Male-Dominated Teams

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Dear Linda,
I’ve been with my company for five years, and love my work. There has been a lot of transition in the office, and I am now the only female on the team, working with seven males. A couple of the new male team members are changing the team dynamic and making it less collaborative and less fun. Any thoughts on how I can help change things back to where they were when there were more women on the team?
The-Only-She-On-The-Team

Dear The-Only-She,
It’s hard to be the only female member of a team, particularly when there used to be more female representation. Here are some thoughts on how to better be heard in a male-dominated team.
1. Make it more about the results than about the gender. If your filter is that you are the only female on the team, they will more likely have that filter too.
2. Know the objectives of each meeting, of each task, and focus on driving results in alignment with objectives, working collaboratively with your team.
3. Build relationships with all team members, and work with them to leverage their strengths and support them in achieving personal and team objectives.
4. Be proactive and direct with your communication whether it is written or verbal or nonverbal.
5. This is especially true in times of conflict. Be strong enough to park the emotions and focus on clear communication on the issues, leaving out the drama and feelings as much as possible. It’s not that you should ignore that part, it’s that you would be more respected if you addressed these needs outside the relationship and speak to the facts in your interactions.
6. Join them in their cultural norms in interacting with each other, but also make it clear that you have a clear line, and you won’t cross it.
7. Know how they are playing politics and jockeying for position, influence, recognition, money, etc. and respond accordingly. Don’t fault them for playing these games. It’s just the way they may want to work, and better to try to fit in within your own standards than to rock the boat if it doesn’t need rocking!
8. Choose your battles. Know which ones are worth fighting and go with the flow if it’s not. As a rule of thumb, if you integrity and competence and reputation are questioned, make an unequivocal stand. But if *how* they do something is different, try to work within their system.
9. Help recruit and grow your team. Aim for good people, not just for more women!
10. Build a support network of women and men who can help you make a stand for integrity and competence within your team, and help grow your team’s successes which would benefit all.
Best of luck to you in this cause,
Linda

This letter on Male-Dominated Teams is an Excerpt from Chapter Two: Politics and Power, from our upcoming Ask Linda e-Book

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