Tag Archives: development

Act before you think: In coaching and careers

“Nothing will be achieved if first all objections must be overcome” said the wise Eleanor Roosevelt.   Objections prevent action.  Objections to our own actions are ultimately authored by ourselves.  Others may advise caution or object, but it takes us to take on board and own those objections to prevent us from acting.  It is our thoughts prior to action that can ultimately present a formidable barrier to action.

Thinking before you act is what we’ve been all brought up to do.  We are taught to think a failure to think first must ultimately result in reckless disregard for our own or others’ well-being. The trouble is,  thinking before you act is not a fail safe process, because it is impossible to think through all the possible outcomes of a proposed action.

We cannot work out all the possibilities in advance, not only because there are too many, but also because our current vantage point may not reveal the complete picture.  I live near the coast, and if I am standing on one beach I cannot see the other one around the headland.  Even if I stand on that headland, where I can see both beaches, I cannot see around the next headland and what may be on offer there.  In other words, I might be missing out on a fantastic beach and I’ll never discover it unless I am prepared to act.

For people stuck in their careers, there is every likelihood that their heads are full of confusion, cautionary thoughts and frustration.   Clarifying their thoughts as a lot of coaching and counseling aims to do, may be doing no more than giving them a sharper picture of the beach they are on.   They will never fully appreciate the other great beaches until they are prepared to act and move to a new vantage point. Act before you think!

I am more and more convinced that we’ve got our priorities wrong by so strongly privileging thinking before you act in career coaching. I become even more convinced when I hear the countless stories from clients who “fell into” satisfying careers, or got there by being in the right place at the right time. These people (and I think they are the majority) got where they are as much by acting before you think, than thinking before you act.

So in your own coaching practice, take action, and resolve to encourage your clients to action first, and then collectively reflect after.  Encourage lots of small steps and little experiments, encourage turning up to things, encourage connection with others without any clear agenda, encourage random acts of contribution to others, encourage your clients to go forth.

 

Jim Bright’s Career Coaching Course in Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane & Melbourne 2011

I’m running my 3-day career counselling, coaching & assessment course in March in Sydney, Perth, Adelaide & Melbourne and Brisbane.  You can register or get more details here: http://bit.ly/eYmzWk

2011

JULY

19 – 21 CAREER COUNSELLING, COACHING AND ASSESSMENT COURSE, ADELAIDE

AUGUST – SEPTEMBER

30TH AUG – 1ST SEPT CAREER COUNSELLING, COACHING AND ASSESSMENT COURSE, PERTH

14TH – 16TH CAREER COUNSELLING, COACHING AND ASSESSMENT COURSE, SYDNEY

OCTOBER

12TH – 14TH CAREER COUNSELLING, COACHING AND ASSESSMENT COURSE, BRISBANE

26TH – 28TH CAREER COUNSELLING, COACHING AND ASSESSMENT COURSE, MELBOURNE

DOWNLOAD 3-DAY COURSE FLYER

 

Highlights:

  • Highly practical – learn how to use 2 valid career tests and receive all materials to use them
  • Entertaining – delivered in a light hearted and amusing style
  • Leading edge – learn about the latest thinking in the field
  • Evidence-based learn stuff that works and has been tested and reviewed
  • Leads to CICA endorsed PG Cert in Career Development for those wanting formal credentials
  • Approved PD hours for Australian Psychological Society either Generalist (18hrs) or Specialist for Colleges of Organisational, Counselling and Educational/Developmental.

More details click on this link http://bit.ly/eYmzWk

Register soon to reserve a place.  Contact Jim for further details.

Redekopp’s take on Gellatt’s Positive Uncertainty

I like Dave’s additional paradoxes they make sense and are consistent with the Chaos theory of Careers (Pryor & Bright, 2003, 2007, 2011)
Jim

Amplify’d from www.life-role.com


 

The Changing Face of
Career Development

Return to Ideas

Dave Redekopp, Life-Role Development
Group

for the MLA Invitational Forum on
Business Involvement in Education

January 19, 1996

Summary
Notes

Rapid and continuous social, economic
and political change have caused career development practitioners to
re-think their traditional concepts and practices. In a world in
which work opportunities can no longer be clearly defined as
occupational roles, career development activities no longer need to
revolve around the processes of choosing an occupation and following
plans to reach the occupation. Career building now needs to be viewed
as process of managing one’s own development, learning and life/work
decisions and actions.

H.B. Gelatt, a prominent career
development decision-making theorist, developed four paradoxical
principles in an attempt to look at career development in a new way.
I have added six more paradoxical principles, principles that I hope
have direct impact on the issues being faced by this Invitational
Forum.

Ten Paradoxical
Principles

(Note: The first four principles were
developed by H.B. Gelatt).

