After the Webinar: Women in Leadership – A Panel Discussion about Opportunities, Hurdles and Benefits. Q&A with the Presenters

Webinar presenters Tira Hubbard, Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt, and Brenda Dietzman answered a number of your questions after their presentation,  Women in Leadership: A Panel Discussion about Opportunities, Hurdles, and Benefits. Here are just a few of their responses.

 

Audience Question: I’ve been struggling to manage younger team members. I’ve been finding that more people are more sensitive, especially since all the difficulties with COVID. It seems like things have changed, it also seems like people are putting family first and then work. I’m also seeing absenteeism as a problem. Does the team have any thoughts? 

Brenda Dietzman: I’ll just go address some of the generational issues here. We often, and I say we, by that I mean Gen Xers, my age and the boomers, the generation before me, the older generation before me. The term has been kicked around calling younger people snowflakes. And I hate that because they’re not, here’s what they are. They’re healthy. They understand that when they go through trauma, that they need to start the healing process. It’s not suck it up buttercup and get on with your life. It’s how do I deal with this? How do I deal with trauma? How do I integrate the lessons of the trauma adversity into my life? And so, they just don’t know, go home, have a beer, go to sleep, and get up and come into work the next day. They actually want to see a therapist. They actually want peer support. They want education on how to be more resilient, and how to take care of themselves. And as organizations, I think it’s necessary for us to give them that. That’s just a healthy, healthy attitude. Putting their family first is unique because we didn’t. And I would say, and this might be a little harsh. But, I would say, how do we understand the priorities and adapt to those priorities that tend to be a little bit healthier and can be abused by people that are employees that actually understand the system and how to abuse the system? So, they call in sick all the time, or the people who don’t have sick leave left, because when they accrue they spend it. And so, how is that balance? And that is something that is going to be really hard moving forward because you do need to accommodate people who are trying to be healthy. But also, at the same time, making sure that people don’t abuse the system that way. So, that’s my contribution to that.

Tira Hubbard: And I’m a mama of a millennial. And I can say that he is so much smarter than I am on work-life balance and self-care and knowing his why and living his life in a way that he feels very proud of. And so, he’s learned some of those lessons far faster than I did as a Gen Xer. And so, I think, in many of the ways that I’ve had to learn that genders are different. And there are differences in the way that we interact with them. So as much as our cultural differences, and gender differences, there are also generational differences. And so not trying to put my generational lens onto all of my employees and expect that they bring a different lens, and they bring things that I can learn from and then just having conversations about it, too. Because I can learn so much from Gen Zers and Millennials that I need to know

Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt: Yeah, just really quickly because I know we’re going to get to as many questions as possible, but I think we’re really talking about the core issue of or retainment, right? And we’re all struggling with this, the workforce in the United States and around the world is struggling with this, so knowing how to engage family members of your employees and helping them to support their employee and to be a part of that process of keeping that employee healthy and engaged. There are not a lot of secrets here. Most agencies are willing to share what they’re doing. So, in the interest of time, just to encourage you to do a little maybe a little bit of homework and find out what others are doing to really onboard people and then retain them in an environment where they feel valued, and that work-life balance is a little more on cue.

 

Audience Question: What tips and tricks do you have for picking yourself up when you may not have gotten that promotion right away? Like, what do you do to not let it affect you? What advice do you have to continue going on for the next promotion? 

Tira Hubbard: Okay, I love this one, because as I’ve applied for positions. I mean, I mentioned that I apply it against my spouse, right? My position, every time that I have applied for a promotion is that, if it’s not me, it’s going to be somebody cooler than me, better than me, different than me, who fits the needs of the organization when I didn’t.  And so, I can’t wait to work for that person and learn everything I can from them so that I can work them out of their job and myself into it. Right? Like, I’m always excited about the possibility of someone else because I don’t know what they bring that I don’t have. Then, sometimes it is you and you’re like, “Ah, this a lot of hard work. I kind of wish they’d chosen somebody else because now, I have to be the person that brings the sparkly things.” But I think if you can take that approach sometimes. I mean, during my interview for a program manager position, I had just worked with one of the women on my caseload who’d come in and reported that she had been sexually assaulted that weekend. So, right, this blending of sexual assault victims advocate and parole officer. And I was trying to get an advocate there, and my interview was coming up, and I had heels that I was supposed to change into and a suit jacket. And I really just wanted to be with her. And, like you get the advocate, there, in the advocate was running late, and I went into my interview, like, didn’t put on my suit jacket. My feet were sweaty. I just had to go into this interview and be authentically myself. Because if that’s not who they want, then I’m not ready yet, and they’re going to find somebody else. And I’m going to learn from that person, and I’m going to get everything I can so that when it is my time, I’m ready. So, I love this question because it’s so hard for people to not be chosen. But it’s just about changing that frame. And looking at it as an opportunity.

Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt: I would just offer that I remember every evaluation I’ve ever had that was positive with very, very little detail. I learned so much more by the honesty I got during evaluations that said, you really need to work on X, Y, and Z. And boy, did I take that to heart. The times that I testified, I got grilled. Boy, I’d never did that again. So, I’ve learned so much more from the times that I’ve had adversity than, the times I’ve had successes. So, use it as a gift. Use it as an opportunity to better yourself.

Brenda Dietzman: And I would just add to that, that when I was the one making the decisions about promotions when I was the one that made the decisions on that. I was more interested in how the people who didn’t get the job reacted, as opposed to the people who did. Because I wanted to see you in adversity, and the advice I always give people is always leave that person wondering if they made the right decision. So, if you’re ——– and throw a hissy fit and do things that I’ve seen other people do, I know that I’ve made the right decision. But if you go on and you keep your nose to the ——— and you keep working. And I sit there, and I go, “Did I make the right decision?” Because usually there’s not a clear answer, right? There are a lot of good people within our organizations. So, remember that supervisors, people who make those decisions, watch you to see your reaction and keep them wondering if they made the right decision or not.

 

Audience Question: How long should you stay in your current position before considering changing careers or positions? So, the old rule of thumb was to stay in a job for 2 or 3 years. Is that really the case now?

Tira Hubbard: I think that goes back in some ways to the generational question, right? Like, it used to be that someone would be a common officer, and you stay in that job until you retire. And that’s not necessarily the case for millennials and Gen Z. I might be the last generation of people that start a job and retire from a job. And so, we have this expectation now that people may come to this profession and stay with us for 5 to 8 years and move on, whereas it used to be, they’d stay with us for 20 or 30. And so, I think, at any point that you’re not happy, and you don’t love going to work, it’s time to switch it up. Never ever, ever wish for Fridays because if you’re wishing for Fridays, that means you’re wishing away Monday through Thursday. Don’t wish a single day away and if you find yourself wishing more days away than not like it’s time to shake it up. Go do something different. These are the things we can learn from our millennials and Gen Z is work-life balance. Like right? Just go chase happiness. It’s okay.

Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt: There was a time in my life I got too comfortable for too long. And it had a lot to do with work-life balance. But what I will tell you is that comfort can kill a career. So, you get too comfortable, and you want to have a trajectory. There may come a point when you’re not really marketable because you haven’t chosen to invest in yourself. So, again, assuming that everything is lining up for you to be able to make that next job and you’re not going to feel awful about whatever else is going on in your personal life. Everybody’s lives are different, and your obligations and responsibilities might be different. So, it has to work for you. But as soon as that chance, that opportunity is right for you, by all means, take that next risk, get on the rocket ship.

 

Audience Question: Being and I’ve been in leadership for 10 years and feeling some self-doubt if leadership is where I should still want to be. How do you overcome self-doubt due to burnout or exhaustion when you have been in a position for a long amount of time? 

Brenda Dietzman: Take a vacation. So often, if you’re questioning whether it’s Is this really my calling or is it just burnout? Is just really take a real vacation, I mean, like, go to Antarctica, go somewhere where they cannot contact, you get on a cruise ship or whatever. And just spend some time and really start to be honest with yourself and create that plan. What do you want to learn, right? What do you want to experience in life? What do you want to accomplish in life and then how do you want to feel through life? And I think that if you can answer those questions independently of your job, like in the job context, but just in life. You’re going to start to see a direction that you need to go in.

Tira Hubbard: And if it’s the last day of that vacation like you ever tummy ache and a headache and you’re dreading going back to work, start applying for other jobs. Like it’s okay. It’s okay. I get back to work after tomorrow after a two-week vacation. And I’m enthusiastic and ready to go back. And that lets me know that I’m still in the right place. But if I wasn’t, it’s time to start looking for something else. And that’s okay.

