Join Lori Mackenzie for an in-depth discussion in this video The implicit rules of work, part of Women Transforming Tech: Breaking Bias.
- So transitioning from college to work, one of the most important things to learn is how to read the hidden rules of work, and to navigate those and to find that sometimes there's unconscious bias embedded in them, and then discovering tools that will help us get beyond those barriers. In our research at the lab, one of the things we discovered was visibility is one of those hidden rules of work. That's not just whether you do good work, but about whether others know about it. And in our work we discovered two important kinds of visibility. One is around the skills you have. Do the skills you have align with what your organization values? So for example, if my skills, if my brand, if I'm really known for being a collaborator, but my company also values game-changing research, I need to be known for both in order to be successful in my organization. So one is being known for the kinds of skills that your organization values. The second one is having viability with your assignment. So for example, you might do really great work that nobody knows about, and that won't help you as much as having an assignment that gives you visibility to the senior leaders in your organization. So having assignments and skills that are not only critical to success, but that you are known for those is really important, and one of the hidden rules of work. Now here's one of the challenges around stretch assignments. You might now know that getting a really great high-visibility stretch assignment is critical for your success, and your first inclination might be, let's go tell my boss I want that assignment. And that's where bias might creep in, that likability penalty. We're told to self-promote, to advocate for yourself, to ask for that stretch assignment. But then your boss might say, wow you sure are looking out for yourself and not looking out for the team. That response might be the likability penalty. So one of the things we often tell people is, learn how to negotiate what we would call communally. That request for a stretch assignment could be seen as a negotiation. And learning to make those asks, not just because it's the right thing, but also the right thing for the team, to negotiate communally. That can help you get more of what you want, but also help mitigate that likability penalty. So asking for that assignment because you'll bring something to the team and help move a project forward, can help you get that special stretch assignment that gives you visibility, without possibly evoking that likability penalty.