What are you doing to engage fully in your own career development?
Vincent Milich, in a Hay Group blog post called Develop careers and develop your business, stated:
“People always say that career development is essential to how happy they are in their job – and its absence a big reason for leaving. In fact, our research shows people think it’s the most important thing a company can offer its employees. And yet our research also shows that only about half of employees give their companies favorable ratings on career and development issues.”
His post outlines significant implications for organizations but Milich’s post triggered a different question in my mind: What rating would people would give themselves on their own career engagement?
We need to be active agents in our own career development and more expansive in our career thoughts and actions. When I worked in career counselling at the University of Manitoba in the late 1980’s I was influenced by Wolfe and Kolb’s (1980) career development definition:
”Career development involves one’s whole life, not just occupation. As such, it concerns the whole person, needs and wants, capacities and potentials, excitement and anxieties, insights and blind spots, warts and all. More than that, it concerns him/her in the ever-changing contexts of his/her life.”
8 tips for engaged career development
Here are eight tips on how you can bolster your career and demonstrate engaged career development.
1. Stop believing
that a career is the same as a job. As the definition by Wolfe and Kolb stated career is bigger than job. Ensure you have peripheral vision for your
life and career development. Development
is not always vertical; it can be horizontal or even circular. Don’t be afraid
at times to feel that you are going around in circles.
2. Abandon work/life balance and engage in life-work infusion. As opposed to an impossible search for work/life balance, put life first and ensure that your life infuses your work with energy, meaning, and purpose; while your work infuses your life with connection, contribution, and engagement.
3. Know that your career is a real life game of snakes and ladders. There will be progress and setbacks and some of it will be random, like the roll of dice. Celebrate and enjoy progress while not getting derailed by setbacks. When you have a setback learn to hit your personal reset button and demonstrate resilience by taking another roll or role.
4. Careers involve change and transition. Know that for something new to begin something will have to end. Start focusing on the double endings in career --- what you want to achieve and what you will need to end to get there.
5. Read Peter Drucker’s 2005 Harvard Business Review classic on Managing Oneself. In fact, read it once every year and generate fresh responses to his questions: What are my strengths? How do I work? What are my values? Where do I belong? What can I contribute?
6. Master the art of improvisation. Careers cannot be fully controlled and we must be ready for what comes next. Make Patricia Ryan Madson’s Improv Wisdom one of your foundation career engagement textbooks. This is not so much about getting on the stage with a bunch of actors and trying to be funny. She offers wisdom from improvisation that can be vital in improvising the life and career that matters to you. Know that you may never know what you are going to be when you grow up, acknowledge that you already “are” and that what you do does not have to singularly define you.
7. Stop trying to feel good or have high self-esteem. Rather have the grit and gumption to do what is necessary to complete a job. You can love your work and career but this is not a mushy warm feeling like a full diaper, it is the discipline, concentration, and patience outlined by Erich Fromm in the Art of Love. I believe self-efficacy (the ability to do what is necessary to produce an outcome) trumps self-esteem and frequently the way to feel good is a by-product of “doing good.”
8. There are an infinite number of career paths. At times this can be paralyzing but it can also be liberating. Just take a step and remember it is never too late to change paths or to begin again. You can even walk down the career path backwards as I have done in how to work in reverse and retire before you work.
Check out the rest of the Engagement Everywhere series!
I wish you all the best with your career. Don’t leave it in the hands of a company or an organization. Also, don’t worry too much about the warts and even though I just turned 60, I encourage you to engage along with me - for the best is yet to be.
This post is part of the twelve part Engagement Everywhere series. My next post will be on social and relationship engagement.