CategoryGuest Contributions

From PIC — “The Many Ridiculous Roles for Women in the Workplace”

Early in my career, I read an article which said  men generally cast women into 1 of 5 roles in the workplace.

Those 5 roles are Mother, Wife, Girlfriend/Mistress, Sister or Daughter.

  • Mother is expected to coddle and comfort and cover, even when you’re not doing what you should. Sometimes they nag or punish you — but not too severely because mother never wants to see you suffer.
  • Wife is expected to help and support the men they work with, no matter what. They nag more often than mothers — but they don’t press too hard because they care for and rely on you. The wife is all bark but no bite.
  • Girlfriend/Mistress is expected to help and support the men they work with. Because there is chemistry and affinity, the girlfriend/mistress often receives reciprocal help and support. However, the length and level of loyalty is limited because commitment to the relationship is missing.
  • Sister switches from collaborator to competitor and back again with the men they work with. Because the relationship feels familial, there is reciprocal help and a level of loyalty in the relationship.
  • Daughter needs to be looked out for by the men they work with. She needs coddling, comfort, cover and coaching. She yields loyalty and commitment and is treated with kindness.

On the surface, these roles are harmless. In fact, men are often cast into the same roles (father, husband, boyfriend, brother, son) … However, men have 2 additional roles rarely attributed to women — coach and boss.

For men and women who participate in sports or other competitive activities at some point in life, they see men in coaching roles more often than they see women. When they encounter a person at work who is demanding but caring, they put them in the coach box … If they’ve never had a woman coach, they won’t view women at work thru this lens and they’ll put a demanding but caring woman in the mother or wife box instead. Same applies if they’ve never had a woman as boss previously.

Again, on the surface, this seems harmless … But what happens when a man’s relationship with these roles are not positive? For women, we can switch up and view thru the lens of coach or boss — where we know those roles must be respected and revered, even when our personal feelings about the individual isn’t positive. For men, they often can’t get beyond the familial lens to see the woman thru a lens that commands respect. The relationship becomes peppered with resistance, defiance, insolence and passive-aggressive behaviors that can damage a working relationship beyond repair.

When men encounter women of color in the workplace, it can be even worse. If a man has not encountered women of color regularly outside of work, they often cannot see them thru any of these lenses. When this happens, women of color are relegated to stereotypes and caricatures instead. Stereotypes and caricatures are rarely worthy of respect or loyalty.

These roles and lenses create a minefield of issues surrounding gender in our workplaces. From the outside looking in, no one really understand why the relationship isn’t working — and the woman is often blamed for the persisting problem and the lack of resolution.

The article from all those years ago essentially told women there was nothing they could do to break beyond the confines of these roles. It advised women to position themselves to be placed in the roles of sister or daughter to avoid being viewed as nagging or coddling … Early in my career, I tried to follow this. It worked. In some ways, it still does. I’ve watched enough women and men cast into these roles to believe this is true and operating in workplaces all over.

I’m ready to turn the page on this. I’m ready to see women break free of these roles.

We cannot do this without help and change by men. Men have to push and force themselves to see women as coaches and bosses in addition to the other roles.


Read the rest at Performance I Create

From PIC — Sarah Williams’ Recipe for Workplace Fun

I have always had a love/hate relationship with workplace fun.

I’ve seen employer attempts to create “fun workplaces” go horribly wrong … Instead of fostering cooperative happy, and more productive environments, it spawned competitive, entitled and ineffective environments. What was designed to create camaraderie and show appreciation developed into something divisive and disparaging.

After many years of watching employees take advantage of or be completely indifferent to the efforts of their employers to bring joy, levity, recognition and appropriate fun to the workplace, I became sour to the very idea of it. I decided workplaces couldn’t be fun. It simply wasn’t possible. I believed workplaces should be about work and anything given to employees should be earned through their efforts and outputs.

Ffff the fun, yo!

About 6 months into my latest position, I was tasked with organizing our Halloween contests …with an S. Meaning there were multiple! One each for costume, decorating, pumpkin carving and themed snacks. I began wondering what I’d gotten myself into! I set myself to planning — and I waited for people to suck the fun out of these well-intentioned events. I waited for people to demand more, allege unfairness or loaf off.

I waited … It didn’t happen.

We had fun. Appropriate fun with sincere appreciation and no sense of entitlement … But it didn’t hurt our productivity or our attitudes.

We had fun for that day, for those few designated moments — then we went back to work. Like the fun hadn’t happened.

I watched and waited to see what would happen for Thanksgiving. And Christmas. And New Years. And Valentine’s Day.

The fun came and the fun went. No one missed a beat.

My Fun-less Grinchy Heart grew two sizes … I was amazed.

Now, I gladly lead the “Spirit Committee” efforts for our company. I look forward to it. I post and boast about it using the #MyJobBetterThanYours tag … I believe again there can be fun in the workplace without all the negative non-sense.

So what’s so different about this place vs the others? What is the recipe for workplace fun?

