Career Management for the Future
And, to top it all off, organizations are continuing to change at a dizzying rate. They are either consolidating resources or locations, restructuring, reducing layers of bureaucracy, spinning off business units, closing plants or cutting services, all of which results in employee terminations. Unfortunately as well, remaining employees are also feeling squeezed from all sides as they delicately balance their psyche between hope and fear. But, what does all of this mean to your future career management?
Most people, most of the time, (at least on first glance), look at work situations as something that is happening outside of them personally, in other words, they react to the people and events and perceive that something is “being done to them”. Then, they feel victimized, powerless, alienated, fearful and angry because they see very few choices for themselves. But there are indeed choices, even though they may be hard to make.
I strongly believe that first of all, every individual struggling to manage the wild ride in the new world of work, must look at their career as a journey rather than a one time event and must take charge of their own career. By this I mean that you have to make a concentrated effort to thoroughly understand yourself and what this means in terms of a career.
In other words, learn to understand how your personality, communication and decision making styles impact on the type of job that is best suited to you, learn what you are really good at and what you like to do, (work and volunteer) what values and motivators are really important to you, and what role you enjoy on a team or even if you enjoy a team environment at all. This self knowledge will build a fundamental framework for your job search. And, frankly, if you don’t do this important “homework”, you will probably end up in the wrong job.
So, how can you start this personal self examination? For those of you with a bit of work history, begin by looking at how you have responded to life and work events to date. Do what is called a “lifeline assessment”. Draw a line across a sheet of paper and mark the following events:
* Events and people that have profoundly influenced your career decision, note how they influenced you;
* Write down examples of the risks you have taken, what were the payoffs?
* Identify when on your lifeline that you felt in control and out of control of your destiny
* Note events or aspects of your career which created a strong sense of pride
* Look at your current work situation to see what the satisfiers and dissatisfiers are
* Develop a list of important workplace qualities and job activities that will lead to your job satisfaction.
For those readers still in school, your lifeline can still reflect special events but also can examine the subjects that you have enjoyed and why. Once you have identified the lifeline diagram events, stop and reflect what these mean in regard to your current job satisfaction and/or your job goal. Then, compare yourself to the following wellknown employee satisfaction criteria and turnover factors. Which ones apply to you?
* Respect, appreciation and recognition for good work
* Feelings of being listened to, their ideas being heard, an ability to influence
* A sense of personal confidence and self esteem in the workplace
* A pleasant work environment free from chronic hostility, distress, harassment, anxiety and danger
* A sense of belonging within the corporate culture and workgroup
* A well defined job accompanied by appropriate training and reporting relationships
* A balanced workload with appropriate timelines, level of responsibility and work hour allocations
* Perceived fairness of outcomes, processes and personal treatment
* Opportunities for career advancement or career alternatives
* Positive interpersonal and employee/boss relationships
* Physical work environment and corporate culture
(Adapted from Health Canada publication: Best Advice on StressRisk Management in the workplace)
Once you have completed this comparison, circle the top three, key job satisfaction criteria. These job satisfiers will typically reflect your personality and communication style however, you can further confirm your style through formal assessments offered by career consultants, local colleges or your nearby employment office.
The next step in your career management is to match your knowledge, skills, abilities, personality factors and job satisfaction criteria to those factors that are important to employers of the future. In facing their challenges, Companies need workers who have:
* Flexibility in their skill sets; are capable of self-management, control and autonomy in their daily work
* A strong sense of personal vision, purpose and self esteem and understands how they can contribute to an organization
* Skills beyond simply technical skills such as good interpersonal communication, reading people and building teams
* Excellent problem solving skills with an ability to apply good old fashioned common sense
* A strong interest in continuous learning from a personal and professional perspective and
* An ability to deal with change, take risks and have an eye on the future.
While much of this advice sounds like a great deal of work, and it is, I truly believe that completing a self analysis is the most important thing you can do for your career. It will clarify what you need, what you want and where you can get it. If you don’t, believe me, you’ll never be in charge – and your career will continue being tossed about like a small paper sailboat in a big turbulent sea.
About the author
Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC is president of Legacy Bowes Group. She is also host of the weekly BowesKnows radio show and is the author of Resume Rescue and Taming the Workplace Tigers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org://www.barbarabowes.com
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