Tips for Men Who Manage Teams of Women

Posted on 30 September 2016 ( 3 comments )

Whether you’re in a profession that tends to be dominated by females - such as nursing or teaching, for example - or your position at the head of a team of women is just the luck of the draw, you’ll tend to get along better with your staff if you take the time to communicate in a way that works for your staff. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Allow for more time for discussion

While everyone is different, women’s communication styles tend to be more expressive than men’s -- and when you’re managing a group of women, you should definitely take that into consideration. During larger-group meetings, schedule enough time to allow for feedback and more discussion than you might with a more mixed crowd. You might also benefit from having regular one-on-one meetings with each member of the staff, to check in on individual progress.

At the same time, be direct with women you want to develop into leaders

Women may be more expressive, but as a general rule, they tend to be less direct about opportunities for advancement. Your one-on-one meetings will help you identify the women in the workplace who may have the right temperament and ambition for leadership - as will having a process of goal-setting to work through with each employee. When you identify potential leaders, share your ideas with them and offer encouragement, connections for mentorship, or other resources to help develop them to their full potential.

Don’t mention their looks

Saying something about a female employee’s clothing or grooming can too easily be misconstrued as demeaning, or as a sexist remark, or even that you’re trying to hit on the employee. With so many methods of misunderstanding, just avoid it. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take the time to compliment your female staff members on a job well done or to otherwise go out of your way to be friendly - especially on tough days where you’re up against a deadline or you really need your team to be at its best.

Don’t bring up gender

Saying things like "you’re a great female leader" singles out the gender factor and makes it sound like you wouldn’t say the same thing if the woman was surrounded by a group of men. Saying something like "you’re a great leader" gets the same point across, without resorting to sorting people by gender. Likewise, avoid comments about how you feel singled out as the only male in the office, even in jest; that’s only going to lead to gender stereotyping and more focus placed on your differences.

Skip the harsh criticisms and the harsh jokes

Even if they don’t show it, women tend to take harsh criticisms of their work much harder than their male counterparts. Thus, don’t use words such as "incompetent" or "bad work" unless you really mean them. You may be able to yell or berate your male employees, but in a female-dominated office, you’ll upset the recipient of the comment, as well as any of her co-worker friends who happen to hear the story. 

Every person - whether or not they’re the same gender - has a different perception of the world and a different personality, which means you’ll need to also take the time to understand each employee’s unique nature to learn how to best get along with them. However, these tips will help you better manage your team of female employees as a whole.

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