How to break the little glass ceiling

broken glass
How to break the little glass ceiling

About the Author

Laura Machan

Laura Machan

Laura Machan is a Partner, Talent Acquisition Group at Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions based in Toronto, Ontario. Although she has been recruiting for quite a few years, she still gets a big thrill from calling someone to set up an interview and an even bigger thrill when she hears a happy dance as she tells them when their new job starts. Laura lives with her family in Oakville, where she has lived for over 25 years, and is a significant contributor to the Canadian Federation of University Women - Oakville and Women in Nuclear, Golden Horseshoe Chapter.

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We have spent a lot of time over the last few months talking about the glass ceiling. In this case, it was one of the biggest, thickest, glass ceilings in the world. It did not get broken.

What about your own glass ceiling? I talk to many people who tell me that they cannot advance their careers because of their current manager.

They hear things like “what would I do without you?” and “I don’t think you are ready for that role”.

The first one is tricky. We take this as positive feedback to what we are doing. We feel flattered so we go on our merry way, feeling good about staying in the same place. But trust me, flattery is fleeting. It will not get you through the tough days.

When a manager tells you are not ready, it may be more a reflection of their needs than of your abilities.

Not all managers have your best interests at heart. Some do and they are truly interested in supporting your career development. Others are just more focused on their own objectives. They probably don’t hold the doors for people either.

So, what do you do if you have the non-door holding type of manager?

Find a mentor – someone else in the organization who can help you navigate other areas and introduce you to new people. (Hint: the lunchroom is a good place to start looking.)

Get a coach – talk to HR or your personal network about finding a coach who can help you identify your path forward and the steps to get there.

Talk to your manager – ask about the future of the company and your work group. Find out what he/she sees happening and ask about how they see your role changing. If there is no mention of a change for you, ask why and then ask the more important question: what should you learn or do differently to change that? How does he/she think you should go about it?

This should provide you with enough information to decide if your future lies within the organization, or whether it’s time to start exploring and taking those head hunters calls.

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