Webinar presenters Cecelia Rosser and Wendy Rich-GoldSchmidt answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Moving Beyond the Confidence Gap. Here are just a few of their responses.
Audience Question: Will the advice that you provided to both men and women during today’s presentation, could they apply to both men and women or people of color? For example, Michael shared; I am a male heterosexual employee and not only have experienced the exact same challenges and can relate to the behaviors that you’ve talked about today during your presentation but also he being an Iranian-American even though he’s skillful and has the experience including public speaking as well as there are factors that he can’t control. He’s adapted and refrained from viewing himself as a minority and yet has been passed over for promotional opportunity repeatedly. Is the advice that you are sharing during today’s presentation, could it be applied to both men and women in building their careers?
Cecelia Rosser: I’ll let Wendy comment on this one and Kim as well but certainly the focus of our program is trying to get women to learn to be more effective advocates. It certainly can apply because it’s not gender-specific but our learned behaviors and our patterns that perhaps are not effectively building the allies network. You’re gonna need to do that whether you’re a male or a female. You need to make people aware of your interest. It sounds like that Michael has done that. I think you need to seek those opportunities that are talking about what those skills are, make people aware of it, volunteer for opportunities so that you would get greater visibility, take on different tasks, get rotational assignments-those types of things.
Wendy Rich-GoldSchmidt: The only thing that I would add is the extent is permissible under whatever guidelines the promotional process is giving as much feedback as you can after the fact perhaps you’ve already done that. But as Cecilia mentioned, oftentimes getting that feedback and then having an insightful one on one conversation in your mind can be very helpful.
Audience Question: You talked today about competence and confidence. Research shows that women will always strive to be overqualified for a role while men will have the confidence to apply for a role even when they are unqualified. I think the number is 60 percent. They meet the requirements about 60 percent. How do you recommend we overcome these self-limiting thought processes of having to be virtually overqualified for a job?
Wendy Rich-GoldSchmidt: I would love to answer that one. I found myself with that exact scenario in the last few jobs that I had. And frankly, it really went back to the part where we talked about some self-talk. In my mind, I played over and over this idea of if it’s not me then who and if not now then when? Kind of convincing myself if you will to recognize that I was qualified even though I wasn’t 100 percent comfortable with all of the duties I knew that I was going to be taking on but just really sitting down and having a conversation in my own head again to really kind of encourage myself, to prime myself If you will for a more positive outlook. I think the small things that we do to build up confidence help us along the way to feel that when that big moment comes along, we feel a little bit more competent about putting into the job and recognizing that our resume is something that we should be very proud of and something that you can compete against the pool of every people who are a top of very competent and good employees or good applicants as well.
Cecelia Rosser: If I could just add to that, I think also, taking the opportunity to really self-evaluate and realize that when they’re looking for leaders in an organization, they’re not necessarily focusing just on your technical competency. You don’t have to do everything at the job at the level at which you were at. What we are generally looking for are people who can manage people and solve problems. We sometimes undervalue our experience and our ability in that area and we see this time and after time in class when women talk about their experience and they say, well I’ve been only out with three years, four years or eight years whatever but you don’t focus on to be a leader. It’s not your technical skills necessarily that are always what’s valued. It’s your leadership skills and your people skills that are valued.
Audience Question: When you’re describing marketing yourself, it’s often discussed with undergraduates in business programs at universities. Do you think that marketing yourself and managing your career should also be talked about early as an officer in their careers? Perhaps at the academy or perhaps something that should be something where coaching new employees early in their term or tenure at a new agency. What are your thoughts in terms of how can we start encouraging that thinking process earlier by engaging that thinking with an SPO or at the academy?
Wendy Rich-GoldSchmidt: I think one of the things is just I’m itching to have to say this even though its a little bit not completely on point with the question. But because social media is such a significant issue for so many people I think we are having a conversation around how to market yourself and remembering that everything you rant on social media is telling a story about who you are. And I know that in reviewing applicants for many years more recently, obviously it’s been more of an obvious issue but people who have used social media inappropriately, you’re marketing yourself obviously in the reverse. So just really recognizing the value of being under a microscope particularly in this profession, and recognizing its not only important to market yourself and how you want to be seen 3 and 5 years from here but recognizing that everything you do today has the potential of harming your ability to be seen as somebody who is valued to the organization 3 to 5 years from now. Everything you do is being watched. We’re in a fishbowl and it’s a part of law enforcement, corrections, and public safety. That’s how we operate. I feel like this needs to be said and I apologize for just not giving at the core part of the question.
Cecelia Rosser: I just think that the earlier we can get these to people in their careers. When we’re doing the research for adding this to our program, more and more research are showing that and as far as we stress it, if you don’t as a leader develop allies so that when you’re getting to that first supervisory level. If you don’t focus and take some time to develop relationships with your peers and with people that you’re gonna need as allies, you’re not going to be successful as a leader, and nobody ever tells you that. We always focus on the technical stuff but the political, practical stuff should I think be introduced the minimum when one is making the transition from an officer to a supervisor or a civilian manager to a supervisor. And then how do you advocate effectively? How do you get resources? How do you advocate for resources as a supervisor? I think these are all things that we should be including, instill in our supervisory training that we’re not doing. It makes a good point. We should be doing it earlier in people’s careers.
Audience Question: You mentioned the Heidi and Howard study. Hasn’t there been research also been done with ethnically sounding names or culturally-diverse sounding names the same result ends up happening as well?
Wendy Rich-GoldSchmidt: Absolutely. This really goes into the whole idea about looking at how we’re writing job descriptions. How we are identifying people that we want and value in our organization but doing so in a blind manner so to speak so that we’re tracking. We’re writing job descriptions, for example; working in a competitive environment is going to appeal to men much more than working in a collaborative environment and vice versa with women. So looking at something as simple as how we write a job description or how we view applicants- are Suzy and Cherry more likely names to get the nod than Jamal and Jamica. Those are the conversations that are very critical and going on in the HR world right now, but as leaders, we need to be working with them to recognize the value of making sure that we are looking at this from an unbiased standpoint. There’s a software program out there that basically can override certain descriptors so that you are looking at information from a filtered lens and it really provides a better, level playing field of getting all applicants into your potential pipeline.
Audience Question: In corporate, we often have an end-of-week or end-of-month report where you discussed what you’ve accomplished, what you have coming up and any roadblocks that you’re running into. Again typically it’s done at the end of the week or end of the month. Should the same kind of reporting be happening in law enforcement and other justice agencies as well?
Cecelia Rosser: I knew that we were actually doing the same type of thing in a non-profit world. We had a monthly event that we did that is similar type of exercise which is essentially a form of project management yardsticks and milestones.
Wendy Rich-GoldSchmidt: I think to follow up on that we need to have our own personal concept process with the accountability on implementing some of the things that we talked about today. We just talked about it. If we don’t hold ourselves accountable, we’re not gonna make the behavioral changes that we need to get ourselves unstuck.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Moving Beyond the Confidence Gap.