Q. I am in a health care management position. I am female. I recently had a person (female) categorize me as “mean,” I thought I was being “assertive.’ She said she liked it when I worked because I would confront the problem. So here are my questions, “Why are women so afraid of using their voices and how did assertive look like mean?”

A. Managers who want to be affective at their jobs need to be assertive. It is a required skill. If you don’t have it please rethink applying for that management position. Also don’t apply if you are mean or need to micro-manage your employees.
It is interesting that this younger female found her manager to be “mean.” Women are either not being educated on the necessity of assertiveness or they are afraid to do it.
Has anyone heard the following:
When men say NO, that is the end of the conversation.
When women say NO that is the beginning of negotiation.
As a manager, NO is sometimes necessary. It is what it is. No you cannot do that, no that will not work, no you can’t take off. But a good manager knows how to deliver with assertiveness and resolve the issue.
The workplace runs much smoother if a manager really knows how to “manage.” Be assertive when you see something that needs to be addressed and please listen to issues that your employees bring to you. Don’t burn out exceptional employees because you do not take action.
All employees need to be working. Everyone is getting paid to WORK, not just SHOW UP. Take care of problems as they are developing. Remember that you are the MANAGER, that means manage. Let you employees see that you are assertive and concerned; you will earn their respect.
You may not always be popular, sometimes people may not like your decisions. Have an explanation that makes sense. One of the biggest complaints heard about ineffective managers is to deny a request for time off with a ridiculous explanation. When employees request time off and they are told NO, have a legitimate reason.
Being a manager requires assertiveness, not meanness. A female who uses her voice with direct assertiveness in an attempt to problem solve and create a positive work environment will be appreciated.