Why women work better but men work more successfully

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The Independent Online
Men measure their success by promotion and pay increases, while women are more concerned about doing their job properly. Barrie Clement, Labour Editor, finds there is a considerable "gender gap" between the aspirations of male and female managers.

Women like to be thanked for their performance as managers, but men simply want to be propelled up the hierarchy and paid more.

Employers need to recognise the difference between the personal satisfaction women tend to strive for and the more hard-nosed and concrete rewards desired by men, according to a psychologist.

Jane Sturges, of Birkbeck College, University of London, identifies four different types of managers among 36 employees at BT - from those occupying positions just below board levels to supervisors.

Doctor Sturges describes the "climber" as the person who strives for recognition through traditional "external" criteria and whose goal is to achieve the most senior level of management. All seven of the employees in this category were men - mostly relatively young.

"Having an influence at work is not enough for them to feel successful, they have to achieve a perceived status too," Doctor Sturges told the British Psychological Society's annual occupational psychology conference at Eastbourne. Climbers need to enjoy their work, but are very "goal oriented" in their attitude to career progression.

"The managers who fall into this category as a rule set themselves regular stretching goals and targets relating to their level of pay and their position in the hierarchy. Related to this emphasis on career goals, the climber often has a strong competitive instinct."

The "expert" sees success in terms of competency at their job and being recognised personally for being good at what they do. Seven women and just two men were classified as experts.

They like to be regarded as specialists and seek the respect of colleagues. The expert likes to receive "positive feedback", wants to be thanked for their efforts and derives considerable satisfaction from winning awards.

"To experts, the content of the job they do is more important than their position in the hierarchy or their status within the organisation," says Doctor Sturges.

The "influencer" wants to have a "tangible and positive effect" on the organisation they work for and has little regard for promotion. For older influencers the idea of leaving a mark on their organisation is extremely important. They want to gain autonomy at work, especially those managers who have not reached senior levels.

For younger influencers, success would be achieved by attaining a level of responsibility.

Some managers have tried to achieve influence by involvement in activity outside their normal remit. The "self-realiser" thinks of achievement in "very personal" terms and in a way which means little to other people. Their desire to achieve on their own terms will override the value they place on traditional career success. Self-realisers find it essential that they find their work challenging at a personal level.

Age was also a crucial factor in determining which type of career success a manager favoured. Most of the climbers were relatively young and most of the influencers were predominantly older.

Even the most enlightened employers are nearly twice as likely to take on white job applicants than those from ethnic minorities.

In a study of eleven blue-chip companies, the Commission for Racial Equality found that black candidates consistently fell at two of the three main hurdles in selection procedures.

The main obstacles were encountered at the initial sift of application forms and at the final assessment centre stage where groups of applicants are scored on a variety of exercises over a period of one or two days.

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