Office Diva: Get the Treatment and Recognition You Deserve at Work
Why You Should Embrace the Diva in You
Girl, How Awesome Are You?
Fiery. Demanding. High maintenance. And that's you on a good day at the office.
Girl, you are the Office Diva, and you have decided to embrace the goddess that you are. Let 'em call you what they will. (We all know haters gonna hate.) But just know this: When it comes to how you do your work, you got it goin' on. And on and on.
You're competent, confident, and educated. You're classy, sassy, and at the top of your game. Actually, sis, you own the game.
Some have tried to bring you down, but girlfriend, you ain't fallin'. No, you keep gettin' back up, beatin' those odds. Now you shine so bright that the rest of those cube dwellers are gonna need sunshades.
That's because ain't no one comes close to you—unless you let 'em.
Pop Diva Katy Perry: International Smile
Don't Deny Your Divadom
Dang, girl! Is this you? Are you that good?
Being the Office Diva is an art. There are imitators, impersonators, and a whole lot of wannabes. But you—well, lady, you are the real deal.
Let's Get the Definition Straight
Wikipedia defines "diva" as a woman of outstanding talent, typically including celebrities such as singers and actresses. It's an Italian word that first applied to opera singers.
But we're expanding that definition to dynamos in any work domain, such as politics, sports, and the media. We're also including those power-house employees who are the brains and the talent behind businesses both big and small.
Whether you're the Diva of Data, a Sales Diva, or the goddess of any niche in between ... you know who you are.
Here's How We Define Diva:
D ynamite performer who is
I nfinitely self-confident,
V ictorious against the odds & an
A ttention-seeking maven.
Reader Poll: How's Your Tiara?
Are you worthy of the term
Broadcasting Diva Oprah Winfrey
Rule 1: Cultivate Expertise by Finding a Need, Then Filling It
Girl, you know you're great at your job, but tell us this: What is your expertise?
- "I analyze data so business numbers tell a convincing story."
- "I recruit top sales talent for the world's largest consumer products company."
- "I help food manufacturers achieve USDA and FDA compliance."
When people ask you what you do, don't bore them with your job title. That means nothing. Instead, take it as an opportunity to describe your expertise.
Most people can claim expertise in something, even if it's very narrow. However, they may not
- realize it
- know how to succinctly package it for communication
- understand how to demonstrate its relevance and value to those who need it or
- grow and transform their expertise to keep pace with change.
Political Diva Hillary Clinton
Take the Quiz: Are You the Office Diva?view quiz statistics
Expertise Requires Seasoning
Experts lay claim to a specific practice area. Others turn to them for answers and advice regarding their subject matter knowledge.
In many fields, it takes as long as 10,000 hours of deliberate practice—or about 10 years' experience—to be regarded as an expert.1 Thus, becoming an expert and the Office Diva involves professional "seasoning."
The Office Diva finds her professional niche based on her experience, natural affinity for a specialty, and what talents are in demand. She finds a business need and then fills it. Strategic, the Office Diva carves out her niche based not only on what her employer needs but also on where her field or industry is going.
Whereas her specialty area might bore, overwhelm, or confuse others, the diva is delighted that it does because that allows her the opportunity to shine more brightly. She acquires respect as she shares answers and solutions.
The Office Diva understands that finding a valued niche means that her reputation and credibility grow along with her knowledge. As her expertise becomes more well-known, she acquires more influence, power, and control.
As this occurs, the Office Diva discovers that she can increasingly name her price, her terms, and even have a voice in who she chooses to work with. Now, dahhling, that's the glory of Divadom!
Own Your Diva Status
There's nothing wrong with being phenomenally competent at what you do and promoting the talents that your offer the world.
Beyoncé Sings the Diva Anthem
Tell Your (Short) Story
The Office Diva has learned that it's not simply what she knows but how she markets her expertise—both inside and outside her company. Therefore, she takes the time to build her personal brand. She communicates mastery of her niche in 10 words or less. This expertise statement helps her answer the proverbial "What do you do?" question.
Additionally, the Office Diva can succinctly explain to co-workers, clients, and executives why her expertise is relevant to the situation they face and what value (or results) she can deliver. She describes the problem then casts herself as the solution.
As an example, consider the Office Diva who proclaims, "I help federal contractors achieve OFCCP compliance." She should be able to briefly articulate what a federal contractor is, offer a dollar estimate of the company's federal contracts (her relevance), and rattle off the impacts of not complying with regulations (her value).
When you've done that convincingly, heads turn and ears perk up. And then, Diva, the floor is yours!
Singing Diva Mariah Carey
Rule 2: Effectively Self-Promote
Girl, stop being so shy. There's nothing wrong with self-promotion when you have the expertise and authority to support your claims.
