Are you fed up with being overlooked at work? Do you feel your work is underappreciated? If so, this episode is a must-listen for you! Joining Aoife this week is business and personal coach Paula Sheridan, who is on a mission to help clients unwrap their potential and exceed their expectations. This episode offers terrific nuggets of wisdom and brilliant tools for managers to help make your workplace fairer.
Paula delves into the life skill of visibility and unpacks why you must stop waiting to be noticed. We learn the key to raising your visibility at work and getting your work appreciated, along with the powerful questions to ask when seeking constructive feedback. Paula also shares how we can shut down the gender gap and reminds us of the importance of self-acknowledgement and why we should celebrate our wins and achievements. Further key points throughout include;
– An introduction to Paula Sheridan
– Women in the workplace: closing the gender gap
– Influence and visibility – what are you getting done?
– The benefits of getting ahead of workplace issues
– Connecting your objectives to business outcomes
– Performance management: what practices are effective?
– The managers perspective: how to avoid bias in the workplace
– The key to bridging a career development gap
– The practice of acknowledging achievements and catching the raindrops
– How to ask for feedback at work
– What being happier at work means to Paula
“I’d love a world where people get promoted entirely on merit. And for that to happen, we all need to learn to communicate what it is that we do and the value that we offer.” – Paula Sheridan.
THE LISTENERS SAY:
Do you have any feedback or thoughts on this discussion? If so, please connect with Aoife via the links below and let her know. Aoife would love to hear from you!
Connect with Happier at Work host Aoife O’Brien:
Aoife O’Brien 00:00
You’re listening to the Happier at Work podcast. I’m your host Aoife O’Brien. This is the podcast for leaders who put people first. The podcast covers four broad themes, engagement and belonging, performance and productivity, leadership, equity, and the future of work. Everything to do with the happier at work podcast relates to employee retention, you can find out more at happieratwork.ie.
Paula Sheridan 00:26
There is a huge thing about being valued and being treated fairly. And being valued isn’t just about pay. And again, recognition isn’t just about bringing the whole of yourself to work is really important. You can just be you.
Aoife O’Brien 00:43
Hello, and welcome to this week’s Happier at Work podcast. I’m your host, Aoife O’Brien. I’m delighted you decided to tune in today. You’re so welcome here. Today’s guest is Paula Sheridan. Now, myself and Paula have been connected on LinkedIn for quite a bit. And I absolutely love the content that she’s putting out there. If you are a woman who is looking to progress in your career, if you are feeling like you’re being overlooked for promotion than other people who are less experienced than you are, are being promoted above you. Definitely this episode is for you. If you’re a manager and you want to create a better environment where it’s a little bit fairer, where there’s more women being supported to progress in their careers, then this episode is also for you. Lots and lots of nuggets of wisdom in today’s episode. I’d love for you to get involved further in the conversation, whether that’s on LinkedIn, through LinkedIn, live through the posts on social media, or feel free to drop me an email. All details can be found on happiersatwork.ie. And I look forward to continuing this conversation. Welcome Paula to the Happier at Work Podcast. I’m so excited for this conversation this morning that we’re going to have. Do you want to let people know a little bit about your history? How you got to do what you’re doing today?
Paula Sheridan 02:01
Morning Aoife, so nice to be here. Well, yeah, I’ve been really looking forward to this conversation. I’ve enjoyed the podcast so far. So yeah, I’m Paula Sheridan. My background is almost all pharmaceuticals. And I spent about 25 years in pharmaceuticals in a variety of roles. And part of that was I then became an internal coach. And I really enjoyed that in the company that I was in, then when redundancy came along, it was too good an offer to miss. So I decided to put my money where my mouth was, and where I’d been saying, Oh, well, you know, if I get redundancy, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna go off and be a coach and, and I’m gonna help women build their confidence, do this and that. And so that’s what I did. So now what I do is I work with frustrated professional women who are really pissed off there, yes, and no other less experienced person has overtaken them at work. And what I help them to do is to learn how to get their value recognised and appreciated. So that, you know, next time, it’s them.
Aoife O’Brien 03:09
It’s so funny Paula, like, I’ve been connected with you on LinkedIn for a while I really, really enjoy your content, the posts are so relatable, like, I totally get it. And I was one of those women, where that happened, where someone who I felt was less experienced, and not as good at the role, without tooting my own horn. But someone you know, that’s definitely happened a few times, and I think people can relate to that, that, you know, here we go yet again, and maybe I’d love to get in your experience. Is it man, typically who that is. So in my own personal experience, it was a man who was absolutely less experienced than I was, I was being promised this role. And then he was promoted to be my manager. And I got such a shock. Because it also not only was he promoted to be my manager, it wasn’t communicated to me at all. Yeah. Oh, my God. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, God. That’s, that’s, that’s awful.
Paula Sheridan 04:05
Yeah. And the some of the people that I speak to tend to be women. Yeah. So it tends, it tends to be women who get in touch with me. So, you know, I can’t say this never happens to men. Yeah. This is a sample that I think.
Aoife O’Brien 04:19
It’s more of when this does happen is that that a less experienced man was promoted and not, you know, not to kind of brandish all men as as evil or but I think, different ways of being recognised at work. And I think women really struggle with that. I want to talk more about that.
Paula Sheridan 04:38
Yes. It does quite often tend to be men who get promoted over women and again, this is not a rant This. is not about man bashing. Oh, no, no, absolutely not intended to be that way. But you know, we know that into most workplaces. Graduate intake into into professional roles is pretty much as men and women, definitely, in my experience in pharmaceuticals, it is there’s data to support that. And there’s data to support the wider professional in the UK as well that, you know, they come in equal numbers. But then when you look at the numbers of managers, so the proportions of men and women who then become managers, that’s when there is a disparity. So this gap opens up quite early, and and then it widens. And the perceived wisdom was always well, you know, women go off and have children, don’t they? And then they, they decide they don’t want their career to be so important. But the gap happens before that. So there may well be pressures that having a family puts on someone. And that’s I mean, that’s a whole separate conversation. Yeah. But the gap opens before that, and probably the gap then exacerbates the pressure that’s put on women, because women are then less likely to be the major earner that they’re less likely to be have a bigger career, that sort of thing. So when they do become parents, there’s is the job that can afford to go part time.
