We're all familiar with the glass ceiling that women often hit as they climb the corporate ladder towards the executive suite. The air is quite rarefied at the top and the numbers of women that get to inhale it are few (according to the 2009 Catalyst Census, women held 13.5% of executive officer positions at Fortune 500 companies in 2009), but new research finds that men are also subject to this limitation, perhaps for similar reasons.
According to Andrew O'Connell, an editor with the Harvard Business Review Group, new research from a team led by Mark Frame of Middle Tennessee State University found that as people move up the corporate ladder they are increasingly surrounded by "people who put a lot of stock in assertiveness and independence...rather than on such things as caring about others' feelings." On his blog about sensitive men O'Connell says the findings support the notion that upward mobility in corporate America requires more "task-focused behaviors" and less demonstration of "communal" qualities.
Despite what people might say, most of us are awful at handling criticism. In fact, nothing makes people bristle more than being told they didn't do or say something well. The first response typically is to defend yourself and explain why you did or said what you did. In your head you are thinking, "If I only put this in the right context then he will know why I did that and will acknowledge that I was right." Yeah. Right. That's not likely to happen-at work or at home.
Peter Bregman, CEO of Bregman Partners, a global management consultancy, had an interesting take on this topic in his blog at Harvard Business Review . He used his own reaction to criticism he received in 1990 to explain his point of view.
If you took piano lessons as a child you were probably told by your teacher (and mother) that it was important to practice to improve your play. This concept also made its way into a joke that goes something like this:
Have you heard the tale about how one blogger-angry at Maytag for its terrible customer service-attracted 2,906 comments on her blog at dooce.com and reached one million others with her tweets? You can bet that the frustration she had with her Kenmore washer was nothing compared to the headaches her rants caused the parent company. Did Maytag learn from its mistakes? According to Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler, officers at Forrester Research and authors of Empowered (Harvard Business Review Press, September 14, 2010), they did: The company now responds to tweets that its customers post online. But they would have caused themselves less grief and negative publicity if they had a strategy in place to empower their employees to reach out to their customers online. According to Bernoff and Schadler, "To succeed with empowered customers, you must empower your employees to solve customer problems.
The Web continues to shake up industry after industry. The latest is academia with its well-established process of scholarly peer review. The practice of submitting papers to medical journals for peer review is older than most of us. Traditionally it's the way to a long and tenured career as a professor. "Publish or perish" is the academic motto and submitting ones work to one of the esteemed medical journals for review by a select group of peers has been the way to survive in this world.