Tag Archives: sponsorship

Career Advancement as Contest – Tournament and How to Win

Olivia Mandy O'Neill

Olivia Mandy O’Neill

If you work in an organization, you gave tacit agreement to participate in a Workplace Tournament, according to (Olivia) Mandy O’Neill of Wharton and Charles O’Reilly of Stanford.
They contend that careers unfold as a series of tournaments in which employees at lower levels compete with each other for career advancement.

Charles O'Reilly

Charles O’Reilly

The prevalence of implicit workplace contests was validated in O’Reilly’s study of executive pay with University of Edinburgh’s Brian G M Main and James Wade, now of Emory University.

Brian G.M. Main

Brian G.M. Main

“Winners” in the contest for advancement shared two characteristics in O’Neill and O’Reilly’s study MBA graduates’ incomes over an eight-year period.

James Wade

James Wade

Those with highest incomes four years after graduation said they preferred “masculine” organizational culture, and this relationship was stronger for women than men.

Eight years after graduation, men’s salaries were significantly higher than women’s, attributable to the greater number of hours men worked per week.
During this period, many women MBA graduates took time off or reduced the number of hours work to care for relatives, reducing the average number of hours worked.

One non-MBA mother whose income did not suffer is Marissa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo.
In 2012, she took two weeks for parental leave, and her total compensation for the year was USD $36.6 Million.

Phyllis Tharenou

Phyllis Tharenou

Organizational hierarchies dominated by men were preferred by high-earners, and were associated with women advancing less frequently into lower and middle management, according to Phyllis Tharenou, now of Flinders University.

Employees with managerial aspirations and masculine preferences were more likely to advance in management roles, she found.
However, these effects were offset by “career encouragement” such as mentoring and structured career development programs.

Denise Conroy

Denise Conroy

With Denise Conroy of Queensland Technology University, Tharenou studied more than 600 female managers and 600 male managers across six organizational levels.
Women’s and men’s advancement was most closely correlated with workplace development opportunities and organizational structure, suggesting that structural, policy and program changes can increase the number of women in top leadership roles.

Women tend to excel in explicit workplace contests, such as in public sector jobs.
In contrast, women have less experience capitalizing on organizational “sponsorship” by advocates for their advancement.
Taken together, these studies suggest that women can improve opportunities for advancement by:

  • Recognizing that advancement is a tournament,
  • Behaving as a strategic competitor,
  • Communicating interest in advancement,
  • Seeking employment in organizations with formal career advancement programs, mentoring, and development training,
  • Seeking employment in organizations that support flexible work practices and use technology to enable employees to work “anytime, anywhere,”
  • Becoming comfortable operating in “masculine” organizations,
  • Identifying social support inside organizations,
  • Seeking and cultivating advocates and sponsors.-*How do you manage workplace “tournaments” for career advancement?

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Do Women Advance in Careers More Slowly than Men?

Herminia Ibarra

Herminia Ibarra

Men received 15% more promotions than women, according to a Catalyst Benchmarking Survey.

Similar numbers of “high potential” women and men were selected for lateral moves to other parts of the business.
However, men but not women, received promotions after the career-developing lateral moves.

Nancy M. Carter

Nancy M. Carter

Women’s developmental lateral moves were substitutes for actual career advancement, suggested INSEAD’s Hermina Ibarra with Nancy M. Carter and Christine Silva of Catalyst.
Similarly, women receive social accounts – or explanations – as substitutes for salary increases.

Virginia Valian

Virginia Valian

This type of implicit bias was related to men’s being consistently overrated while women are underrated by coworkers, bosses and themselves, found Hunter College’s Virginia Valian.
Resulting discrepancies in opportunity accrue over time to create large gaps in advancement, she asserted.

In addition, women are typically evaluated in relation to a “masculine” standard of leadership, reported Catalyst’s earlier research outlining three predicaments that can undermine leadership and advancement opportunities:

  • Extreme Perceptions, in which women are perceived as enacting extreme behaviors, such as “toughness” or “niceness,”
  • High Competence Threshold, when women leaders are held to higher standards and receive lower rewards than men,
  • Competent but Disliked, as women may be perceived either as “competent” or “likeable” but not both.
Phyllis Tharenou

Phyllis Tharenou

Family structure can accelerate or slow career progress in unexpected ways.
Both “post traditional” mothers who have employed spouses, and “traditional” fathers whose wives are engaged in childcare only, more rapidly advanced in private sector careers than women and men with other family configurations, reported Phyllis Tharenou of Flinders University.
Somewhat surprisingly, non-parent women and men, and unmarried fathers   advanced more slowly in their careers.

Employment disruption, such as maternity leave or layoff, did not impair career advancement for women and men, but the industry sector was associated with differing rates of career advancement.

Alice Eagly

Alice Eagly

In a separate analysis, Tharenou noted that the strongest predictors of advancing in management were managerial aspirations and masculinity.
Women were more likely to advance when they received career encouragement and when organizational hierarchies included both women and men.

To explain career advancement rate discrepancies, University of Massachusetts’ Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli of Wellesley suggested that women encounter a career labyrinth rather than a glass ceiling.

