Stuck under a glass ceiling at work? Here’s what you can do about it

Are you prevented from achieving your full potential at work by a glass ceiling? Read practical tips to help you smash through it.  

Increasingly, the media are (rightfully) exploring the issue of equality in the workplace, including equality of pay and opportunities for women.

And often they’ll uncover a perception that, for women, there’s a ‘glass ceiling’ – an invisible barrier that prevents us from achieving our true potential, and artificially limiting our success.

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Are you stuck under a glass ceiling?

But is there really such a thing as an external glass ceiling, constructed by our managers, employers or wider industry?

Or could it be for some of us that we’re holding ourselves back? That we’re limiting our potential with a self-fulfilling notion that we’re not worthy of, or capable of, achieving more?

If this IS true, what can we do about it? And if it’s not – if our potential is being sabotaged by others – how can we increase our chances of succeeding?

To help you, Diane Sheppard from Smart Life Training shares tips on what to do if you’ve been turned down for a promotion at work, and three positive actions you can take to increase your opportunities.

Three things you can do if you’re turned down for a promotion

It’s always disappointing when you’re turned down for promotion. But don’t let a temporary rejection defeat you; there’s plenty you can do to turn the situation into a positive. Here are three ways you can respond.

1) Ask what you need to do now

Speak with your manager about how you can develop your skills to be considered for a promotion of future opportunity. Ask what they would need from you to move to the next level, and request opportunities to show this or acquire the experienced required. Then agree a plan of action to help you work towards it.

2) Move to another company

If your manager doesn’t respond favourably and genuinely give you hope and opportunity for a promotion, look for roles in other companies that will take you to the next career level and apply for them. If your current company or manager don’t value you, find one who will.

3) Be honest with yourself

It’s easy to blame something out of our control for a failure or disappointing result. “It’s not my fault I didn’t get that promotion,” you tell yourself and others, “I was never in the running because I was a woman.”

But is that really the case? It may make you feel a little better right now, but it doesn’t allow any room for learning and growth. Instead be brutally honest with yourself. Perhaps you didn’t get the promotion, opportunity or job because the person giving it didn’t connect with you. Maybe they were just having a bad day, or you might not have been properly prepared. Or there was just someone who was a better fit.

There could be lots of potential reasons why you didn’t get the promotion. And if you want to give yourself the best chance of succeeding next time, you’ll look for any opportunity to improve your skills and chances. But you can only do this if you don’t just make a sweeping assumption that you failed because of your gender.

Want to increase your chances of getting a promotion next time? Read 10 ways to get a promotion at work. And if you don’t get it, here are 10 positive things you can do.

Three things you can do today to increase your opportunities

You don’t have to wait until you’ve been turned down for a promotion to take positive action. Here are three things you can do today to boost your chances of breaking through any glass ceiling at work – whether it’s real or imagined.

  1. Find people you work with that you admire and that have achieved what you want. Write a list of the traits, skills and attributes that they display in the work place, and see if you can work on adding these to your day-to-day approach to your job.
  2. Get a mentor or a career coach. Performance coaches can help you overcome limiting beliefs and mentors can guide you to the quick route to success.
  3. Be a leader in equality; ask men and women in your workplace to teach you what they know, and ask them for feedback on how you can improve. Display the behaviour you want, and treat everyone at work as equal.

Smash through your glass ceiling

Women around the world are climbing the ladder in every industry, and smashing through glass ceilings – whether they’re imposed upon them or self-constructed.

So don’t let anyone – least of all yourself – hold you back. If you want something, go out and get it. And if at first you find your ambitions thwarted, find a way to overcome it and continue on regardless.

Diane Sheppard is a Personal Performance Coach at Smart Life Training, helping ladies achieve the life they dream of threw coaching and personal breakthrough. Release the past to embrace an exciting new future.