Cues We Miss

How black women can improve their opportunities in the workplace

explains Briscoe, “but the question is whether you follow up on them.”

Career — derailing cues can also come from peers and reports. For example, co — workers might not invite you to lunches — where important information is often exchanged — or your staff may withhold critical feedback on initiatives. The underlying message may be that peers consider you difficult to work with. And your staff may fear criticism or have a problem with your authority.

To avoid miscues and keep your career on track, Frankel offers the following tips:
Understand corporate politics. Employees who have had their careers derailed tend to focus more on completing tasks than on building relationships. “There really has to be a balance,” maintains Frankel. “If you’re wondering why certain people get ahead and you stay in place while you work harder, it almost always has to do with relationships.”

Foster communication among the people who report to you. You don’t want people on your team to engage in subversive compliance in which they perform only requested tasks. You have to find ways to promote constructive dialogue with staff members. “In meetings, ask the tough questions like, ‘What can we do to be more effective?’ If employees are silent, thinking you’ll punish them, you’ve [most likely] created an unsafe environment,” Frankel says. “Silence is a cue. To find out what’s really going on, you’ve got to have an open conversation.”

Ask for feedback even if you work in an organization where feedback isn’t the norm. Frankel recommends questions like, “Could you tell me what I could do more or less of to be even more effective?” She suggests asking clients, customers, constituents, and colleagues. Also, if you are no longer invited to important meetings, find out why. Your approach, however, should not be defensive, especially when talking with a senior — level manager.

Build and market your personal brand in the workplace. “People who are most successful see themselves as a brand,” Frankel says. “They market it, get feedback about it, define it, and sell it.”

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