Aoife O’Brien 06:07
Yeah, it becomes less important. Yeah, exactly.
Paula Sheridan 06:10
And then then from there, it spirals. But it starts before they have children. And I mean, I don’t know about you, but I entered the workplace, assuming that what would make a difference, and what would help you advance is working, you know, working hard and doing a good job. And that was what is necessary. But one lesson I wish I had learned an awful lot earlier, is that there are two things that are important in the workplace, in a professional workplace. And those two things are influence and visibility. Now influence is to getting stuff done, is working with other people working out what needs doing, who can help you do that, what are the needs of that person and that person and tying them all together? Influences doing your job and getting things done. And you can be absolutely brilliant at that. The visibility part is the critical bit, because if nobody knows that it was you that did it, you’re not going to get the credit. Yeah. And you start out in a professional role, with quite a lot of supervision, because, frankly, you have no idea what you’re doing. And you could be dangerous. And you could do all kinds of stuff. Yeah, stuff could go very wrong. You know, you have a lot of supervision, so people can see what you are doing. They know what you’re doing, then as you progress on to another couple of jobs, you know, you know what you’re doing, you don’t need that much supervision. So the only time you become visible, is if you tell people what you’re doing, or if you cook something up. And so if you’re just selling a nice steady ship, and you’re not causing any problems, and you’re not asking for help, then nobody really knows what you’re doing. And more and more as you get further on in your career, what your job becomes about is actually mitigating risk and anticipating problems and ensuring that things carry on in a nice straight line.
Aoife O’Brien 08:14
Therefore, nothing goes wrong.
Paula Sheridan 08:17
know what you’re doing, but nobody knows. Exactly. So you know, I often talk about sort of the sailing a steady ship, where, you know, you go, you go from ship from port to port. And unless you tell people and if you arrive safely in the second port, nobody knows whether there was a storm on your way, they’re just going to assume you were fine. Unless you tell them that there was this storm and that storm. And I realised that so and so had been missed off of a distribution list. And actually, we need their approval to get that project through. Because otherwise Christ, if they don’t see this, then it’s all going to be a delay. And if we don’t hit that mark down, and all of that kind of stuff, and you’re doing all of that kind of stuff day in day out. But if nobody knows about it, that doesn’t exist. Yeah. And so the people who get the promotions are the people who know how to make their work visible. And it’s it’s such a big life skill. And you mentioned, you know, does it tend to be the men who get these promotions? And yeah, because men are told not to show up.
Aoife O’Brien 09:27
Yeah. So it’s ingrained in us as well. Yeah, yeah.
Paula Sheridan 09:33
It is. But I mean, I don’t know if your childhood was like mine, where I can remember being a kid and one of my uncle’s saying to me, you know, when you see some family do and they’re like, oh, what can we ask the child about? That we haven’t seen for you. And it’s yeah. Oh, how are you getting on at school? Are you clever at school? And I answered, yeah.
Aoife O’Brien 09:54
Oh, no, it was like, that was the wrong answer.
Paula Sheridan 10:00
Or another one, are you good at maths? Yeah, yeah. Oh no, don’t say that. You don’t say that. I am good at that. Why can’t I say that? Yeah, I haven’t got it. Yeah. And but you know, I could see it in your face. They’re gonna call No, you don’t say. Oh, no.
Aoife O’Brien 10:15
You don’t say that. Yeah.
Paula Sheridan 10:17
And it is so deeply ingrained. You don’t show off. You don’t be bossy. I was a small child. Apparently, I was a bossy child.
Aoife O’Brien 10:30
Haven’t they rephrased that saying, don’t tell her a girl. She’s bossy. Tell her she has good leadership skills or something. There’s something to that effect. I’ve seen a meme about that. Yeah, yeah. Oh, these girls. Yeah.
Paula Sheridan 10:44
But oh, and the other word I really can’t stand. But no one ever said it about me. Because they only say it about small people. And I’m not small. I’m actually I’ve never been small. I’m tall. Feisty is a great word to diminish, isn’t it? Yeah. It’s a great word to put put someone in their place, isn’t it? So, you know, we wind up with with half of the population. And I mean, this is a gross generalisation because a lot of boys are raised in the same way. Yeah. Not not to put themselves forward for a whole variety of reasons. But we end up with one group of people who are raised to wait to be noticed. Yeah, another group of people who, who? It’s not that they’re raised to put themselves forward. It’s just that they’re not told not to. Yeah. And so it’s perfectly natural to talk about, what have you done this week? Well, I did this, and I did this. And I did that. Meanwhile, a lot of women that doesn’t come naturally.
Aoife O’Brien 11:48
Yeah. Yeah. Something that’s kind of, I suppose, occurring to me now. And something that I talk about a lot is this idea of the impacts that you have, and the role of managers in identifying and setting really clear expectations for people but also linking what people do on a day to day basis to the objectives of the organisation to the objectives of the team. And what it is that that the company as a whole is trying to achieve, but making that really clear link? Do you think something like that would make it easier for people in general, but but women specifically to talk about their achievements at work?
