Pssst! We’ve highlighted notes and discussion questions in grey throughout the newsletter for you.
A few customer complaints. That’s all your manager wants to talk about during your review. Not the other 7,000 interactions that left customers satisfied, or the crystal clear support docs you took the initiative to write that decreased the team’s workload. You’ve gone above and beyond the responsibilities of a technical support engineer at your company, but none of that seems to matter.
You’re too direct. You’re not compassionate enough on calls. That’s what they say. But you treat customers exactly the same way as men in your role do. And like the customers that complain, your manager’s convinced there’s something you’re doing wrong. Tweet this
After talking to other women on the team, you realize that they share your experience, and feel unsupported too.
You eventually leave the company. If someone said you were "too direct" or "not compassionate enough" how would you know what they meant? Does this change in different situations? There’s more to the story. 😳Not to tease you, but we’ll get to it next week. We want to focus on the employee and her manager now.
There’s clearly a pattern. At least to you and the other women on the team (go figure). But your manager just doesn’t get it. Or isn’t trying to.
If only you could prove it. You know, work with your team members to show irrefutable evidence that your company’s customers expect different responses from men than women. That might work.
But should you? You’re not responsible for the burden of proof that comes along with this ridiculous but pervasive double standard. And if your manager wasn’t receptive before… would he be now?
How might this impact new employees that just want to fit in? What about people in underrepresented groups?
Your manager is in your way. Do you want to keep working here?
If so, use your manager's obsession with everything you do wrong to your advantage.
Make complaints his problem. After all, you’re on his team.
Imagine sending an email to your boss for every complaint where you say something like, "Hey Joe, I just got this feedback from a customer. How would you have handled this?"
Whenever a similar situation comes up, apply his solution so that when there’s a complaint you can send another email and say, "Hey Joe, I tried using the solution we came up with to help a customer but received a complaint. Should we have tried something else here?"
Record all of this. Feel free to meet in person, but send him an email before and after you meet with the request and outcome.
How do you keep records of different interactions to reference during performance reviews?
Manage up and embrace process. Share what you learn with team members, and encourage them to put pressure on your boss to define and enforce a process for handling every type of customer scenario. What you’ve started with him will become a team activity that transforms complaints from a personal failure to an addressable gap in process. Everyone benefits from that.
How do your team’s processes interrupt bias or limit discretion?
Your reviews should be much different. If they aren’t, remind your boss that you’ve done everything exactly as he would, and would be happy to go over the solutions he defined again, or help him come up with new ones.