You don't have to be the world's premier expert at what you do—just expert enough. Stop waiting for someone to crown you an authority. If you're already there, you know it!
Reach out to Others to Share Your Good News
An Office Diva actively engages other professionals both inside and outside the workplace. Whether it's in the lunch room, at a professional conference, or waiting for a client meeting to begin, she asks key questions then actively listens to the answers.
She understands that efficient self-promotion means determining who key players and decision makers are. She gets these people talking about their favorite topic -- themselves.
The Diva knows her clients, her potential competition, and what factors drive their attitudes and decisions on key matters. She identifies and discusses the business problems that keep them up at night. She develops understanding of their challenges, opportunities, goals, and talents. In so doing, she also earns the right to share the same information about herself.
Even if you don't think their issues may be immediately relevant to you, your new learnings may allow you to create broader context and linkages that could prove valuable in the future.2
When you self-promote, consider ways you can help one another. Talk about your track record and connect the dots between your expertise and others' business problems.
Share what drives your expertise forward:
- What results have you achieved in the past?
- What problems have you solved?
- What big learnings do you have to share?
- How have you inspired others to achieve more?
- What excites you?
- What business issues do you foresee becoming more important in the future?
If you self-promote effectively, you'll find that others will begin to promote your personal brand for you through word-of-mouth.
10 Self-Promotion Ideas For the Office Diva
- Join the digital conversation. Use LinkedIn, Google+ circles, Twitter, and other social media platforms to gain recognition. Actively share with professionals inside and outside your company, field, and industry.
- Ask for LinkedIn endorsements or written feedback from clients, co-workers, and others. Testimonials come in handy during performance evaluations and job hunting. Make sure to return the favor.
- Attend and actively participate in industry and professional conferences.
- Showcase your expertise by writing guest posts for blogs, creating a video tutorial, or giving a speech to a community or professional group.
- Mentor a Diva-In-Training (or a divo, her male equivalent). She'll never forget you, and she'll sing your praises.
- Be a people and expertise connector—the common link that introduces other experts, decision makers, and leaders to one another.
- Enthusiastically express your admiration for people who are good at what they do. Inspire and encourage others experiencing temporary setbacks by sharing a personal story.
- Set up "informational" lunch meetings with people in the organization you admire—influencers, experts, and leaders. Ask them how they got to be so awesome. (Just don't be weird about it.)
- Volunteer to work on inter-departmental task forces and committees so you can expand your expertise and your connections.
- Acquire additional training outside of your area of expertise. Stay connected to fellow trainees. Share what you've learned with people who need to know.
Diva, Don't Be Shy! Promote Your Talents
Tip 3: Build an Entourage of Devoted Supporters
Office Divas know that no one succeeds alone. They build an entourage consisting of a committed circle of trusted supporters, or fans.
The diva's devotees provide mutual support and advice, facilitate connections with others who can help, and promote the diva's professional brand (i.e., her expertise and reputation). In return, the Office Diva does the same for them. The diva knows that people feel compelled to help those who have helped them.
Diva How-To: Build A Fan Base
People like to be associated with winners, experts, and authorities. Thus, a diva begins to build her entourage as she shares her expertise, vision, and track record. Like-minded others are drawn to her success. They believe in her story and recognize that she may prove helpful to them.
Diva, strategically handpick your followers by providing them with
- useful information,
- assistance, or
- a referral.
Make sure they know your story (and you, theirs). Ask for their feedback, assistance, or ideas on small issues at first. Genuinely compliment them. Show them that you
- are action-oriented,
- a risk-taker,
- are willing and able to help them,
- can withstand criticism, and
- have big dreams.
And then let them bring other fans to you.
Publishing Diva J.K. Rowling
Tip 4: Act the Part and Own the Room
For most people, meetings are the menace of office productivity. On average, employees spend 5.6 hours trapped in them. Knowledge workers and managers typically spend 25-80% of their time in meetings.3
But the Office Diva uses meetings as an opportunity to showcase
- her good judgment
- communication skills.
Let's face it: Meetings typically expose you to a broader variety of influencers from across your organization and even outside your company. This includes clients, executives, consultants, and people who work in other departments.
Each of them evaluates you by how you walk into the room, how you sit, how well you listen, comments you make, and who you seem to ally yourself with. You can influence their perceptions.
Inspirational Ted Talk: Fake It Until You Become It -- Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
How to Make Your Best Impression
To make your best impression:
- Make a Rock Star Entrance - Enter the room like you belong there. In only 1/10 of a second, people form impressions based on a stranger's face, and those impressions are difficult to change.4 Smile, and go in with a purpose. Studies show it affects the "emotional temperature" in the room.
- Communicate With Confidence - You were included in the meeting for a reason, so share your experience and viewpoint. Ask questions to show engagement. Speak up so you're loud enough to be heard. Don't delve into too much detail. Be succinct and to-the-point.
