Increasing Future Potential Of Women Managers
As a general rule, female managers are more pessimistic about their
promotability than their male counterparts. And there is a valid basis for this
perception. Professor Caroline Cochran of the University of Minnesota studied
more than 2,800 high potential mangers. Each of these mangers filled out a
questionnaire analyzing their perceptions of their own performance. These high
potential managers' supervisors were also asked to evaluate performance.
Women received slightly higher ratings than men with respect to managerial
competence in their present positions. Men, however, received significantly
higher ratings than women with respect to perceived long range potential. This
research confirms other studies which show that gender stereotype plays more of
a role in evaluating future potential than it does in evaluating current
managerial performance. When evaluating future potential, evaluators are making
many assumptions. Current performance evaluation lends itself to more visible
The Role of Self Confidence
Self-confidence plays a role in how your boss perceives your longer term
promotability. But it plays a surprising role. Women's ratings of their own
performance were generally in line with the ratings given to them by superiors.
In other words, women displayed realistic self-appraisal. Male managers' self
ratings were inflated relative to how they were actually perceived by superiors.
The fact that women managers get fewer promotions was documented by
Personnel Decisions, Inc. of Minneapolis, our Lincolnshire International
affiliate. The firm studied 800 managers at one organization. The majority of "promotions"
in this company were really lateral moves when you closely evaluate job content.
When examining work and title changes where power or responsibility
significantly moved upward, nearly 15% of male managers received real
promotions. Women only received nearly 9% of real promotions.
What's To Be Done?
These studies suggest the following action strategies for female managers:
Carefully Scrutinize the "Future Promotability" Component of the
Performance Appraisal. Male managers are likely to insist on high ratings in
this category, even if they don't deserve it. Insist on the most
glowingstatements you can get, just like males do. Such insistance establishes a
tone that you have high expectations for promotion. If your company is ever
acquired, then you have a strong and consistent paper trail of superiors noting
your high upward mobility potential.
In a more ideal world, the operating motto should be "Competence Gets
Rewarded." As these studies indicate, we are more than a few years away
from that world!
Laurence J. Stybel,Ed.D. and Maryanne Peabody are co-founders of
Stybel Peabody Lincolnshire, a Boston-based career management consulting firm
specializing in executives who report to Boards of Directors. Corporate
sponsored services include retained search, retained search avoidance, career
coaching, and behavioral turn-arounds. They can be contacted at 781/736-0900 or email@example.com. There are Lincolnshire
office in twenty five cities in three