When Your Senior Management Asks For A “Development Plan”

When Your Senior Management Asks For A “Development Plan”

When Your Senior Management Asks For A “Development Plan”

My sister-in-law is a professional, successful mid-career woman managing an international subsidiary for a publicly-traded engineering firm.  The shareholder pressure to bring more women into management must be working because her senior management just asked her to write up a self-development report.

What Are The Pitfalls?

The unspoken message is that they are looking for women to promote.  Great news, right?  Well, maybe.  She sent me her answers to the questions, and they reflected some of the major roadblocks that we ourselves contribute to that hold us back.  Below are some pitfalls she fell into and suggestions for a new language.  I hope you find these helpful when you are asked to write a development plan:

  1. What support do you need?
    • The use of the word “coaching” evokes a lower-level position. You might try “one-on-one mentoring with Senior (or, C-suite) executive.”
  2. What do you see as your next role?
    • Women do not put themselves forward for a position until they can “check all the boxes.” Think 2 or 3 steps ahead, and put that down instead.
  3. What experience do you have?
    • Instead of highlighting your “in the trenches” experience, paint a picture of your skills in visionary or truly strategic. These are the leadership traits that are often not associated with women due to unconscious bias.
  4. What experience do you have?
    • Women often demur from “glass cliff” assignments that are high risk-high reward and can catapult a career. Use words like Leading a Task Force or Assignment to the CEO to help management see you in the place you want to be.

I’d love to hear your specific situation. Please share it below.

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