Paula Sheridan 12:26
Yeah, I think having a really clear view of of the line between what you’re doing and your role, yeah. And the outcome? Yes. So it’s so important. Yeah. For motivation, for you know, a sense of achievement, that sort of thing. Because my background is, is healthcare, and pharmaceuticals, there is quite a sort of direct line to well, if we don’t keep this product in stock, people die. So at least in in the area that I worked in for the last 10 years of my pharmaceutical career, it was very much we don’t have product, they die. Yeah. So it’s quite easy, then to connect what you’re doing with a specific outcome. Would that help people? I don’t know. I don’t know. Because does it help them talk about their achievements? What I suppose what’s in it for them in terms of talking about their achievements, they need the positive reinforcement from the manager. Yeah. That, that that’s what the manager wants from them. So if I’m talking to managers, what I what I would normally kind of say is, if someone isn’t coming forward in one to ones to talk about and saying what problems they’ve solved this week, or what challenges they’ve overcome, ask them. Ask them to, you know, I expect you to bring to your next one to one, two challenges you’ve overcome this week, or two things that would have gone wrong, if you hadn’t been there. Just to get people in the habit of it. Yeah, of talking about their achievements, and talking about their work, and actually linking what they do on a day to day basis to changing the course of a project or, yeah, because it’s so easy to fall into the habit of thinking, well, everything’s on track, it’s fine.
Aoife O’Brien 14:16
Yeah. Because you, you proactively identified that there would have been an issue in this scenario and, and if you’re anything like me, you kind of want to do something is slower to forget it. And yeah, exactly that if everything is on track, and there’s no issues you don’t really think to talk about them. But it’s it’s a really interesting viewpoint. I think that as an individual, be prepared to discuss those kinds of things because they are part of your job, especially the more senior you get, as I mentioned earlier, Pola but also as a manager actually proactively inquire to people like I remember sitting in management meetings or in one to ones with my manager. Also my direct reports. and you just kind of go through a list of tasks that they have on, you don’t really talk about anything else. Yeah, on a quarterly basis, you talk about career development and opportunities and things like that. But I always felt being in a smaller office in Ireland, part of a global agency, but didn’t really get the visibility of the opportunities that were out there from a global perspective.
Paula Sheridan 15:22
And I mean, you’ve just reminded me of something that happened with a manager of mine, where, you know, we had a good working relationship. I’m not complaining about him at all. We did. I’m not just thinking, Oh, God, what if we didn’t have a good working relationship, but there was a big, big suppliers you on medicine that I was managing. And so I called in supply chain managers to people who, you know, who have access to all the data about what stock is where, and we were all in a room together. And yeah, supply managers, and I would, we’re just kind of we drew a big map on the wall. And we went, we got this much here, we got this much here and did it and I was going well, what if you move that from there to there because they share a pack and you can hit there to hit in? We were my manager was like, Oh, my God, this is this is great. I don’t need to do anything. Oh, my God. And I was more sort of, well, what did you think was gonna happen? Because, yeah, but you’re totally, you’re totally in charge. And that was kind of what made me think Well, of course I am. Yeah.
Aoife O’Brien 16:26
I expect Yeah. Yeah,
Paula Sheridan 16:29
Exactly. Yeah. And that actually, that day changed our working relationship. Quite a lot. Okay. Oh, I just haven’t. I haven’t witnessed this size of you before. Yeah, yeah. But this is what I’m doing day in, day out. And I guess I’m not showing you.
Aoife O’Brien 16:45
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s really interesting. And it’s kind of, you know, to kind of bring it back to a more general setting, like trying to explain to someone what you do on a day to day basis at work, like no one ever really gets it. Even if your job title or something, no one really knows what it is that you’re doing on a day to day basis. Like, I mean, we could talk about skills for a whole other podcast episode, the different kinds of skills that are required, the transferable skills, all of that kind of thing. I’d love to come back to this idea of visibility and and do you see any fears around being more visible because, again, something that comes up when I talk with with clients in relation to impostor syndrome, visibility is one of the triggers. And as we progress through our careers, we become more visible in especially, you know, in organisations, well, in entrepreneurial settings as well. But in organisations, the higher you get, the more visible, the more eyes that are on you. So if you mess something up, or if you say something, it’s amplified to like that organisation. So any, any thoughts around the fears associated with talking about our stuff? First of all, but then maybe also related to as we progress, our careers, the fears around being visible?
Paula Sheridan 18:00
Is the fear and being visible is quite, it’s, well, as you say, it’s completely normal. Yeah. And natural. Yeah. And, and it happens. And for me, it’s linked to a few things. So as you know, as you’re talking about imposter syndrome, impostor syndrome, as you know, is linked to not feeling like you belong, not feeling like you’re the same as everybody else in the room for whatever reason. So you know, it could be ethnicity, sexuality, whatever, gender or background, but for whatever reason, you feel like you don’t belong. And so therefore, you kind of feel like, I’m gonna get found out. And so you’re scared about sticking your hand up for something? Because, yeah, you’re gonna get found out
Aoife O’Brien 18:44
and people will realiae, you have no idea what you’re talking about. You’re a total fraud, and you don’t belong here at all. Yes,
Paula Sheridan 18:51
exactly. They’ll they’ll, they’ll notice. I’m so yeah, that’s it’s a normal thing. I do sometimes talk through with clients about what is the worst that could happen? What’s the worst that could happen? And what will you do? If that, you know, really unlikely worst happens? And quite often sort of comes out actually. Yeah. That isn’t that bad, is it? It’s not that bad. Or, I mean, this depends on the person or working through. What do we think of other people who stick their head above the parapet? And where did those thoughts come from? And this relates back again to the whole being told that in your childhood, that you should behave in a certain way. And then if you see other people behaving in a way that doesn’t fit with that, how do you feel about those people and about being that woman or that lady that says, did that? Yeah, I did a good job. Yeah. And there is if you haven’t come across it, there is a fantastic resource available from Google. And it’s free, free workshops called I Am remarkable. Oh, yes. Yeah, they are fabulous. And they do a lot of work in this area in terms of realising that sometimes our fear of visibility is that other people will judge us the same way that we judge them. Yeah. And and that’s quite uncomfortable. Realising that about yourself. And if you want to see about yourself, though, oh, actually, I’m, I’m judging others with maybe not the greatest positive intent, that once you start to look as other people with more positive intent, and you know, in a more positive aspect, then it becomes easier to look upon yourself in the same way as well. In terms of just I’m only stating a fact here, I did this. The results were good.
