Asking For a Friend | Chapter 10
Advice from Babe to Babe
I was given three tenets of leadership early on in my career at a conference, and I have had them tattooed on my brain ever since: (1) Clarify your team’s shared vision regularly and shepherd your team towards that unified vision; (2) Position your team members based on their identified strengths; and (3) Steward the team by an example of discipline.
Individuals in positions of authority don’t always get there by merit or because they are great leaders. Your team will find and follow their leader whether it’s that person or someone else (you!), so if you have the power to clarify your team’s vision or purpose from your current role, do it. If not, try to position them based on their strengths. If you don’t have control over that either, then set an example of hard work and discipline, and your team will notice.
If you are seriously unsatisfied with your leader’s lack of grit or motivation, talk to their direct report about it. Maybe they will agree and either light a fire under that person or promote you to co-lead with them. That way you will be positioned to effect meaningful change.
—ALISSA MCSHANE, CONTRIBUTOR
I have seen this so many times. Unfortunately, reality means everyone gets busy, and sometimes you don’t get what you need from your leader. When this has happened to me I’ve usually had success taking the following three steps: (1) Network and find other people around you who can give you advice, support or professional guidance; (2) Self-reflect on what you need from your leader and make bite-sized requests of them at regular intervals (on a weekly or monthly basis), so they can answer specific questions and get you those answers at least; and (3) Prepare yourself for your next role, so when an opportunity comes to work with a lead who can support you, you’re ready to jump in head-first. External certifications, informational coffee chats with people in your company and in your industry, internal projects and side hustles are all great ways to upskill when your lead doesn’t give you the opportunity during your regular nine-to-five.
—HILLARY KIRTLAND, CONTRIBUTOR
I’m such a big supporter of learning to lead up. It starts with transparent communication with the leader—they aren’t mind readers. You need to understand what support you need and what you are asking for, then find a way to feel comfortable discussing that. A good leader will give you that space to set expectations of what you need from a manager, while not holding it against you or becoming defensive. If this is not something you think your leader will respond well to, you may need to expand outside of your direct leadership structure. Depending on what support you need, find a mentor or a trusted peer and get the support from there. If it’s something only your supervisor can provide, try requesting a “skip meeting” with their supervisor to discuss the gap. I always recommend trying to have the conversation with your leader first before doing this; give them the respect and courtesy to resolve it first before escalating beyond them.
—LINDSAY ENGLAND, BABE #76
If you work in a service-oriented field and want to ask for extended time off during the holiday season, it would be best to ask for time off well in advance or it won’t be realistic during a busy period for your business. Planning ahead is key, as well as providing options to ease the impact it may have with your absence, such as completing projects ahead of time or finding a temp. —Marisol Samayoa
D: Well in advance and in person (or over the phone), followed by a confirmation email like, “I’m emailing to confirm these dates for my time off.”
—THAIS LAGE, BABE #151
Everyone deserves a break, so if you have the time off accrued according to your company’s policy, and you can financially and emotionally swing a vacation, do it!
That being said, if you’re looking to take a long period of time off—a week or more at a time—good practice is to ask for it in a bit of advance. As someone who creates project timelines, I know how helpful it is to build them around preexisting out-of-office schedules, rather than have vacations surprise me and derail progress.
If your dates of travel are flexible, your manager will appreciate you consulting them, especially if this is a busy season for your line of work. For example: “I’m in the early stages of planning a trip that will keep me out of office for 10 days. I have enough PTO, but I want to get your opinion before we book our flights; which of the following dates work best based on our pipeline of work?”
A key factor when it comes to taking time off is making sure your responsibilities are covered for continuity purposes. Ask a trusted relevant coworker if you can put them in your away email message as the point of contact for urgent matters. Structure that away message to include a greeting, a point of contact for relevant matters, and when they can expect to hear from you upon your return.
When you approach your manager asking for the time off, he or she will appreciate you coming equipped with a communications plan regarding who to ask or how to go about getting updates on your projects, as well as the best method to contact you in case of an emergency. This also means taking on that role as a reliable and helpful coworker when the person who helps you wants or needs to take time off in the future.
—ALISSA MCSHANE, CONTRIBUTOR
Don’t beat around the bush. Be upfront with your need, why you have that need, and how you plan to come back from your extended time away. Do you plan to work remote part-time? Do you plan to actively maintain your network to stay involved? Do you need a complete unplug? How and when do you plan to return? Try to think of the scenario from their point of view, like any negotiation, and give them an offer they can’t refuse.
—HILLARY KIRTLAND, CONTRIBUTOR
That answer is different for everyone and is influenced by the type of work you do. Example: If you talk on phone for work, the last thing you want to do is talk on the phone or maybe interact with a lot of people. The short of it is, whatever brings you joy, relaxation and back to a homeostasis. Cooking is very therapeutic to me because I can create. Exercise, laughing (great stress relief), binge-watching TV, art, reading, music, friends, family—all can be ways to unwind. You just have to try and find what works for you.
—DOMONIQUE JACKSON, BABE #198
It’s not for everyone, but I love to schedule a workout right after work so I don’t have time to go home and change my mind. If I know I’m going to have a particularly stressful day, I try to schedule a workout for the end of that day. I’m not always thrilled to have made the plans when I’m on my way there, but when I’m done and heading home I always feel better and I’m so happy to have ground it out.
—ALEXI STRONG GONZALEZ, CONTRIBUTOR
Lately I’ve been using golden milk to help me decompress and leave the workday behind at the end of a long day. I found a recipe online and have tweaked it each time based on what’s in my spice cabinet. Once I get the recipe started, everything about the practice, from stirring to sipping, helps alleviate stress and push away the shakiness of my busy day. Outside of that, washing my face, diffusing some lavender oil and reading a book never hurt, either.
—MARA STROBEL-LANKA, BWH CREATIVE DIRECTOR
I've become a big bath fan (when I have access to a tub), especially with bubbles, a book and a glass of wine. Taking time to actually read a book or magazine. Calling my mom. Looking at puppy videos on Instagram or Youtube. Walking home from work, if possible, and listening to a fun podcast (not a serious one) or music.
—BRANDY CERNE, BABE #77
Until Next Week,
THE BWH ADVICE GURUS
Asking for a Friend is Babes Who Hustle's weekly advice column that asks and answers the work-related questions on all of our minds. Looking for advice and guidance? Hit us with all of your questions below and stay tuned for next Wednesday's edition!