- Watch Your Nonverbals - Adopt great posture and a firm handshake. Keep your chin up, avoid slouching, and maintain eye contact to connect with others. Be aware of body language such as over-gesturing (e.g., repetitively tapping a pen) or turning away from people. And watch where you sit around the conference table.
- Tune In - Focus on the social situation at hand. Almost 91% of employees in one study admitted to daydreaming in meetings, and 39% acknowledged sleeping.5 Be present mentally, rather than answering emails or thinking about where you're going for lunch.
- Look the Part - Your "work uniform" should convey competence, confidence, and class. Watch skirt length, the amount of skin you show, and those shoes. I once worked with a diva wannabe who wore skirts so short that when she sat down and crossed her legs, others could look straight up her dress. That's the wrong impression, but a memorable one.
Tip 5: Know the Difference Between Diva and Difficult Employee
Diva, let's face it: You know that you're all that. But think before you act out.
Hissy fits, alienating co-workers, slamming things down when you don't get your way -- these episodes of high drama are unbecoming of anyone. In addition, research shows that professional women who display anger are perceived as lower in status, more "out of control" and less competent.6
There's a Fine Line
Although it's unfair—because angry men are not penalized in this way—remind yourself that such behavior is inconsistent with the image you want to project. Do you really want high drama to detract from your awesomeness?
Remember that "soft skills" such as getting along with team mates and being professional and courteous are just as important as your technical expertise. Somewhere there is a line between Office Diva and difficult employee.
Just make sure you know where that line is.
Olympic Divas Revel in the Spotlight
How NOT to Manage Divas and Other High Performers
Management Mistake & Rationale
What It Does To High Performers
Potential Impact On Employers
The employer provides ever-changing priorities and business initiatives, believing it reflects the nature of the business environment they're in.
When new initiatives are like Baskin Robbins' Flavor-of-the Month, employees begin to feel jerked around. They sense that the organization has no clear sense of direction. They tune out.
According to a Gallup poll, 71% of American employees are "not engaged" or "actively disengaged" from their work. They are emotionally tuned out from their work, less likely to be productive, and more likely to turnover.
The employer claims to pay for performance but doesn't sizably differentiate rewards and recognition for high and low performers. Management believes employees should feel lucky to have a job.
High performers thrive on merit-based reward and recognition. Failure to differentiate levels of pay, career progression, bonuses, and awards creates deep dissatisfaction.
According to a 2014 survey by CareerBuilder, 45% of employees dissatisfied with advancement opportunities intended to leave.
Managers believe they don't have the luxury of allowing people to work on what they're good at.
Assigning a high performer tasks that anyone (less talented) could do will make them feel bored and disengaged.
39% of employees in CareerBuilder's survey reported feeling underemployed. One in five employees plan to change jobs in 2014.
Management demands employees "do more with less." They believe high performers can take on significantly higher workload without consequences.
Just because a high performer is capable of taking on mountains of extra work doesn't mean they don't feel the strain. They feel stress and need Work/Life Balance, too.
According to a poll by the non-profit Families and Work Institute, more than half of employees felt overworked and overwhelmed.
Summary: The 5 Rules Of Divadom
Cultivate Expertise by Finding a Need, Then Filling It
Build an Entourage of Devoted Supporters
Act the Part and Own the Room
Know the Difference Between Diva and Difficult Employee
'70s Disco Diva Donna Summer: She Works Hard For the Money
1Szalavitz, Maria. "10,000 Hours May Not Make a Master After All." TIME.com. Last modified May 20, 2013. http://healthland.time.com/2013/05/20/10000-hours-may-not-make-a-master-after-all/.
2 Warrell, Margie. "Self-Promotion Is Not Crucial (Unless You Want To Get Ahead!)." Forbes. Last modified April 29, 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2013/04/29/self-promotion-is-not-crucial-unless-you-want-to-get-ahead/.
3Oklahoma State University. "Meeting Analysis: Findings from Research and Practice." Last modified 2001. http://www.okstate.edu/ceat/msetm/courses/etm5221/Week%201%20Challenges/Meeting%20Analysis%20Findings%20from%20Research%20and%20Practice.pdf.
4Wargo, Eric. "How Many Seconds to a First Impression?" Association for Psychological Science. Last modified July, 2006. https://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/observer/2006/july-06/how-many-seconds-to-a-first-impression.html.
5INFOCOM. "Meetings in America." Verizon. Last modified 2014. https://e-meetings.verizonbusiness.com/global/en/meetingsinamerica/uswhitepaper.php.
6Brescoll, Victoria L., and Eric L. Uhlmann. "Can An Angry Woman Get Ahead? Status Conferral, Gender, and Expression of Emotion in the Workplace." Psychological Science 19, no. 3 (2008): 268-275.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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