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The Great Career Advice Women Give Each Other

My BNET colleague, Penelope Trunk, has stirred up a bit of a controversy with her article The Terrible Career Advice Women Give Each Other. Many of the people who have commented think her advice is a tad misguided. I do have to say I agree with her point about biology: You aren't getting any younger and it is harder to get pregnant the older you get. Sorry, but those are the facts of life and if you don't believe me, take a trip to your local fertility doctor and sit in the waiting room for a while.

But, that's not career advice, that's medical and family planning advice (which I should not give and neither should your co-workers, boss, or HR department). Your boss should be staying out of your family planning decisions. I'm not saying that such things don't get discussed at the office, but it's not career advice.

Perhaps Penelope hasn't had the opportunity to meet with the fabulous women I know, but here is some career advice from women that I think is spot on.

Susan Heathfield, the guide to Human Resources writes: "Employees need to understand that they have an obligation to report sexual harassment concerns to their supervisor or the Human Resources office." And in case you are wondering what constitutes sexual harassment, Susan has an excellent sexual harassment policy and definition.

Sexual harassment occurs when one employee makes continued, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, to another employee, against his or her wishes.
So, report sexual harassment. The stuff you handle yourself is when Bob asks you on a date and you don't want to go. You say, "Thank you for asking, Bob, but I'm not interested in anything but a professional relationship with you." And when Steve says, "That's a nice dress," you say, "thank you." If it bothers you, you say, "Thanks, Steve, but I'd appreciate it if you don't comment on my clothing." When Bob hangs dirty pictures in his cube and Steve persistently rubs your shoulders while he tells you how pretty your dress is, that's when you report it.

Alison Green, who blogs at Ask A Manager, gives advice on how to handle an unprofessional boss. She writes: "Talk to [your gossiping boss] face-to-face and in private and say, "I understand that you're unhappy with some of my work. I'd really like to hear your concerns so that I can work on whatever I need to do differently."" This is fabulous advice. Talking directly to the person you're having a problem with leads to better long term relationships than running to HR ever will.

Lisa Rosendahl, who blogs at Simply Lisa, talks about leadership: "Leadership is a series of course corrections and it always comes back to the leader." She's right. Leaders have to be willing to make changes. If there are problems, you, as the leader need to change what you are dong.

Shauna Moerke, who blogs at HR Minion, also gives advice on becoming a leader: "The successful leaders seek out mentors." You know what? You don't know it all. Not now, not ever. Seek out a mentor. You have to be humble enough to know you need help.

These are some of the women I've received career advice from. I would suggest you follow their ideas rather than eschewing all female counsel. My all time favorite piece of career advice (or rather career warning), though, came from a Sr. VP of HR that I used to work for. When she was interviewing me and asked why I wanted to manage people, I gave her some answer about how I had a lot to share and blah, blah, blah. She said, "Suzanne, managing people is a pain in the rear." She was right. And she was a great leader and a great manager, and a great woman. And I'm glad I didn't go into my management role thinking that it was all about sharing my ideas.

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