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You must exercise due diligence to motivate talented employees and retain them for an efficient and productive workplace. But many male managers unwittingly mismanage their female employees.

Having been raised by a single mom and having managed women in my career, I’ve learned a lot of lessons to share.

Even if you’re conscientious and want to be an effective manager of women, it’s not rocket science but you can inadvertently make mistakes.

Women often feel misunderstood. They regularly feel belittled.

True, some women are defensive and over-react. But that’s true for men, too.

Sometimes men think they’re being considerate of their women employees.

In reality, they go overboard.

Enlightened women know when they’re being patronized, and they don’t appreciate it.

So here are five tips:

1. Don’t make comments that come across as debasing.

Keep the focus on her work not her gender. Don’t tell a woman she’s attractive or has a great figure. Imagine how you’d react if a woman boss were to comment you have a great physique.

Your comment will often be perceived as demeaning. Or worse, you’ll be accused of being creepy.

Don’t congratulate her for being a great woman employee. Nor should you mention she has a successful career despite having a family.

Simply comment on her work achievements (or shortcomings as an employee).

2. Be honest and assertive when reviewing their performances.

Many male managers are dishonest – they hold back criticism for several reasons. They fear potential accusations about diversity, complaints from defensive employees, the stereotypical women crying, or an endless round of questions.

Be empathetic but not disingenuous. Don’t ignore poor performances or come across as patronizing. Avoid the common 12 errors in evaluations.

3. Encourage full participation in employee meetings.

Ask shy employees to participate. Encourage them to share their opinions. They may very well have valuable insights – profitable ideas – for the welfare of your organization.

It’s true many women – even if they’re ambitious – don’t know how to participate in meetings. They don’t know how they can enhance their careers in Group decision-making.

It’s up to you to do your best to encourage them to participate.

4. Promote talented women even if they don’t ask for a better position.

Some women ask for promotions early in their careers but are ignored. The shy ones won’t try it again.

Others are honest and reject promotions if they don’t feel they’re qualified.

Either way, advise your female workers to apply in cases you feel they’re qualified.

It’s also your job to help employees to grow professionally.

5. Having a family doesn’t indicate a woman isn’t interested in a successful career.

True, young mothers need flexibility. Emergencies happen. But don’t let it color your thinking.

Once as a youngster with my low-income mother at work as a secretary, the daycare was closed. My mother didn’t have a choice. My younger brother and I were forced to take a cross-town bus to stay with an aunt. I gave the bus driver instructions where to drop us off. But he forgot. For several hours, we rode the bus back and forth across town.

When we didn’t arrive, my aunt notified my mother who was predictably horrified. She left the office to search for us. Thankfully, she had an understanding boss who drove her around until we were found.

Obviously, the children do grow up and moms don’t have to worry like mine did in that bus episode. So be mindful when they need flexibility and don’t ignore talented women forever.

From the Coach’s Corner, more related management tips:

HR Tips — So Your Recruiting Enhances Diversity, Not Sexism — Can we agree that a diverse workplace leads to innovation, problem-solving and enhanced enterprise communication? And, as you know, inequality is unlawful. Why then are there so many companies that unknowingly, perhaps, promote sexism? That’s right.

Tips for Marketing Your HR-Policy Changes to Employees — So you’ve identified workplace policies that need to be updated. But you want your policies to be accepted and followed by your employees. Employees are often uncomfortable with change even if it’s necessary for a business turnaround. Remember high morale among employees propels profits.

HR Management – 8 Best Practices in Employee Delegation — Avoid frustration in delegation. Save yourself time and develop your staff for the welfare of your organization. Delegation is a fundamental driver of organizational growth. Managers who are effective in delegation show leadership. They know they’ll be more effective in management and that they’ll develop their employees.

10 Steps to Manage Conflict for High Performance — For progress, a business needs human interaction for ideas and innovation. Sometimes, argument, debate and conflict prove to be productive catalysts for high performance. But such catalysts can be obstacles to success, too. Here are the simplest ways to manage conflict.

6 Quick Tips So Employees Respect Your Authority — It’s an awful feeling when your authority is non-existent. You’re not taken seriously. Employees are in charge. It’s also an indicator of related issues: Most often, profits are minimal. Customers become disenchanted and leave.

“Women always worry about the things that men forget; men always worry about the things women remember.” 

-Marjorie Kinman Rawlings 


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.