1. Be focused and
flexible
. Gelatt spent much of his working life developing
decision-making models based on reason, rationality and logic. In
1989, Gelatt’s work took a different direction. He recognized the
importance of breaking plans as well as making them, changing
goals as well as setting them, being flexible as well as focused.
In a world of constant change, Gelatt argued that both focus and
flexibility are essential elements of the modern career
planner.

  • 2. Be aware and wary. Most
    decision-making models emphasize the careful collect of vast
    quantities of information prior to making a decision. Gelatt
    agreed that information is useful, but he recognized that
    information is never as factual, certain or precise as it may
    seem. In fact, too much information can simply distract one from
    important issues. Gelatt therefore cautioned that awareness of
    information is important, but we should always be wary of the
    usefulness and truth-value of the information we have.

    3. Be objective and
    optimistic
    . Once information is gathered and projections for
    future success are being made, Gelatt implored us to be objective
    and optimistic. By this he means that we should look at the future
    as clearly and reasonably as we can. Then having made a decision
    to pursue a certain course, we need to be optimistic about our
    chances of success. Optimism provides the energy and drive needed
    to succeed.

    4. Be practical and magical.
    Pursuing a decision requires practicality, common-sense and
    reason. However, the old “set the goal, reach the goal” mentality
    may be less useful in this era of change than an approach that
    uses creativity, imagination and chance to create opportunity as
    well as to seek it. Lock-step action plans remain useful, but they
    need to be supplemented by more creative, whimsical methods that
    create or find unexpected possibilities.

    5. Be independent and
    collaborative
    . A paradox that applies particularly to the aims
    of education is the need for individuals to be both autonomous,
    self-reliant decision-makers/actors and community-oriented,
    team-playing, social citizens. Both characteristics are heavily
    emphasized in today’s world of work: the independence to make
    immediate decisions combined with an increasing use of
    collaborative teams.

    6. Be general and
    specialized
    . The current work dynamic is characterized by
    rapid changes leading to more frequent work/job changes by
    workers. To be able to adapt to this change, workers need to have
    a general knowledge, skill and attitude base that allows them to
    move from one role to another. On the other hand, in a world of
    extreme technological sophistication, workers are finding that
    they need to become increasingly specialized.

    7. Be a follower and a
    leader
    . The world of work is no longer the clearly defined
    world of the supply and demand labour market. Now, supply and
    demand can trade places overnight; joint-ventures rule the day;
    employer-employee relationships are changing to
    contractor/sub-contractor relationships. These shifts mean that
    all workers are more likely to be both followers and leaders than
    in the past. The move to team-based management further accentuates
    this need as team members continuously make decisions about when
    to lead and when to follow.

    8. Be quality-oriented and
    risk-oriented
    . A pressing paradox for organizations within a
    global economy is simultaneously being the best at what they do
    and always attempting to do things in new and better ways.
    Workers, too, need to come to grips with exceling at what they do
    while taking risks trying new things. Similarly, students in
    schools need to be encouraged to get good grades while taking
    risks in performance.

    9. Be loyal and tentative.
    Organizations are no longer providing jobs for life. The “company
    man” is also disappearing. Yet loyalty, in the form of dedication
    and commitment, remains essential as a two-way employer-worker
    street. Workers and employers need to be fully committed to each
    other within a project, contract or task. However, they both need
    to fully recognize that the relationship is almost certain to be
    time-specific and therefore, both need to approach the
    relationship as a tentative one.

    10. Be confident and unsure.
    A changing work dynamic results in a need for continuous learning.
    Continuously learning means continuously being unsure of whether
    or not one is fully competent. Being unsure, however, of one’s
    competence, needs to be balanced with confidence in one’s
    abilities. A lack of confidence is usually followed by minimal
    risk-taking, poor performance and a loss of energy due to worry
    and anxiety. Confidence is needed to be productive and to move
    forward; being unsure is needed to ensure that one constantly
    learns.

  • These paradoxes highlight the
    difficulties of fully integrating career development into school
    systems. An overemphasis on one component of any of these paradoxes
    will lead to complaints from the stakeholders (i.e., parents,
    students, employers, educators, public) who hold the opposite
    component dear. It will also leave students unprepared for a changing
    work dynamic. Teaching both sides of each paradox in a balanced way
    is a tightrope walk that we should not expect educators to achieve
    without effort, practice and a safety net of public and business
    support.

     

     


    Rapid and continuous social, economic
    and political change have caused career development practitioners to
    re-think their traditional concepts and practices. In a world in
    which work opportunities can no longer be clearly defined as
    occupational roles, career development activities no longer need to
    revolve around the processes of choosing an occupation and following
    plans to reach the occupation. Career building now needs to be viewed
    as process of managing one’s own development, learning and life/work
    decisions and actions.

