The wrong background?


I was recently promoted into a senior role within a technical team. I am the only female within a team of 10. All of my colleagues come from a technical background, whereas my history is in sales.

I know I was appointed for my skills in managing people, but I am constantly reminded that I lack 'technical knowledge' by my so-called colleagues. My difficulty is that I don't want to be a plumber, joiner or other trade. I enjoy managing successful teams, but I am beginning to doubt my people skills with the constant put downs! It is having an effect on how I interact with my peers as I feel my opinions are not valid or relevant.

How do I overcome this without becoming a builder?

Mary, UK

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Michelle Brailsford's Answer:

Well Mary, why not try using a technique I call the Balanced response? First, you say something positive about the 'comments' being made by colleagues. For instance, "I can appreciate that its important for you to want my comments, suggestions or remarks to come from a place of expertise".

Then you take a deep breath. You DO NOT say "but". You say "AND". You then present your concern or issue with the 'put down'. 'And my concern is you seem to feel the sales expertise and people management expertise are less important than technical expertise'. Then, shut up! Let your colleague respond.

Either he will say, "oh no! I value what you do! I couldn't manage people like you!!". In which case you have validation.

Or they will say, "Yes, that is correct. I don't view those skills as equally valuable in this business." In which case, I would try to have data at hand that shows that the best performing companies in your industry are this that have both technical excellence and relationship excellence!


About our Expert

Michelle Brailsford
Michelle Brailsford

Michelle Brailsford is is a founding partner at Jupiter Consulting Group, LLC, a boutique learning & development consultancy dedicated to adding life back into work. She focuses on the people side of her clients' businesses and in particular, organisational politics and personal power.