Aoife O’Brien 20:56
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Love that. Is it also something to do with we will think that other people will judge us the way we judge ourselves?
Paula Sheridan 21:05
Quite possibly. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yes. I mean, I, yeah, I full transparency. I’ve done a lot of work with myself on that. Yeah. In terms of getting past a fear of judgment. And, you know, no one is ever completely beyond it, because we’d be a psychopath.
Aoife O’Brien 21:24
I think it’s part of the journey, isn’t it? But you just need to learn to, to kind of accept it, accept yourself and know that judgment is kind of part of it. But it’s
Paula Sheridan 21:34
To judge yourself differently. So learning and accepting that good enough is good enough.
Aoife O’Brien 21:40
Yeah. Yeah, this is I mean, perfection is totally associated with impostor syndrome. I like to think of myself as a recovering perfectionist, I like everything to be 100%. And I talk about that, or I was talking about that recently. And when I think then of, I do Duolingo, every day to kind of keep my Spanish up to date and that way, but going nearly 365 days now. So I’m delighted with that but, when I do a couple of stories around this. So when I get 100% It says perfect. And I’m like, Oh, wow, you know, so there is that kind of gets the message that there is such thing as perfect. And I just remembered another instance where I got 96% in a paper that I wrote, it was my first time writing a paper in, I don’t know, 20 years, something like that. Maybe close to that. Exactly. But the way, the way my brain went and my mom quickly, as soon as anything pick this up. She was like, you’re wondering why that other 4% went? I was like, Of course I am. I got so close to 100% Where’s that other 4%? It’s just Yeah. That’s past Aoife as opposed to present. You know, I’m moving away from that perfectionism. But yeah,
Paula Sheridan 23:05
I can see you almost itching. Yeah, well over going where? I’m kind of, yeah, you only notice.
Aoife O’Brien 23:13
But how can I be more perfect? How can I do it? The other thing Paula, I wanted to come back to is this idea of sticking your head above the parapet. In Australia, especially I don’t know if it’s in the UK. And I don’t think it’s as common in Ireland, but they call it the tall poppy syndrome. Yeah, when someone grows, you know, when the puppy is a little bit taller, the people around them want to just cut them down. Again, in my kind of more recent work on myself, my understanding of that is when you feel like you want to tear someone down, it’s more because you’re envious, or you’re jealous of what they’ve achieved. And it’s an indication nothing more than an indication of what you want for yourself. And you need to think about what actions can I take to achieve that as opposed to being jealous, being envious? What you want is to support those people because they’re doing what what it is that you want to do, and how can you actually learn from them?
Paula Sheridan 24:08
Yes, I would agree with that. Where? Thinking particularly in the corporate work space. Yeah, for example, when there are certain people who are put on a key talent tracks or whether they’re graduate trainee programs, or whatever. And they do get a lot of extra resource and a lot of extra support and a lot of extra attention. But if they’re not actually doing a decent job, they will not get promoted. So yes, they have opportunities that other people don’t have. But they do still have to live up to them. Yeah. And yet the mutterings that you quite often hear, Well, who the hell do they think they are? That kind of thing. And, as you say, you can’t change the system. You can’t immediately change the system. Yeah, potentially long term. You can’t change the system today. So what can you do today? To talk about how do I get that sort of support? Yeah, who do I need to talk to? What do they need to see? And are they willing to give me the opportunities to go for it? Because there is often this sense that it’s a manager that leads a one to one. It’s a manager that leaves an appraisal, or an objectives discussion, or a development discussion. And it’s not, it really should be the person who leads it who has a sense of, what do I want from this conversation? What do I want from you? What can you do for me, their manager? Where do I want to go? Do I have your support? If I don’t have your support? What do you need to see to get your support? What actions will you take to help me do those things? And if you don’t ask them, you don’t get them? And again, I think that’s a lesson that a lot of us learned the hard way. Yeah. January always brings a little flurry of people getting in touch about either their appraisal or their objectives. Yeah. And, you know, there’s often a theme around. Well, I hit all my objectives. So we ticked every box, but my manager is still giving me a rubbish appraisal. Yeah. Because they said, Well, your objectives weren’t as challenging as everybody else’s. So well. You can sense them frustrated if you do manage you agreed to that? Yeah. So but there’s some responsibility as an individual as well, to say, Are these objectives appropriate? For me and the level I’m at? What would you add? That would give me a bit more challenge or development? Where could I develop further? What are your expectations for me to hit such and such a level? And? And to have those conversations throughout the year? Yeah. Because you should never be having that kind of thing as a surprise at the end of the year. And that, that sits on the manager? Yeah, actually, yeah. This shouldn’t be a surprise.
