around the men you work with. I was. I could relate more with women on my team, but I knew that understanding men was the key to getting promoted and having more leadership opportunities. Learning how to manage both genders successfully was the key for me to finally getting ahead at work.
Here are the 5 keys that you need to know when working with men:
#1: Stop Being a Perfectionist
Striving for perfection is actually one of those things that you think would be a great strength to have as a female leader but it can be especially negative when working with men who don’t have the same concern for perfection. After my male boss told me not to be perfect, I realized that men don’t strive for perfection like women often do. The other woman working for me and I eventually moved positions and two men took our place. They laugh, have fun and don’t stress about making things perfect. And guess what? The ship doesn’t sink. We are all imperfect and trying to get to perfect can come with a lot of stress. Also, perfection kills creativity, which is very important when managing a team.
#2: Don’t Try to Be Someone You Aren’t
Your success as a manager depends on how confidently and comfortably you are leading. You want to be authentic and never want to act like someone you aren’t. My first experience as a manager was not great, but I learned from it. I didn’t get the respect I deserved from the man I managed because I was trying to be like his previous manager instead of being like myself. I was afraid of confrontation and was not comfortable leading. He could tell I was uncomfortable and he didn’t respect me because of it. Be proud of your female leadership strengths and don’t try to manage like a man. Female leaders have many great leadership strengths to be proud of such as collaboration, intuition and empathy.
#3: Get Straight to the Point
Cutting to the chase quickly is really important when managing men. One of the biggest mistakes a female manager can make is to communicate with a man the same way she would communicate with a woman. Your speaking style really needs to change depending on who you are talking to. But don’t worry; it really is quite simple to communicate with a man. When you are speaking to a male employee, keep it short and sweet. If you can reduce the time you spend in the conversation and get to the point as quickly as possible, the more success you will have.
#4: Don’t Be Afraid to Assert Yourself
Assertiveness is an easy way to quickly gain respect from the men on your team and it can help men become more confident in you. Men respect a woman who speaks her mind and challenges others. Men want to hear your voice because you have different strengths than them and you bring a different viewpoint to the team. Men also expect interruptions because that is what they are used to when they are around other men. Therefore, your assertiveness won’t be seen as overbearing (or bitchy!). When you waver or ask for reassurance, you lose trust and respect. If you sweat, your team sweats. If you simply go along with what other people say, you lose credibility.
#5: Embrace the Competition
It’s no secret that men like to compete. You can even trace the role of competition in a man’s upbringing back to his childhood. Your goal is to make men’s love of competition work positively for your entire team. You should create opportunities for your employees to cooperatively compete with each other even if your current work environment is non-competitive. Competition can help men excel beyond what they or even you thought possible. You should push them, which will often lead to higher-quality work.
Follow these tips while working with men and you will quickly gain confidence and build trust.
P.S. If you enjoyed this article and work with men, I would be honored if you read my book, The Professional Woman’s Guide to Managing Men too!
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