We know that leaders play an important role in ensuring that everyone has an equal chance to perform at their best and achieve their career goals. A recent blog post from Harvard Business Review highlighted one key aspect of this responsibility.
The authors described two types of work: “office housework” and “glamour work.” As you’d expect, the first consists of the backstage tasks necessary to keep things flowing – everything from making coffee and taking notes to sitting on routine administrative committees. It needs to get done, but it rarely happens in the spotlight. Glamour work, on the other hand, consists of chairing key committees or task forces, serving on innovative teams, and high-profile or stretch assignments.
The research found that minorities and women spend significantly more time on office housework than their white male counterparts. In some cases, certain people are perceived to be better at organizational or care-taking roles. Others may feel pressured to volunteer for these tasks or face negative consequences for not being a “team player.”
What can managers do? The first step is to identify the main office housework tasks for your team, and then assess whether anyone is doing more than their fair share. Create a system for rotating the tasks and hold everyone accountable for completing them.
When glamour work is assigned, be intentional and strategic to be sure everyone is considered. If some team members are more prepared than others, use strategies such as job shadowing and development plans to ensure that everyone is able to showcase their strengths.
Creating a team where everyone pulls their weight on the routine tasks and has opportunities to grow professionally not only demonstrates inclusivity. It also builds high-performing teams and creates an environment where everyone can succeed.
Dee Anne Bonebright