Aoife O’Brien 27:01
No, no, definitely. No, no, you need to get feedback throughout throughout. I mean, yeah, we’d have a different conversation about how various different things are, are done, because that has happened to me in the past, where I gave one of my direct reports a particular rating, and then it was taken away and discussed in a quiet room calibrated. And then the feedback came to me saying, Actually, we’ve downgraded this, let’s say, and you have to have that conversation. And it was like, okay, but I haven’t had that conversation up to now. And it was a very difficult conversation to have that and explain the impact, obviously, without sort of saying, Oh, well, it wasn’t my decision, you know, and so accepting full responsibility for something that wasn’t actually my decision. But yeah, that’s just how things were done there. So that was, that was rather frustrating. But I totally see what you’re saying you do need to have those conversations, right. But But I love this approach of, or this advice that, you know, as an individual contributor, you need to step up and take responsibility for managing that meeting, for getting across what it is that you want from your manager. And I know certainly when I have done that, in the past, it’s been quite a struggle. There was an agreement there. This is in a job that I loved, but a blip let’s say, of a year long manager who I despised. We didn’t get along very well at all he and again, he was saying, oh, yeah, yeah, you’ll definitely be promoted. Let’s do let’s work on this for three months. And so we were meeting weekly for three months, I was coming to him and saying, oh, and I did this, and I did this, I did this. And then we got to the end of that time period. And I said, Okay, so how am I doing? Oh, no, I’d have to check the job description or something like he kind of deferred to going back. And yeah, it was just, I think, again, his first time managing people. So yeah, not not a great approach. I thought I was taking responsibility. I thought I was being really proactive in it while you were and and yet still, and with this any any kind of thoughts on that from a, I suppose maybe it’s leaving people with a sense of if I’m, if I’m a manager, how can I manage these situations a little bit better, and then we’ll talk about the the interface.
Paula Sheridan 29:13
So I mean, as a manager, the situation that you spoke about in terms of where you know, an appraisal got downgraded outside of your control? That that is pretty tough. Yeah. I know, I do know that. A lot of organisations do sort of a bell curve on on ratings, because they say, Well,
Aoife O’Brien 29:34
you got to have everyone I know, having met their objectives, it makes the conversation easy. That’s the problem that if you give everyone an outstanding or a five out of five or a three out of three, from a manager’s perspective, it’s like it’s so I don’t have to have that difficult conversation. But I mean, yeah, again, this whole rating system and performance management, the way we do stuff that’s a conversation for for another day as well.
Paula Sheridan 29:57
Yeah, that yeah, don’t get me started on that. When, when you work in a team of eight, and you get told, Well, you know, at least one or two of you is going to get the bottom rate. Doesn’t matter how well you’ve done.
Aoife O’Brien 30:08
Exactly. Yeah, yeah, that’s no one wants to hear that. It’s so demotivating. So demotivating Yeah, exactly.
Paula Sheridan 30:14
Yeah, don’t get me started rabbit hole. Until Yeah, in terms of that, I suppose the question is, as a manager, how, you know, how aware is someone that that could happen? You know, because I don’t want you know, sort of I’m certainly not sitting in judgment of any manager who gets blindsided by their higher ups game, you know, you kind of have that. Yeah. But I suppose you live and learn. What are the questions I need to ask my hirer, in terms of what is my remit in terms of gradings? I might have to tell my staff. This is what I’m recommending for you. Yeah. And using those words, rather than saying, No, this is what you’ve got, in terms of grading. So I think, yeah, more in terms of what’s the learning? Yeah. Because I don’t know that you can really preempt that.
Aoife O’Brien 31:01
No, no, I didn’t. I didn’t know that. That’s how things were done. And I still, even when I received that feedback, I still didn’t know exactly how things were done until I found myself on that leadership team. And I saw firsthand how the ratings have decided. And I was blown away. Because yeah, I mean, again, a story for another day. But just how things were done was so subjective. Well, it just comes back to this idea of visibility as well, Paula, because the people who are more visibly putting across what it was they were achieving, whether that was to their manager, or to the wider business were more likely to get the higher ratings. Yeah, yeah. So I think,
Paula Sheridan 31:46
and, and writing, yeah, and I mean, I sort of appraisals with teams and stuff. You can’t blind them in the same way that you would say blind it in a psychology experiment. But when it is blinded in psychology experiments, so whether you blind CVS, so or switch gender, or that kind of thing, it has a massive impact on what kind of advice or what kind of feedback is given and what the judgment is on someone’s performance. So gender does come into it, race does come into it. The judgment of a CV, if you put an obviously sort of Asian name on something versus a very obviously, British name. Yeah. It’s very different saying with a female name versus a male name, then their achievements are viewed very differently.
Aoife O’Brien 32:38
Paul Sheridan. Wow, his achievements are outstanding. Paula Sheridan. Oh, well, I don’t know –
Paula Sheridan 32:44
Yeah. There is a good one. Oh, it was a scientist. And he was a trans man. And one of his colleagues overheard some people muttering after he transitioned, some people sort of chatting while he was presenting some of his work. And they were sort of saying, oh, you know that this chap is a lot better than his sister. Well, same person. Yeah. Yeah. Same person. Yeah. You’re just judging it. Yeah. judging it differently. Yeah. The expectations that we have of men the expectations that we have of women? Yes. I mean, as a manager, things to be aware of, are those sorts of biases, but then also being aware of what kind of feedback do you give? So how concrete is the feedback that you’re giving your people? Are you feeding back to individuals, the one that women get is be more confident. Meanwhile, the one that men might get is speak up in meetings, run meeting sessions, that kind of thing? You’re looking for the same outcome? Yeah. But you’re not telling women how to do it. Yeah. And so that comes up a lot. Again, in terms of viewing gaps in development, for men, they tend to be viewed as Oh, this is a development opportunity for you, you’re ready for this job? Yeah. Whereas in women, it’s viewed as, no, this is a gap, you need to fill this gap before you can even apply for Yeah, and, and again, though, those sorts of things tend to trigger people seeking support as well, as well, I was told not to apply for such and such a job because I didn’t have experience of this, but the person they’ve hired does not have experience of this. Yeah. Yeah.
Aoife O’Brien 34:34
You’re saying one thing for one person and another thing for someone else? And it’s, again, does it come back to the individual managers judgment of what experiences you have or what you can do and yeah, yeah.
