I work with men and women on our church staff. But right now, I work with a lot more women than I do men in my day-to-day job responsibilities because currently, all my direct reports are women. I have always worked with women in the church in a variety of paid and volunteer roles and have no issues with women or men by gender. But they are different. I'm sure working with me as a man is different than working with a woman in my role.
But I will confess that sometimes, it gets weird and I feel like an outsider at the wrong party. Like this week in my kids ministry staff meeting one of the women proclaimed emphatically to another, "Hey, you know you look really good in that green shirt. It goes awesome with your hair." If this happened in a all men's staff meeting, someone would be punched.
I just laughed and realized, Oh yeah, I'm the only dude at this table.
But along the way, I've learned some things about working with women in specific. I'm sure they fit men to some degree too. But if you're a dude, here's my 4 pieces of advice:
Don't ever assume you can read your female colleagues emotions, attitudes, or feelings. Don't assume that you know what they are thinking or why they may or may not be upset. I cannot afford for the women in my ministry to think they can read me anymore than I can read them. I have a rule... if something's wrong, I say so. If not, then we're good. If you have something wrong and don't say so, they we're still good. It's all about communication and communication must trump intuition.
DON'T FLIRT AND KEEP HEALTHY BOUNDARIES.
Triple that if you're married, cuz it's not funny and you're not cute. Laugh at life. Be complimentary. Be an encourager, just don't flirt. Like you should consider yourself a creeper if you flirt with your staff or your students. Don't meet in your office without the door open or a window visible in hours where people are really in the office. More than one marriage has been ruined by casual flirting that wasn't so casual.
WOMEN DON'T JUST WANT TO BE HEARD, THEY WANT HELP.
There is a myth out there that you women only want to be heard by men. Maybe it's true in marriage, but not in the work place. My experience says in the office, when a woman is bringing me a problem, she rarely is looking for me to say, "Oh, I've been there too. I hear your pain. Let me know if you want my help." It doesn't mean they need me to bulldoze them or handle the problem for them, but rarely are they just wanting to be heard. They want my thoughts or help or resources or ideas or something that resembles leadership. They have plenty of girlfriends and or maybe a spouse to give them an ear. I'm not that guy. So I try and help them solve problems, not just be heard.
ENCOURAGE, ENCOURAGE, ENCOURAGE.
The work place, and sadly, especially the church can have a stigma of inferiority for women. When you choose to empower and encourage them that you are behind them and for them, it creates a culture that is anti the norm. If you're leadership doesn't encourage the women you work with, you'll be working up hill all the time.
oh..and I thought of one more... ASK FOR THEIR INPUT.
In as much as I see stuff through a mans eyes, the women on my team can see stuff I would have normally missed. I save myself a lot of headaches when I get a female perspective on stuff, after all, a lot of what I do as a pastor or leader directly affects lots of men and women. Getting another point of view is super helpful to avoid missing stuff or creating problems I otherwise could have avoided.