 

Audience Question: What advice can you give someone who enjoys doing the job that they’ve worked so hard for? But the work environment is extremely toxic and negative, and it’s starting to take a huge toll on their mental health. 

Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt: You know, I had a conversation with a colleague about this very issue several years ago. And this may not be what you want to hear. But what my advice to her was, after we talked through all of the various variables, was that it wasn’t likely the situation was going to change. So, she really had two options, as I saw it, and as we talk through this scenario, and that was, she could change her attitude about the situation. Or she could change her environment. And ultimately, I think she decided to stay in the environment, because of some personal reasons. But I don’t think she was particularly happy as she exited out the door at the end of her career. So, it really becomes a personal decision. What’s most important to you? And again, sometimes finding value in another organization and starting all over is the absolute right answer. That might not be possible for everybody. But that’s when, again, you have to have that honest conversation. You know, Can I change things, can I change my attitude about how I perceive things, or can I approach people, or do I need to change of environment? Because, a toxic work environment, listen, ladies and gentlemen, there’s only one you, and you want to get to the end of that whatever retirement road looks like for you, and you want to get there in one piece, right? And your family wants to enjoy you for a lot longer. So, working in a toxic environment day in and day out, certainly, is going to impact your health and your wellness. So, it really is a very serious conversation to have.

Tira Hubbard: I would say do some research on locus of control, or circle of control like Wendy was saying, the only things you can really control by yourself. And so, when you really kind of fill out a circle of control – what’s within your control, versus what’s not within your control. Can you live and maintain health and wellness just by focusing on the things that are within your circle of control? If you can’t, then that’s when it’s time to look elsewhere. And I’ve been there, I’ve been at the place of burnout and toxicity. That I thought I was going to have to leave that early in my career, and the organization shifted. And things changed. And it’s not a toxic environment, but there was a period of time when I had to focus only on what was on within my circle of control. And focus on things that gave me passion and energy and refilled me within that circle. And I’m glad that I stayed because it really paid out, but sometimes it doesn’t.

Brenda Dietzman: And I would say that some people thrive on being that change maker. I know that I’ve met your people, and they absolutely adore you. So, I’m sure that you are a part of that change. So, it depends on your calling. It depends on how much you can stomach. And it also depends on if you have the backing of those people that hire you, or that are your supervisors that will allow you to be that change maker and if the environment is right for that. And if you have enough people, that you can tip the scale, to make what happened with —–happen. Because if it’s just one person going into a toxic environment, there, they’re probably not going to make that happen. But if they have just enough people maybe they can turn the organization around. And I’m finding that is extremely important in government right now, because there are a lot of toxic environments out there in public safety, and government service right now.

 

Audience Question: I have run into a few hurdles being the only female on the road with my job. One is that I have been denied every extra training I have requested, even after I have provided a written out explanation as to why it’s important or pertinent to our job in law enforcement. I was actually denied twice to attend a women in law enforcement training that was even local to our area. I’m currently doing this webinar on my own time while on maternity leave. The extra trainings I’ve done have also been on my own time and at my own expense. There seems to be very few selected employees, particularly men who get to do the trainings, who are granted any training time they request, and yet, I am continually denied. What is your advice?

Tira Hubbard: I mean, I don’t know how you feel about southern Oregon. But we’re hiring. I’m just I’m so sorry, like. I’m just so sorry that that’s your experience, and I think that many women have had those experiences. And I hope that you can stay strong and push through them. And I just love that you are seeking your own opportunities. I’ve done similar things where I’ve participated in things on my own time. I paid for my own trainings and my agency eventually shifted, and it’s not like that anymore, but I’m just really sorry that that’s your experience. So also, Southern Oregon is hiring.

Brenda Dietzman: You know, again, it goes back to change agent, all right. Are you going to stay in your organization? Are they going to promote you so you can get into that position of authority? So, you can make those changes. Is that your role in this life and in this organization? If it’s not, you can go elsewhere. One of the questions that I get a lot like whispered in the corner where no one else can hear is, this is a legal issue, and I’m not an attorney. So, I can’t give legal advice, but, you know, do I seek that counsel or seek counsel to see if there’s something? And is that something that I should do? Because sometimes, unfortunately, there are consequences to that. So, there’s a lot of weighing back and forth on that, and I mean, I was the number two person at a pretty big organization. I know, Wendy, that you actually ran organizations. So, I don’t know if you have any input on that.

Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt: I’m not sure if this was part of your strategy. But I personally would ask, to meet with whoever made the decision, and ask for some feedback as to, “This is my perception, and this is why I want to attend.” I understand. You already put that in writing, but have you heard back from your decision-makers as to why you were denied? And perhaps, why some of these other people have been able to attend training. So that might be a baby step if you haven’t already tried that. And I agree with the other things you’ve heard from my colleagues here, Brenda and Tira. That’s a really tough spot to be in, and you kind of got to tread lightly and tread very intentionally as to what your next steps might be.

 

Audience Question: What do you look for in a mentor? Each of you, what do you look for?

Tira Hubbard: I say, go for my jugular, like, don’t hold back, criticize me, critique me, like, give it to me straight. I don’t want things sugarcoated like I need to just be vulnerable and trust and like take whatever you give me and take it to heart and not be defensive about it. And so that was like one of my first conversations with my mentor. It was just like, give it to me. That’s what I need you to do.

Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt: I think the selection process is absolutely critical because not everybody wants to mentor somebody and not everybody is the right mentor for each person. So, understanding what it is you might need from a mentor relationship and then seeking that person out. So, for example, I talked about this a little earlier. You’re not necessarily looking for a cheerleader. That’s kind of probably your friends’ role. This is the person who’s going to tell you, as Tira said, what you may not want to hear. But that selection process, I think, too, is also a rather organic process in that it kind of tends to unfold, if I have found any way that when that’s been successful, it’s kind of unfolded naturally in your relationships and professional development or professional relationships with other people. And then your ability to reach out and say, I really respect where you’re coming from. I respect your position, I respect and I hear what you say. I’m really looking for growth in the trajectory of my career. Would you be willing to have coffee with me? And then see how that goes for both of you. Because mentorship can also be very time-consuming, and the person that’s mentoring you, maybe taking on more than they are capable of taking. So, I would just encourage you to think very strategically about the selection process, and who might be the right mentor for you. And keep in mind, men, women, the person is the person. It’s not necessarily a gender issue. But be very selective in your selection process.

Brenda Dietzman: I completely agree with Wendy on this. That it is organic. It has to be organic. I am not a big fan of organizational mentorship programs that say, you are going to mentor this person. Because it rarely works because it’s kind of like an arranged marriage, it just doesn’t work that well, so it has to be organic. I love what Oprah says about mentorship, and I can imagine how many requests she gets to be a mentor, right? And she says, I’m mentor something when I see that, and I say, I want that to grow. It’s like, I see something in that person, and I want that person to grow. And so, it really has to happen organically. The other thing that I would say is, maybe not just one mentor in your life, maybe multiple mentors. I am great. I’m a great mentor when it comes to having hard conversations with people. When it’s, being honest with people and helping improve them. I was, not too much anymore, maybe a little bit still, but I would be a horrible mentor when it comes to work-life balance. So, pick your mentors wisely and get the best out of a group of people, as well. And then, one last thing, I will tell you, I got played by somebody one time, in a good way. This person should come into our organization. Here’s a little bit younger than I was, kind of starting out her career, and she would come to my office, and we would have great conversations. And, one day, she looked at me, and she goes, “You know what, I really want to thank you for the time you’ve taken with me. I’ve learned so much from you, and I don’t have to make those mistakes, and, and I really appreciate that you guided me on this. I really appreciate you being my mentor.” And when she said those last words, I immediately, the cape started flowing, you know? And I was like, “Oh my goodness, I’m your mentor.” And even though I was doing that, it immediately cemented that relationship, so I got so played like she was really, she’s a very smart individual, right?

Host: She assumed the close Brenda; she assumed the close.

Brenda Dietzman: She played me like a fiddle there, but it’s just naming people like that and letting them know that you look to them like that is also important.

 

Click Here to Watch a Recording of Women in Leadership: A Panel Discussion about Opportunities, Hurdles, and Benefits. 

 

 

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