Paula Sheridan 34:47
And and when you’re in it and and in the process, and you know, and I’m out of the corporate environment now, so it’s a lot easier to kind of see all the places I went wrong. Yeah, well, yeah, yeah, in turn have not really not showing what I was capable of and what I was doing here, because then when people did like, like the manager I mentioned earlier, I did see me doing things that I thought, Well, I do this all day, every day. Yeah. They’d be like, Oh, my goodness, I had no idea that your leadership and your ability to do this and our ability to do that, and it’s a well, yeah, I was just doing it every day. Yeah.
Aoife O’Brien 35:23
Yeah. And I think, I mean, again, this is kind of a slightly off topic, but also related that sometimes when we have a strength, we don’t realise that it’s a strength, because it’s something we do quite easily and quite naturally. And we don’t think to tell people about it, because it comes so easily and naturally to us.
Paula Sheridan 35:41
Yes. It’s, it’s the unconscious competent, yes. Yeah. Yeah. And, and that’s when the frustration kind of going back to the beginning here. That’s where the frustration comes in. Have someone less experience getting promoted? Is the they’re all they do stuff? Why are they getting loaded? For things that I do day in, day out? Why is this being held up to the rest of the team is something brilliant? I do this all the time? Yeah. So yeah, I mean, the ways, the ways to start to look to recognise what you do and what your skills are, are things around having the conversations about well, what did you do today? Literally, what did you do? Who did you talk to? What was the conversation about? Why did you have that conversation, and you can kind of then get into Oh, so you were anticipating risk? You’re mitigating, you know, you’re stepping above and seeing the bigger picture. And you’re networking, you’re building relationships with others, you’re very good at understanding what what the needs of the other person are. So that if you do have to have a difficult conversation, you can kind of meet them where they are in a way that will get the point across them. And you know, all of that sort of thing, is stuff that people are probably doing without even realising.
Aoife O’Brien 36:55
Yeah, this is this, this is it. Any more thoughts from a manager perspective of how they can sort of facilitate this? And then we’ll go on to the individual?
Paula Sheridan 37:07
I think the facilitating bit is in your team, if you’ve got more than a couple of direct reports. You’ve probably got, you’ve got your high flyer coming through. Yeah. And part of the issue with them, is curbing their enthusiasm, okay, yeah. Like, yes, I’m gonna come to you. And I’ve done this. And I’ve done that. And I want my next challenge, as someone I spoke to said, you know, trying to get it across to them in a way that doesn’t dampen their fire. That actually, you’ve only been here six months, and that projects been going on for a lot longer because of that. So no, you did not do all of that. Okay, yeah, so dampening some of it down. Yeah. Then you’ve also got the ones who are really struggling and really need some support, and they do need some support. And then you’ve kind of got the last middle. And these people are that I work with, they’re the last middle. They’re the ones who don’t cause you any problems. So where can you carve out a lot of focus time for the people who aren’t causing you any problems? I love that. Yeah. And what difference would that make to you? And to them, to take them forward? Yeah.
Aoife O’Brien 38:14
So they’re not necessarily the highly highly enthusiastic, they’re not necessarily on the high flyer track or the high potential. But actually, but they have potential exactly that you if you just give them the resources that they need, give them the support that they need in order to take that next level? Yeah. Yeah,
Paula Sheridan 38:34
They do need that support. Well, they will flourish with just a little bit of help in learning how to sell themselves. Yeah. And if they look good, then you look good.
Aoife O’Brien 38:44
Teah, this is it. Now, coming on then to individuals. So we spoke about the kind of the fear around the visibility, you know, the difficulties of the ingrained beliefs that we have about speaking up are on our own behalf and tooting our own horns. Any any advice for what individuals can do? So if they if they wanted to start getting better visibility at work, if they wanted to not be overlooked when it comes to promotion time if they want to progress in their career, but what I feel like they’re, they’re kind of being overly confident, let’s say, they don’t want to be that person. They don’t want to be that person. And I think we all know who that person is.
Paula Sheridan 39:25
Yes, because we all know that person. Yes. And we don’t want to be them. I think feeling safe is a really important thing. Okay. So if you if you trust your manager, then maybe your manager is the place to start. If you don’t feel that you want to make yourself that vulnerable to your manager initially or if it makes you feel scared. Then practice with someone that you do trust and practice talking about achievements and saying them out loud. So you know, I mentioned I am a I am remarkable. The workshops, they are fabulous. Yeah, I do facilitate them and they are free. They are awesome. And I am remarkable sort of will will show you why talking about your achievements does not make you that person. Yeah, bragging about your achievement, bragging about stuff that you haven’t achieved makes you that person. But simply saying, I did this. And the result was that is not bragging. It’s just a statement of fact. And it’s, and it’s okay. So, look at it as though you were preparing for an interview, do you would go through line by line on the job description and come up with examples for that, you know, things you’ve done that fit that job description. And so maybe start in that kind of way, with just some core parts of your own job description, with achievements for each of them. And there’s any number of different acronyms for how to structure achievement. But another one I quite like is the sore acronym. So S O H. R. So what was the situation? And what was either the obstacle or the opportunity, depending on your mindset, or the challenge? What did you do? Not what did we do? What did you do? And then what was the outcome, ideally, with a quantifiable result. So if it is something like noticing that an important person has been missed off a distribution list, so the situation is that for Project X, I noticed that the regulatory person hadn’t been involved in any of the meetings yet, we need their sign off. So the problem was that if we don’t get their sign off, then we miss this milestone. So what I did was I contacted them, I sat down with them, I took them through the project to date, they have given us some feedback, and some modifications to make, but they say it’s fine for them to go into the next round of edits. The result is that we will hit that milestone and we won’t lose on 100,000 pounds. Yeah. And yeah, it feels like a very simple thing that probably that you would do in your day to day job. But the impact is big.
