LEADERSHIP / FEB. 19, 2015
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5 Tips for Women Who Have to Manage an Entire Office of Men


As the glass ceiling continues to rise, it’s become commonplace for women to manage teams, departments and whole organisations across diverse sectors of business and industry. However, sexism still exists in some workplace environments, and this can present big challenges to female managers, especially if their whole department is exclusively male.

See also: Top 5 Ways to Manage Office Politics

Here are five tried and tested tips to help female bosses to successfully manage their male staff.

1. Perfection Doesn’t Exist

It’s true to say that women are inclined to be more perfectionists in their attitude than men. This can prove to be something of an issue for a female manager. Learn to accept that nobody’s perfect and that insisting on perfection from your male staff can cause a high degree of stress and discontent. Striving for perfection can also kill creativity and curb natural enthusiasm for the task. This often causes problems in a team situation where new ideas are actively encouraged.

Concentrate on building a work ethic within your team that asks for everyone’s best efforts rather than trying to insist on absolute perfection. This will allow you to praise and encourage, and it will promote a much healthier and more productive environment.

2. Always Be Yourself

Successful managers of both sexes are confident and comfortable in their own individual style and their ability to lead others. Always be true to yourself, your capabilities and your personality. Never make the mistake of trying to put on an act to impress others or, even worse, trying to manage ‘like a man’.

Great female leaders demonstrate many enviable management and leadership traits: intuition, empathy and collaboration, to name a few. You don’t need to try to be ‘one of the boys’ to be an effective manager of men.

3. Always Be Direct

There is a subtle difference in communicating with men as opposed to women. Generally speaking, men prefer a direct approach. Get right to the point of whatever it is you want to say and don’t beat around the bush. This is particularly true of meetings and personal performance reviews. Put together an agenda and work methodically through it point by point.

Similarly, if there is a disciplinary or work-related issue you need to discuss, cut to the chase and deal with it. Male employees appreciate this direct, no-nonsense approach and you’re far more likely to be respected for it.

4. Assert Yourself When You Need To

Men respect a female manager who is confident to challenge others and to speak her mind. Demonstrating that you can be assertive when required to is a good way to gain the respect of the male members of your team. It’s also true to say that the men in your department will want to hear you speak out because, as a woman, you have a different viewpoint and stance to others around them, and they are interested to hear what you think. Male workers are also used to interruptions from the men they work with, so they will expect and accept the same from their female manager.

5. Get Competitive

Men are naturally competitive. Even if your working environment is non-competitive, you can still harness this natural male trait within your workforce. Create opportunities for staff to compete with each other cooperatively to help them excel far beyond both your expectations and theirs.

Healthy competition often leads to higher quality work and serves to build trust, too.

See also: How to Manage a Disciplinary Meeting

Managing a whole department full of men is undoubtedly a challenge for a female boss, but with the right attitude and a little clever psychology, you can bring out the best in your workers.

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