We returned from the Thanksgiving break to find an e-mail from a client, rich with musings about the plight of senior-level women in the workplace. “With a few days to breathe and filled with holiday spirit,” she wrote what is to be the first in a series entitled Grim Fairy Tales. “Stories of a land where professional princesses are routinely upended by a Prince Harming or two, and sometimes by an Evil Step Mother/Sister.”
We suspect she is on to something and thought that by sharing her tale, you might recognize the situations and relate to her insights.
Read on to see if your career or job resides within Grim Fairy Tales….
The Too Common Tale of Senior-level Cinderella:
Do all the chores, never get invited to the ball!
Are you a Senior-level Cinderella?
You are super talented at getting things done. It does not matter whether you are given the resources or enough work-time to complete these objectives, you get the job done.
You are driven by the belief that as you continue to reap success from the most barren of situations, you will prove—beyond doubt—that you are willing and amazingly capable.
Can you identify with the following Senior-level Cinderella situations?
Talented Trouble Shooter: Given mice and pumpkin to get a tall task done. Cinderella has an excellent track record. She has delivered on all the objectives—be it business development, budgets, or team development. As a reward, she is moved into another trouble-spot in the organization so she can work her magic and clean things up. Take away: No promotion, no raise, not even additional resources…a lot of praise, yes (its free!). Cinderella consistently falls for this because she is a team player and she sees opportunity. She tells herself, “Surely if I get this done I will be invited to the ball.”
Not the Right Fit: Prince Harming gave you the wrong shoes…then gives you the “not right fit” or “not ready” or “you are not that person” speech.
Once again you have exceeded expectations, gone above and beyond what was outlined in the task (in fact you may have crossed the limited imagination of Prince Harming as he set your obstacle course), and have done so with few resources and little support. It is review time and you expect a handsome reward. Instead, Prince Harming gives you another pair or wrong-sized shoes (bad raise, no promotion, another leper assignment) coupled with one of the following talks:
“Cinderella, in order to get the job promotion/plum assignment you have expressed interest in you needed to have managed more than pumpkin and mice. In ‘that’ job you will have to manage horses and charioteer…you do not yet have that experience.”
“You were really amazing; the President/CEO of the company has taken notice and personally mentioned to me that your work was great. Due to your extraordinary ability, we want to give you this next (leper) assignment…and since you worked so well with mice and pumpkin in your last assignment, we will let you continue with those resources.”
“Congratulations, you did very well. I fought for a higher raise than my budget allowed because you got the job done, in spite of it being challenging. As far as the promotion, it is just not possible at this time. You do not have the right background. You see, Prince Flashy Smile has an MBA from Harvard and we have not given him the title yet. Ah yes…you are right. He did not have to do what you did, but had he been given the assignment, he would have done it well, too. After all, he ‘did’ go to Harvard….”
Are you in a Grim Fairy Tale? If so, please share your stories/experiences….
And…should you be a Fairy Godmother, we all would love some help with these questions:
- Where can Cinderella change her strategies/approach to work?
- What professional conclusions can Cinderella draw from her situation?
- Does she stay or leave?