Book Review: Nice girls don't get the corner office

Book Review: Nice girls don't get the corner office
By Lois P. Frankel, PhD

For the ladies exploring management, this book is perfect. You don't have a lot of time; it is short. You need to be able to implement changes in a reasonable fashion; the book sheds light on both long and short term solutions. You don't realize how many subtle changes can make a difference. I found it to be a most valuable resource and one that I've already returned to a few times after finishing it.

The way I came by this book was interesting. I had just experienced a number of instances that made me shift in my seat a little bit at work. A colleague knew I was a little frazzled and they sent the book interoffice envelope style. I admit, both the delivery and the title made me chuckle.

In most of my prior jobs, I would just let things of that nature roll of my back. Yet, back then I was a student, intern or part-timer. Now I'm a manager, full-time, and doing what I feel is very meaningful work. But I also have to deal with, well, uh, I'll say "it". All of "it". And sometimes, "it" ain't pretty. The experiences definitely kept me on my toes, but were resolved. Had I read this book on the first day, I think I would have fared even better. Hindsight, eh?

I was enthralled by this book. It made me really evaluate how I did things, how I communicate, how I look and act. Some things I do pretty well - look people in the eye, take high priority projects capitalizing on relationships and learning from feedback. Some things the book pointed out were really subtle, like the use of minimizing words and phrases like, "Oh, it was nothing" or "It was just a quick project." I'm a little more careful and a bit more concise. Trying to be, anyway.

There are, of course, parts that I really can't get with. For example, I get a strong feeling that I probably smile inappropriately (read: too much). Well, forget that. I like smiling, especially if I've got something to smile about. There was a mention of wearing makeup, which I don't. Mistake #20 is Telling the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth (So help you God). I'm a big fan of truth, transparency and accountability, so I dismiss that as a mistake. Sophocles said "The truth is always the strongest argument." The thing most disagreed with was the alleged mistake of "Working Hard." This was friggin' #3. I'm pretty sure that's one of the most emphasized parts of my division's strategic plan, so again I disagree. I was, however, pleased that the author didn't mention swearing as a mistake, because I love me some swearing. I digress.

Despite the above examples, it was surprising to read through these 101 mistakes and find that I relate to so many. Here are a couple that I have made some progress on:
  • Explaining and apologizing. I often do both at the same time. Sometimes you just don't need to do either, but I like fostering good will. However, cutting out chatter really makes my email writing quicker.
  • Not taking a break. In a previous blog post about management, I said that I wasn't taking a break for the first month. Well, the trend lasted a few months longer. I have been doing a lot better trying to get out of the office. I'm actually thinking about working out during lunch. Besides, I kinda' become a grumpy jerk if I just pound through the day and don't eat or take a breather.
  • Putting work ahead of your personal life. Yeah, still working on this one, but I do try to leave my computer at work twice a week. Also, I'm starting to work out right after, so I'm hoping that will be a nice buffer between the two.
The book might be a little more focused toward a corporate environment, but it can work for everyone. There are many applicable things for every workplace, but sometimes it's talking high executive level stuff. Learning about the culture is quite amazing, if not sometimes puzzling. I recommend this book for women of all ages in management and looking to move up.


Christine said...

Hm, see, some of that book I loved, and other times, I just didn't like the author. I DID like the no apologizing thing. I'm always doing that...good rule to stick with.

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