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Five Mistakes Managers Make When Recruiting & Coaching Women – and How NOT to Make Them by Jane Sanders
DiversityBusiness.com Article/- Oops! Yet another female recruit or employee chose another job option. What happened? Is it truly that difficult to attract and retain women? Is it rocket science?

The answers are: could be several things; it can be but doesn’t have to be; and, no it’s not rocket science.

Five of many gender differences that often derail recruiting and coaching efforts are outlined below. The solutions, as you will see, are simple…just different from most men’s styles. There are exceptions but the tips below apply to most women.

Seventeen years of gender communication expertise, along with over 200 interviews with managers and female employees at all levels, constitute the research for this work.

#1 – Pitching money instead of fulfillment

Women want to make a positive difference in the world, in their communities, and for their clients. They want to contribute and receive joy and fulfillment from their work. Of course they want and need to be paid equally and fairly, but surveys indicate that fulfillment is most important for the majority of women.

Pitch how the position can make a positive difference in people’s lives. Describe specific true examples. Have recruiters and other employees tell their own personal stories of how they made a difference, so candidates hear it from multiple sources. Connect the dots between the job and positive contribution. Remind employees of this contribution during rough times and challenges.

#2 – Avoiding eye contact

Women respond to connection and mutually rewarding relationships. Whether they realize it, or admit it or not, connection and a feeling of community are key motivators in the workplace. They find it difficult to connect without eye contact. They have trouble developing trust or comfort with someone who doesn’t look them in the eye. To women, a lack of eye contact comes across as intentionally avoiding connection, and is a sign of disinterest and disrespect. They don’t feel taken seriously.

Maintain eye contact during any discussion or conversation with women. Don’t stare them down…glance away every few seconds. Use active listening skills such as nodding, making comments and interested facial expressions, and restating important points so she knows you are engaged and value her input and presence. Ask questions to clarify to show interest.

#3 – Not providing emotional support

Women are motivated by emotional security. This does NOT mean they are weak or any less competent or capable than men. It just means they are most productive and inspired when, as stated previously, they feel a sense of community, belonging, and connection.

Acknowledge her strengths and successes in specific terms. Acknowledge them often, and publicly. Let her vent at the end of a tough day or week - be her safe sounding board. Empathize with her by sharing your own frustrations and how you overcame them. Describe how other producers handled similar challenging situations. Let her see your human side…that you have tough times too. Make sure she knows you are her #1 fan and that you are 100% committed to her success.

#4 – Limiting time with you

Women perform their best when they feel trained, knowledgeable, and confident. They are most productive when they feel supported and cared about – when they have a sense of emotional security and connection. This takes time. They need to feel free to ask questions and get the training they desire.

Plan on longer interviews and meetings and more of them. Have an open-door policy. It will be worth it. Once engaged, trusting, and connected, women generally are more loyal and feel more personal obligation to work hard and perform.

#5 – Judging them as weak

Women often use a more inclusive style of communicating that includes tag questions (“I did pretty well, don’t you think?), apologies, disclaimers (“Well, this is just my opinion, but don’t you think that…?”), and indirect requests (“It sure would be nice to have this report by 10:00.”) Most men have a masculine style that comes across as more powerful, so this ‘softer’ way of speaking sounds less authoritative and weak to them.

Be careful not to judge women as weak or less capable just because they sound less powerful to you. It is just a style difference, and has nothing to do with their intelligence, competence, or managerial potential. Their style is merely a different way of communicating – it is not an indication of lower potential.

I hope these tips are helpful and increase your recruiting & retention success!

Jane Sanders, President of GenderSmart® Solutions, is a speaker, trainer, and facilitator in the areas of gender communication, recruiting & retention of women, selling to women, strategic life planning, presentation skills, and authentic leadership confidence. Jane’s clients include MassMutual, Toyota, Prudential, US Steel, Walgreen’s, Choice Hotels, and many more companies and associations. Located in southern Illinois, she is author of “GenderSmart: Solving The Communication Puzzle Between Men and Women,” published in five languages and available on her website. Reach Jane toll-free at 877-343-2150; jane@janesanders.com; www.janesanders.com.

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