DAN, Engineer, Harvard Business School discussed on HBR IdeaCast
For women to be in these high-power possessions. I would prefer not to take this in a sort of gender direction because Dan and I are great examples when we sit together forever moment We have been reporters, writers editors, our entire career. Why? Yes suit. So why do we wanna do this? So I go back to the motivated behaviour, Dan, pink, You know so autonomy, we control what we do. We decide what we're going to write about. We M have mastery, which them very bragging but you know we're we've done it for really long were good it what we do and then we derive meaning from our work. And so I know plenty of people, men and women who wouldn't find those three things in a management job. Lots of people do managing people, managing teams, managing organizations like those are very noble causes. You do have more control. All of those things. There are personalities who, just that's not what they want, They they want to produce. And I also think that organizations are sort of almost built on the assumption that everybody has this desire to move up yet. I used to work at a place where every year in the performance of. All EU-Asian they would have you fill out, where do you hope to be in five years? And it really felt like it was unacceptable to say, I want to be doing exactly what I'm doing now. It's almost like this gravitational force that organizations are built on that. Everybody's looking to move up. Especially Startups have a tendency to push people up the chain, And one of the things that companies need to do as they get bigger is realized that not everybody is going to go up the chain And that there are some people who wanna be that designer that engineer, who sits at their desk in, doesn't manage other people, the amount of value those people can add in that position. It makes sense not to push them to move out of it. So it's sort of always been possible at a publishing company or a law firm. The minute certainly happens in media. I honestly think though that if she knows that she wants to stay in individual contributor and she's working for a company that won't accept that, Then I think she should start looking for another job. I don't think she's other a company. We ran on a spirit at ORGA blog post by an Kramer who is an executive at Nickelodeon, and she found that. She got to management and exactly like this woman when she was in the position that she realized she wasn't right for. She said, I miss creating. I don't want to oversee the creators. I wanna be making shows. And I think unfortunately, she couldn't go back in her own organization, so she ended up leaving. Absolutely. This is is starting to highlight something that I think about as the yes, no paradox. The ideal employee, the ideal colleague says yes to every thing because we like when people say yes, to us, companies like when people say us to them via companies don't like to be told, no, they look at you as a widget. That's going to move into the SWAT and solve a lot of problems. And if the widget says, no, they need to go out and make by build, uh, something complicated. There's risks associated with that unknown person, their search costs. There's the loss in productivity while the job is open. So saying No has costs and complications to not just your boss on a personal level, but the company, You need to be aware that accompanies gonna view that. As a negative in and they're not gonna like it, We have stat seventy six percent of people don't want their bosses job 34 percent of workers aspire to leadership positions. That's not a lot. So then we have this challenge of what do we say no to and how do we say it in a way that keeps as many options open and optimizes on our goals and what we want to be doing day to day. If this woman does work in a company as Dan said that has paths for individual contributors, she should quite clearly say that she wants to be on that path. If the company doesn't have that path and sort of everyone has to go up to management. She needs to figure out whether she can negotiate a carve-out and be the first one be a trailblazer. Yeah, this is definitely a negotiation question ya. Um, it might be the case that she doesn't need to take on the job that they have in their minds for her, but there might be bits and pieces of it that she would enjoy doing, And she could get a better title and more money like she said, she wants you to. Here's one question I had on this. Let's say that she decides flat out. She. Does not want to do this? Is sheep better off giving them a no, with an honest answer or is better off giving some sort of an alterior answer? You know, it's just not a good time right now. I think I'll be ready to do that in three years. Who, If you're asked if you ever want to be president near politician? He tried to not say no, because you want to keep your options open. Is there something she needs to do here to keep her options open or to keep her as a high potential in the company not cut herself off? Yeah. Um, you don't want the scenario where they're not gonna come to you and ask, right? Being asked puts you in the higher power position because then you'll get to choose. You don't want that choice cut off and taken away from you'll altogether. I think she also needs to emphasize not just sort of why personally she doesn't want to do the job, But why the organization will benefit from her staying where she is the I think that's a fine line though. You don't want to imply that. You wouldn't be good at the job. Yeah, I think you need to be careful and saying No, that you don't say anything, the diminishes your skills or makes you sound less competent than you want your bosses too. Thank you. Are the yeah, The other solution that might come into play here is sort of the in between which is I'm happy to step up and do the job temporarily during the search. But I don't want to be a accounting for the long term position on that shows. You can do the job. It shows your team player. You're willing to make a sacrifice, but are also doesn't put you on a path. You don't wanna be long-term. I think the other difficult dynamic in the situation is that if this person had a good relationship with their own boss there now negotiating with the bosses bus, I would have no problem having that sort of conversation with my immediate manager. But I don't know that I would have that conversation with the next level up. Why not? I don't know. I think my boss understands me best and sort of understands my knowledge and skills ability, You know, the fact that I get my job done best and so. The people higher up would judge you on different things, and one of those will definitely be will. Why doesn't she want to rise to my level or the level below me? Um, and they don't know your work as well or your personal situation. It sounds like we all recognize the idea that even a far level of ambition isn't sky high, that there is some benefit in kind of faking it a little bit and making our boss think that we might be more ambitious than we really are with the idea that there's more upside to downside than doing that. Yeah. I mean, that's right. And it maybe isn't faking it, right? Like maybe that feeling internalize that and make it feel authentic as well. Life is long, careers are long. You never know how you're gonna feel in five, ten, fifteen years when your goals and your values and what you want to be doing changes in my last job, I was offered a series of promotions, and I was convinced that I'd never wanna take the job that they were offering me. Six, seven years later. I did, Yeah. So you. You don't know what your future self is gonna want because you don't know your future self. So it sounds like we're telling this person who doesn't want to step up that she should think very carefully about why she doesn't want to And what that will mean for her at the company, if she says now, and be very honest about two of what her aspirations are and how she thinks she can contribute to the company and possibly give a temporary us, which is the new all all do it for a time. But I don't want to do it long-term, or also suggest that in the future it might be something she would consider, but it's not something she's going to consider now. Yeah, I think a hard, no, as is. Definitely not the right thing to do here. We often talk about shades of yes and shades of no. And in this case saying, no, but coming from a place of yes, uh, feels like the rate scenario. You don't want the scenario where they're not gonna come to you and ask could. So That'll wrap it up for this episode. El. Sinn, Thanks for being on the show to work through these questions with us. Thank you so much for having me. Allison would Brooks is an assistant professor at Harvard Business School. She researches emotions and the psychology of conversation.