Aoife O’Brien 42:14
Yeah. I think just noticing those things, and maybe jotting them down. I know certainly, thinking back to my corporate days, I always had a reminder in my calendar every month to be like, okay, so what have I achieved this month, and I just think, Oh, I’ll do that next month, next month, next month, and then we get to November where I have to fill out my appraisal. And that year. So this is a lesson, folks, if you start writing those achievements down, so you remember,
Paula Sheridan 42:42
one last one, when I really like is catching raindrops. So the person who explained it to me was this around planning your time and planning your agenda. And at the start of the day, just say here are the two or three things, no more than four things that I will have achieved by the end of the day. So these are the core priorities. And then at the end of the day, you work out what you need to do the next day, but you also review the day. And this shouldn’t take more than five or 10 minutes. And what you do is you gather raindrops. And raindrops are all these little positive things, little achievements throughout the day. So even if it is, I replied to the email I’ve been putting off for a week, gather all of those things. And he calls them raindrops, because on their own, they are nothing. But you get enough of them, and they’ll break it down. Yeah. And if you get in the habit of gathering your raindrops at the end of the day, it gives you a real it gives you your good old dopamine boost. But it also shows you that you have achieved things in the day and all those little things do add up. And they do make a difference. And especially if you do it in writing. I mean, we spoke earlier about I write lots of notes. Yeah, thanks. Especially if you do it in writing, because you can flick back through the pages and go Yeah, I did do a lot didn’t. I did do a lot.
Aoife O’Brien 44:03
Yeah. Yeah. And I think sometimes we get to the end of the day and think that we haven’t achieved that much. Or we were busy in meetings all day. And we feel like we were really busy. But it’s thinking about privacy achievement, you know, what did I actually get done here? You know, what, what difference did I make? And well, I mean, again, for another podcast episode. Why was I in that meeting? If if it wasn’t beneficial? And that, you know, that’s come up time and time again, this sort of idea. But yeah, I mean, I like this idea of, it’s someone that you trust. So if your manager isn’t necessarily the immediate person that you trust, and you need to build up that confidence in talking about what you’ve actually achieved, then yeah, find that next best person and start having those conversations and start kind of practicing about that. And you’re so right, like if it’s stuff that you have actually achieved and maybe going back to our earlier point about this idea of not knowing your strengths, because you’re living them all the time, and you don’t sometimes realise that you’re your strengths. Sometimes it’s beneficial to ask someone else, you know, what do you think that I do differently as well?
Paula Sheridan 45:14
A question I love for feedback purposes. Is what do you appreciate that working with me? Oh, I love that. Yeah. Yeah. Kids appreciate is such a lovely word, isn’t it? And you hear things in a different way, rather than what are my strengths? Yeah. And so that’s a really powerful question. And then for the sort of the more development aspects. Is that? Yeah, what what would make the greatest difference? Okay. Yeah. Because, again, it’s a positive spin. Yeah. People like giving positive feedback. So make it easier for them.
Aoife O’Brien 45:45
Yeah. That’s a brilliant way of putting it rather than saying, Can I have some constructive feedback? Or can you tell me the areas I need to develop? Or, you know, people are kind of afraid to give that type of feedback in case it offends people. But normally, when people ask for that, and it’s a brilliant thing, if you’re not asking for feedback, it’s a brilliant thing to do. Treat feedback as a gift, someone is giving you their time, their opinion, but I think people are afraid in case they offend the person. But But usually, if someone asked for feedback, it’s from a genuine place, and they want to learn something and they want to progress and they want to do something differently. They want to develop so. So give that to them.
Paula Sheridan 46:24
Yeah. And when when someone else has to question what do you appreciate me? Or what’s my strength? believe them.
Aoife O’Brien 46:35
They’re not just saying that because they work with you because they’re your colleague. And yeah, if someone says something nice, it’s Yeah. Take this from a genuine place. Yeah. Call it the question. I asked everyone who comes on the podcast, what does being happier at work mean to you?
Paula Sheridan 46:54
I had a bit of a think about this. I mean, I’m happiest at work if I’m being challenged, but feel supported. So I can think of roles. I’ve done that. Yeah, there was a lot going on. And yeah, it was very challenging. But it was brilliant. Yeah. Because I’d good support good manager. There’s a huge thing about being valued. And being treated fairly. And and being valued isn’t just about pay. Yeah, yeah. It’s about recognition. It is a pretty an appreciation. Yes. And about feeling that you belong, and that you can, you can
Aoife O’Brien 47:30
just be you. Yeah. Being yourself at work.
Paula Sheridan 47:33
Bringing the whole of yourself to work is really important.
Aoife O’Brien 47:37
Yeah, absolutely. Brilliant. And if people want to reach out if they want to connect with you, if they want to find out more about what you do, sign up to an I Am Remarkable workshop or anything like that. What’s the best way they can do that?
Paula Sheridan 47:51
And you can get in touch with me on LinkedIn, where I am Paula hyphen Sheridan on LinkedIn. Yes. So LinkedIn, then my profile is Paula hyphen, Sheridan. Or just drop me an email, which is Paula at unwrapping potential, all one word dot com
Aoife O’Brien 48:11
Brilliant. That’s great. Thank you so much for your time today, Paula, I so enjoyed it.
Paula Sheridan 48:15
Thank you for having me.
Aoife O’Brien 48:17
Lovely nuggets for people, I think, to hopefully put into action straight away, you know, to to progress in their career or to create that environment where people feel that they can progress, you know, so,
Paula Sheridan 48:30
Yeah, I mean, I just, I’d love a world where people get promoted on merit. Yeah, entirely on merit. And for that to happen. We all need to learn to communicate what it is that we do. And the value that we offer. This is it, and it’s really important. And we all have to learn to listen to it as well.
Aoife O’Brien 48:52
Absolutely. Really great parting thought there. Thank you so much. Thanks so much for your time today, Paula.