Read the rest over at Performance I Create

It’s the HR Carnival … Of Love & Other Stuff!!

February is a short month … but it’s also a great month and one of my favorite months of the year! We celebrate Black History and highlight the accomplishments of African-Americans in the USA in February. We celebrate Valentine’s Day and highlight the importance of love and romance in February. Usually, we celebrate the best of the year’s movies at the Oscars in February as well — but this year, the awards airs on March 2nd.

Oh well. Close enough.

So when I saw my friend Shauna Griffis post on Facebook that she needed a blogger to host the HR Carnival for this week, I jumped on it! I’ve been a follower of the Carnival since before I started blogging. I really respect their commitment to sharing great content and featuring new HR blogging voices.

Because it is February, I asked for contributions along the themes of Love in the Workplace, Diversity and Great HR Lessons from the Movies … Enjoy the show!


Karin Hurt gives great perspective on male/female workplace friendships and breaking down boys club barriers in “Can Men & Women Be Friends At Work?”

Looking for seedy tales of workplace whoopee? Then you MUST read these posts from Sabrina Baker and Chris Fields — they are sure to raise your eyebrows and make you blush, giggle and flinch


You’ll never hear me argue against passion for work and showing love for others at work as essential, necessary and desirable for a successful employment relationship. That’s why these 3 posts had to be included in this Carnival —

5 Signs You Found the Love of Your Work Life by Troy Lutz from WagePoint

Falling In Love with Your Employees by Chris Fields from eSkills

Legacy HRMS / Legacy Marriage — Sunk Costs vs Innovation by Naomi Bloom


Tiffany Keuhl encourages you to “Free Your Mind” about traditional ideas and plans surrounding diversity at work. Dwane Lay supports these notions and adds some more ideas to the mix in his post “What’s Missing From Diversity”   then Andrew Tarvin ties it all together with “8 Benefits of an Inclusive Organization“… And I absolutely loved this post from Ian Welsh which combines his thoughts on diversity strategy with the Wizard of Oz!! It just don’t get much better than A Brain, A Heart, The Nerve”

For those who’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know how much I love television and the movies! I pull a lot of wisdom and great workplace lessons from there. So even though the Oscars are on the outskirts of February this year, I still have give honorable mention and share this from Dan McCarthy’s Great Leadership Blog “The 2013 Movie Edition” (spoiler alert: there are GIFs!! Yay!!)

Finally, in direct honor of Black History Month, I want to share this post from my friend Dave Ryan (Black History from an Old White Guy) which was written in response to my post “The N-Word” (oh yes. I went there) back in 2012.

Thank you for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed the Carnival! Check out the website to find out the next stop — and find out how you too can be a host!

Boulder and Bolder — HR Florida 2013

Last week, I had the pleasure and honor to attend the 2013 HR Florida State Conference & Expo with over 2000 other HR professionals from all over the pan-handle state … And it was awesome!

The conference kicked off with Aron Ralston, the hiker who became trapped in a canyon, cut off his own arm to get free (yes, you read that right. He CUT OFF HIS ARM!!! The movie 127 Hours was based on his experience. I’m too chicken-poo to watch it, but you should) and hike back to safety. I’d seen Ralston’s story on an episode of Dateline several years ago.  It was chilling … I wondered how his story would relate to HR — other than the obvious: nothing an employee could do or say would ever be worse than having to cut off your arm.

The answer became obvious about 5 minutes into Ralston’s talk. And his sobering tale mesmerized the room and haunted the remainder of the conference … The boulders in our life are a blessing. They help us determine what is really important in our lives. They force us to slow down, focus and make deliberate, purposeful and strategic decisions. They make us act with boldness and bravery. They demand we leave behind the things which no longer serve us. Being caught between a rock and a hard place will drag us to and through the dark places that will ultimately lift us to new heights.

In our HR lives, our boulders are numerous — difficult employees, unsupportive executives, changing legal landscape, resistance to technology, etc. And in our every day lives, there are just as many boulders. But if we can focus and remember what’s truly important, we can find a way to overcome our boulder to become … bolder!!

Armed with this message, I made my way thru excellent sessions on employee investigations, HRIS system implementation, wage & hour compliance, building total reward programs and how to retain top talent over the 2 1/2 day event. Each session was packed with HR wisdom nuggets and tips to arm participants with best practices. Each session was also packed with people!! So packed that I got locked out of a couple of sessions I wanted to attend because the fire marshall said the rooms were full. I didn’t fret because every concurrent timeslot had at least 2 or 3 things worth seeing.

I left feeling refreshed and inspired to tackle the boulders before me with boldness in the remaining months, weeks, days and hours of 2013. I also left with lots of thoughts ideas on what HR Conferences need to be more successful and meaningful — and how I can contribute to making things even better.

More on that tomorrow.

Until then, check out my HR Florida Conference lead-in posts over at HR Florida State Council blog, The HR Mouth of the South:

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