I am a twenty-six year old woman who spends many hours each week working in a male-dominated industry. I was hired to work in the marketing department. I love my colleagues and overall company culture.
In recent weeks I have been struggling with an issue I know my male counterparts don't encounter: when is being helpful a hindrance?
I was raised by incredibly generous parents, learning at a very young age that when it comes to helping out, it is expected of me. This valuable life lesson has taken me far in life: I have been promoted in past roles due to my ability to step up and help in whatever is asked of me without a second thought or complaint.
Yet like all things, this eagerness can be the downfall to my business success - particularly as a woman.
Since I am the external event organizer in my role with this company, the internal events often fall on my shoulders as well. Our quarterly meetings and events are now my responsibility - from accommodations to reservations to catering, I generally plan and execute all tasks solo. Although it's not my favorite task, it's by no means the worst thing I've been asked to do by an employer.
However, I've found that my helpfulness has hindered my ability to move forward in some regards. To new hires, I appear to be an office assistant, taking lunch orders and making sure the kitchen area is always neat and tidy. When the coffee pot is empty, I've had individuals seek me out as opposed to handling the simple task themselves. It's a degrading feeling, even if it's not on purpose.
As I work to move up in my career, I have been struggling on an internal level to balance who I am and who I want to be perceived as.
I want to be a team player, a helpful hand when needed. I want to ensure smooth sailing for internal events, and I want to be thanked for my hard efforts.
But I also want to be known for my energy and effort in advancing the company forward within the role I was hired to do. I want to share actionable revenue streams, provide insights and key findings to the right teams, and push us into greatness - which in turn then would reflect that greatness upon my efforts.
I am struggling to find a balance. When I am the first to arrive in the office each morning, I am always happy to start the first pot of coffee. But perhaps I need to resist the urge to put away the dishes in the communal drying rack, only taking care of what mess I've made. Perhaps I need to delegate tasks instead of hurrying to add them to my ever-growing pile of responsibilities. Perhaps I am at fault for the position I've put myself in.
Have you been in a similar situation?
How did you find balance between your roles? Any advice for young women in business?
Feel free to share your thoughts, and (with your permission) they will be shared in the next article. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your advice, today.