Paula Sheridan 48:58
It’s been great chatting, Aoife. Thank you so much.
Aoife O’Brien 49:05
That was Paula Sheridan. And I really hope you enjoyed today’s conversation. I definitely took a lot from it as well. The first thing I wanted to share in relation to that, is this idea of influence and visibility. So it matters that you’re getting stuff done and you’re looking after other people’s needs. But it also matters that people know what you’re doing at work. So influence and visibility. And she said that visibility is the most important thing and I think a lot of people neglect this at work. Interestingly, it ties in with this networking theory, or career success theory called PI theory, which I learned about from Kingsley Aikens. It’s this idea that performance image and exposure is what works and I think people think oftentimes that the work they do will speak for itself. But that’s not necessarily the case. And you know, we explained that in ink had a bit of detail in the podcast today. So those three parts again, performance, image, and exposure and exposure is actually the most important thing. So what kind of performance you have the image that you’ve created of yourself. But if you’re not getting to speak to the right people about what it is that you’re doing and the impact you’re having at work, then that can have detrimental consequences on your career. Now, I loved this idea that Paula shared today of this sailing a steady ship. So if you are able to identify risks and anticipate problems in advance of them happening, then maybe you don’t even think that you’re doing that or you forget that you’re doing that. But being able to do that, and and keep the ship sailing steadily, as opposed to having everything messed up is a really great way to be. But sometimes we don’t realise that and we don’t want to show off, we don’t want to be perceived as being bossy as well. Oftentimes, I think what we’re doing in our careers is just waiting to be noticed. So we’re waiting for someone to notice all of the brilliant work that we’re doing, without realising that we’re the ones that need to take responsibility, and tell people about all of the great work that we’re doing. We spoke also about connecting what it is that you’re doing on a day to day basis. And from a manager’s perspective, you can help people to do this as well. So connecting what you’re doing on a day to day basis with the outcomes that the business is looking to achieve with the objectives that you have been set. But making a really clear link between those two things. Not only is it really motivating, and makes it much easier for people to explain the impact that they’re having at work as well. Another key thing that I took away from this conversation is that oftentimes we feel or we give our power away by assuming that the manager is going to take responsibility for leaving the one to one conversations that we have with them. And it’s not it’s not that way, it’s up to us to stand up and take responsibility for that. And really think about what is it that I want at work? What do I want? Where do I want to go? And do I have the support of my manager in order to get there? And what resources do I need? What additional support do I need in order to make that happen? So some really important questions to ask yourself. One of the examples that Paula shared was about, you know, you get to your end of year appraisal, and you’ve completed all of your objectives. But you haven’t actually got a really good appraisal, you’ve in fact, you’ve got a rubbish appraisal. And that’s happened to me in the past, when you don’t really know what’s going on. We talked about performance management and the rating system. And we’re not going to go down that rabbit hole. But on a future podcast episode, I’d love to talk about that in a little bit more detail. Do let me know if that’s something that you want to talk a little bit more about, or want to learn a little bit more about or share your thoughts on it, what works, what doesn’t work, I have my own thoughts on that as well. And from a management perspective, then it’s really about being aware of any biases that you might have, giving feedback and tweeting feedback as a gift and be really specific and concrete with your feedback as well. And the perception of a gap versus the development opportunity. So it’s, you know, are you treating a gap in skills as a development opportunity for one person or treating it as a gap in skills for another person, so something to be aware of there as well, from the individuals perspective, then it’s thinking, whether you feel safe to go to your manager, or is there someone else in your organisation or outside of your organisation that can be a mentor for you, and practice talking about some of your achievements with someone that you trust. Paula also mentioned the I Am Remarkable program, I’ll definitely be checking that out. It’s been on my radar for a while, but I haven’t done it yet. And then also listing our achievements. And sometimes people find this really hard when I work with people in relation to impostor syndrome, they find it really hard to actually list out what their achievements are. But I can guarantee you once you start listing out your achievements, whether in your personal life, in your work life, and the skills associated, whether you had to learn those skills or whether you feel like you had them naturally. It’s a real game changer. And the acronym that Paula used today is sore. So looking at the situation that occurred, the obstacle, what you personally achieved, and then the outcome and put the outcome in really solid terms as well, you saved the company time you save the company money, you made the company money, whatever that might be. And I think oftentimes we fall victim to this mentality that we’re working as part of a team. And we achieve this and this is what we did. But really, it’s about focusing in on what you individually contributed to that situation. What was your contribution to it? What difference did each having you on that team actually make? The last couple of points I wanted to remind you of then, the first one is this idea of raindrops so it’s catching the raindrops, reviewing the day and thinking about and writing down your positive achievements for the day. And when you get enough of those, it’s enough to break it down, build up and build up and build up over time. And really, really watch your take off. The final piece, then are these two questions that you can ask when it comes to feedback. So what do you appreciate about working with me? So that’s a way to get some positive feedback if you’re looking to get some positive feedback. And then when you’re looking for more developmental feedback, what would make the greatest difference in you know how I work in our relationship, whatever that might be. But love those two questions as well. As I mentioned, do get involved in the conversation, you’ll find all details of my social media channels on my website, happieratwork.ie. Do feel free to connect with me. Wherever you find me on social media, and do get involved in the conversation. I’d love to hear more about what your thoughts are. Have you tried anything from the podcast? Is there anything that you would add? Is there anything that you’re afraid to do? Do let us know in the conversation. I will be back again next week with another interview based podcast. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you then. That was another episode of the Happier at Work podcast. I am so glad you tuned in today. If you enjoy today’s podcast, I would love to get your thoughts – head on over to social media to get involved in the conversation. If you enjoyed the podcast, I would love if you could rate, review it or share it with a friend. If you want to know more about what I do or how I could help your business, head on over to happieratwork.ie