Linda Carli

Linda Carli

Differences in career advancement rates may be narrowed by sponsorship rather than mentorship, argued Catalyst and Center for Talent Innovation.
Male advocates can focus attention on the challenges women face at work and can advocate for organizational processes and structures that normalize equivalent competence in women and men.

  • What type of “career encouragement” enable women to advance in careers at a rate similar to men?

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Women’s Career Development Model – Individual Action in Negotiation, Networking-Mentoring-Sponsorship, Skillful Self-Promotion – Part 2 of 2

Kenexa Career Development Model-Individual Behaviors

Kenexa Career Development Model-Individual Behaviors

Part 1 of this post, Women’s Career Development Model – Individual Action in Career Planning and the Contest and Sponsorship Pathways to Advancement – Part 1 of 2,  highlighted Ines Wichart’s model of women’s career development with three levels and 11 components, based on her research as Kenexa High Performance Institute (KHPI), a subsidiary of IBM.

Ines Wichert

Ines Wichert

She outlined four behaviors that individuals can control or influence toward career advancement:

  • Career planning 
  • Opportunity-seeking, Negotiation
  • Career-building networking; Mentoring-Sponsorship    
  • Skillful self-promotion

The first segment of this two-part post considered facets of Career Planning and two independent paths to career advancement: Contest and Sponsorship routes.

Let’s consider the additional elements that respond to individual attention and efforts, including Opportunity-seeking while embracing risk.  

Susan Vinnicombe

Susan Vinnicombe

Val Singh

Val Singh

Highly effective career advancement opportunities include stretch assignments and on-the-job training.

Susan Vinnicombe and Val Singh of Cranfield University report that these development activities are most effective in building credibility, visibility, reputation as a capable, well-rounded leader.

However, their research found that women need more encouragement to take on challenging assignments than men, who are more likely to ask for these assignments.

Linda Babcock

Linda Babcock

Similarly, Linda Babcock reported that women tend to need encouragement to ask for promotions and salary increases.

Her research demonstrated that women are less likely to negotiate for their first salaries, unless they know that these are acceptable practices.

Manhattan CollegeAs a countermeasure, Babcock recommends negotiation practices demonstrated to mitigate negative perceptions by both men and women negotiation partners

Like Babcock, Mary Wade’s research at Manhattan College found that both men and women evaluated more negatively women who negotiated for salary using the same script as men.

Corinne Moss-Racusin

Corinne Moss-Racusin

Laurie Rudman

Laurie Rudman

Corinne Moss-Racusin and Laurie Rudman replicated this disconcerting finding at Rutgers University, leading to their formulation of “The Backlash Avoidance Model” (BAM)”.

According to this construct, women may demonstrate traditional gender role behaviors to mitigate “backlash” of negative reaction by men and women to “role discrepant” behaviors like asking for career advancement and commensurate compensation.

  • What approaches have been effective when you have asked for a salary increase or promotion?
         –How did you prepare?

         -How did you overcome objections?
  • When people ask you for a salary increase or promotion, what negotiation approaches have been most effective?
              -What have been least effective?

Wichart’s model of individual initiatives toward career advancement points to the importance of skillful professional networking, mentoring, and sponsorship.

National Center for Women and Information TechnologyNational Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) reported that nearly half of technical women surveyed said they lack role models and mentors, and 84% said they lack sponsors.
The result is that these women are four times more likely to leave the current job role.

One reason that women’s professional networking efforts and seeking mentors may yield less effective career advancement than men:  Women tend to engage in professional networking for affiliation and emotional support with people close to their job level whereas men tend to network for career development with people significantly above the job level, according to Adelina Broadbridge of University of Stirling.University of Stirling

As a result of these differing approaches to professional networking, men may enjoy more rapid career advancement due to visibility and sponsorship.

Pamela Perrewe

Pamela Perrewe

F. Randy Blass

F. Randy Blass

In addition, women are likely to demonstrate less political understanding and insight because mentors are not sufficiently senior, according to Florida State University’s F. Randy Blass, Pamela Perrewe, and Gerald Ferris with Robyn Brouer of SUNY Buffalo.

Gerald Ferris

Gerald Ferris

Robyn Brouer

Robyn Brouer

Organizational support for formal and informal mentoring has been shown to increase employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention.

Therefore, organizations concerned with retaining talented women and minorities can increase the likelihood of keeping skilled employees by initiating structured mentoring programs and encouraging selective sponsorship.

  •  How have mentors and sponsors enabled your career moves?
  •  How do you decide who you are willing to mentor or sponsor?   

Previous posts have shared much current research and leading recommendations in building personal brand and practicing skillful self-promotion:

In light of the potential negative perceptions of women who showcase their accomplishments as they ask for salary increases and role advancement:

  •   How do you raise awareness of your accomplishments’ impact to avoid “backlash”?
  •   How do you define, develop, and communicate, “skillfully promote” your personal brand?

These research findings suggest three parting suggestions for women who want to Play Bigger:

  1. Question the thought that “I’m not ready yet.”
  2. Develop resilience and “a thick skin”:   If you are doing something innovative or important, you may draw both praise and criticism when you are noticed.
  3. Filter advice:  Implement recommendations that have “the ring of truth” and “resonate”;
    leave the rest.
  • What is the most helpful career advice you implemented?
  • What career advice have you decided not to implement?

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