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Ca r eer Change and Pl acement S pecia li sts
What can you do for your company? What can your company do for you? Career Development in the New Millennium – a Partnership Activity
Ever since 1996 in the USA have they been announcing that the traditional work relationships between employer and employee have been broken. Both parties seem to have become troubled and for different reasons are finding it harder to stay together. Traditionally, employees sought to work for only one company. This was even more so in other Asian countries like Japan. A job for life was the promise given by the company to its employees. Now, we all realise that companies can no longer guarantee this situation. Moreover, employees don’t always want to stay with only one employer or only in one line of work. Internet start-up companies are beginning to attract considerable talent here in Singapore as they move to compete on the global stage with similar talents from India and USA. Old bonds of loyalty and security have been displaced at least for some by excitement, long hours and a heavy investment of time money and personal effort in their own venture. Taking greater risks these brave new ‘entrepreneurs’ have given up security for the excitement and challenge of making it on their own. This story is part of a growing dissatisfaction with opportunities and challenges presented by the traditional employment model. In this model we work for a company that gives us our porcelain rice bowl (no longer ‘iron’ one either). In exchange for our labor (read: knowledge, skills and attitudes; performance) our employer gives us money and other benefits. Whilst senior management and the CEO get most of the excitement, challenge and risk taking we as employees get the blood sweat and tears. This kind of relationship remains the norm for most of us. Clearly this model is limited in its exchange: companies are not getting more competitive their environment is though, and employees get security with little ownership, participation or excitement out of their job. Yes these are generalisations and like any model have application to varying degrees for you and your employer. None-the-less, many are choosing to opt out of this traditional work model for greater adventure and with prospect of greater personal and monetary rewards. For those left in the old model let’s look at what can you do to develop your career. And how can your employer help to develop the career aspirations of its workforce. Beginning with your goals and aspirations is the perfect place to start. Think about where are you going in your career. If you are like many you may not have established any goals before. Just get a good job, earn enough to put your children through a good school and a
few ECA’s and travel once a year overseas. If this sounds like you then don’t worry – there are many like this. Clarity of career goals must be seen in an overall context of other life goals. Many place family support as number one, not there own career aspirations as number one. However, research shows us that those who are the happiest people, those who are the most successful, are those who are able to align their natural talents and abilities with their job. Sounds rather easy, doesn't it? Do you honestly know yourself well enough to state your talents and abilities and show how they are linked to your job? This is where a career coach can assist you. He/she will use various research tools to explore your personality and suitability for different types of jobs. You should be aiming for a match of not less than 85% between your natural abilities and preferences and your job. If you are happy at work you will not only perform better at work, you will handle stress more effectively, and enjoy better relationships outside of work. A friend of mine is currently suffering under an oppressive boss. He is unaware that because of the mismatch between him and his work that his relationships and self-esteem are suffering. He is not fun to be with right now and doesn’t realise that this pain he is enduring not only affects his current ‘face’. Such distress will take its toll on his personality and require a recovery period that begins only after he has the courage to quit or change bosses. Clearly his performance at work is suffering and therefore the company’s return on him is lower. This is a lose-lose situation played out with unfortunate regularity in workplaces today. It is easy to point fingers at each other but speaking frankly, my friend, and for that matter every one of us, is responsible to ourselves (and our families) for our career. We cannot blame anyone else for our career development or stagnation. As responsible workers and professionals we can explore our career potential, identify career options, learn about ourselves and our natural abilities and preferences and take steps towards our own career goals. Like taking up a new training program in a different field or joining a new professional association – these are some examples of life-long career development. Life-long learning applied to career development, this is a goal and a process all employees have to get smart about. If you are looking for motivation – go and talk to someone you know who is happy in their job, truly happy, and ask them about the rewards they find in their work and life. See if that appeals to you. Companies can help employees to develop their careers. Indeed there are clear research findings that show that those who are matched in career between natural talents and abilities and their job profile are significantly more successful on the job. One insurance company in America measures the difference in success rates in the million of dollars of sales. Those who are natural sales people matched to their position return over one million dollars of sales against those who are not perfectly matched (less than 85%) bringing in sales in the thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Companies can offer career assessment tools to help employees identify their natural talents and abilities. They can move them towards careers that match this within or even outside the company. They can offer supporting training and development programs to enable employees to grow towards their ideal job. Companies can create a climate of competitive internal labor market so that a natural career progression environment is created. They can provide tools on the desktop for all of their staff that enable staff to
apply for jobs internally, on-line, and to access career development tools and programs on-line, even offer on-line mentoring and career coaching. Companies need to provide a transparent framework of for career development. Let’s discuss the main components of such a framework: 1. Job Vacancies – these should preferably be open to everyone one in the company. Nothing less than full transparency will give you the best market pool to choose from. 2. Recruitment from within – a popular policy that is best supported by full transparency of job vacancies, easy access to the application procedure and routine auditing and employee feedback to ensure that there are zero blockages of applications occurring. 3. Career Goal Setting Tools – these include personality and job suitability tools and can be made available on-line to all employees; the returns are significantly greater productivity from your employees, sir! 4. Career coaching and mentoring – many ways to offer these: in-house, off-line, use an external consultant 5. Performance Appraisal programs – mostly these are used to cover up other agendas, rarely are they used to enhance an employees performance as well as the companies performance via 360-degree feedback. Companies need to realise the intervening role that matching between personality, suitability and job performance have, performance appraisal may not be the best way to address the problems of poor performance. Other components of their career development framework may be better suited to this role. Such as the assessment tools mentioned earlier to help employees to uncover their ideal job match. 6. Compensation and Benefit packages – to reward successful outcomes on the job and show the linkages between job match, job performance and rewards earned. 7. Promotion policies – that recognise performance and reward that, not friendships and hopefully not seniority either. Merit is the basis that Singapore uses to promote; nothing else is acceptable here. 8. Planned work exposures to enhance each employee’s career potential and encourage greater returns from the employee. Train supervisors and management in career coaching, mentoring and development so that they are skilled in people development. After all, they represent your company to their employees – you train your sales staff in the company’s products. Similarly you can train your managers in the company’s programs for people development, including of course, career development. 9. Outplacement – programs for those displaced by changing technology or market shifts to facilitate their finding new jobs and moving on successfully 10. Hiring and firing practices – that make the career path transparent as well as the performance expectations and facilities available to enable the stated levels of job performance to be achieved, if not then a progressive process of disengagement with the employee so that both company and employee avoid unproductive suffering. So a good career development program is transparent, sufficiently resourced, strongly understood by everyone and leads to the right people being put into the right jobs at the
right time. It allows a career path to be developed for everyone and even provides a basis for succession planning for the company. Some companies make employees leave the company after two years to get wider experience. They are forced to develop their careers themselves in this drastic way. Such companies realise that stagnation of careers is unhealthy for the company as well the person. Companies like this are clearly demonstrating their commitment to people development as a major platform of their management style. Like the Singapore Productivity and Standards Board People Developer program, having a career development program for all employees is evidence of commitment to people development. A final word. Career development means change. Change that should bring growth, better returns personally and financially to you. You don’t have to make the change on your own. Your company, professional career coaches and mentors are there for you to access. Even friends who are happy in their job, genuinely happy, can be consulted for advice. Establish a plan, set some goals and build a support network to deliver you to the rewards that you are looking for, then you will have put yourself on the right path to reach your ideal career. John M. Read Certified International Job & Career Transition Coach Managing Consultant What Career Next! Registered in Singapore firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: 354 3551
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