    H.B. Gelatt, a prominent career
    development decision-making theorist, developed four paradoxical
    principles in an attempt to look at career development in a new way.
    I have added six more paradoxical principles, principles that I

    January 19, 1996

    Summary
    Notes

    The Changing Face of
    Career Development

    Return to Ideas

    Dave Redekopp, Life-Role Development
    Group

    for the MLA Invitational Forum on
    Business Involvement in Education

    hope
    have direct impact on the issues being faced by this Invitational
    Forum.

    Ten Paradoxical
    Principles

    (Note: The first four principles were
    developed by H.B. Gelatt).

    1. Be focused and
    flexible
    . Gelatt spent much of his working life developing
    decision-making models based on reason, rationality and logic. In
    1989, Gelatt’s work took a different direction. He recognized the
    importance of breaking plans as well as making them, changing
    goals as well as setting them, being flexible as well as focused.
    In a world of constant change, Gelatt argued that both focus and
    flexibility are essential elements of the modern career
    planner.

  • 2. Be aware and wary. Most
    decision-making models emphasize the careful collect of vast
    quantities of information prior to making a decision. Gelatt
    agreed that information is useful, but he recognized that
    information is never as factual, certain or precise as it may
    seem. In fact, too much information can simply distract one from
    important issues. Gelatt therefore cautioned that awareness of
    information is important, but we should always be wary of the
    usefulness and truth-value of the information we have.

    3. Be objective and
    optimistic
    . Once information is gathered and projections for
    future success are being made, Gelatt implored us to be objective
    and optimistic. By this he means that we should look at the future
    as clearly and reasonably as we can. Then having made a decision
    to pursue a certain course, we need to be optimistic about our
    chances of success. Optimism provides the energy and drive needed
    to succeed.

    4. Be practical and magical.
    Pursuing a decision requires practicality, common-sense and
    reason. However, the old “set the goal, reach the goal” mentality
    may be less useful in this era of change than an approach that
    uses creativity, imagination and chance to create opportunity as
    well as to seek it. Lock-step action plans remain useful, but they
    need to be supplemented by more creative, whimsical methods that
    create or find unexpected possibilities.

    5. Be independent and
    collaborative
    . A paradox that applies particularly to the aims
    of education is the need for individuals to be both autonomous,
    self-reliant decision-makers/actors and community-oriented,
    team-playing, social citizens. Both characteristics are heavily
    emphasized in today’s world of work: the independence to make
    immediate decisions combined with an increasing use of
    collaborative teams.

    6. Be general and
    specialized
    . The current work dynamic is characterized by
    rapid changes leading to more frequent work/job changes by
    workers. To be able to adapt to this change, workers need to have
    a general knowledge, skill and attitude base that allows them to
    move from one role to another. On the other hand, in a world of
    extreme technological sophistication, workers are finding that
    they need to become increasingly specialized.

    7. Be a follower and a
    leader
    . The world of work is no longer the clearly defined
    world of the supply and demand labour market. Now, supply and
    demand can trade places overnight; joint-ventures rule the day;
    employer-employee relationships are changing to
    contractor/sub-contractor relationships. These shifts mean that
    all workers are more likely to be both followers and leaders than
    in the past. The move to team-based management further accentuates
    this need as team members continuously make decisions about when
    to lead and when to follow.

    8. Be quality-oriented and
    risk-oriented
    . A pressing paradox for organizations within a
    global economy is simultaneously being the best at what they do
    and always attempting to do things in new and better ways.
    Workers, too, need to come to grips with exceling at what they do
    while taking risks trying new things. Similarly, students in
    schools need to be encouraged to get good grades while taking
    risks in performance.

    9. Be loyal and tentative.
    Organizations are no longer providing jobs for life. The “company
    man” is also disappearing. Yet loyalty, in the form of dedication
    and commitment, remains essential as a two-way employer-worker
    street. Workers and employers need to be fully committed to each
    other within a project, contract or task. However, they both need
    to fully recognize that the relationship is almost certain to be
    time-specific and therefore, both need to approach the
    relationship as a tentative one.

    10. Be confident and unsure.
    A changing work dynamic results in a need for continuous learning.
    Continuously learning means continuously being unsure of whether
    or not one is fully competent. Being unsure, however, of one’s
    competence, needs to be balanced with confidence in one’s
    abilities. A lack of confidence is usually followed by minimal
    risk-taking, poor performance and a loss of energy due to worry
    and anxiety. Confidence is needed to be productive and to move
    forward; being unsure is needed to ensure that one constantly
    learns.

  • These paradoxes highlight the
    difficulties of fully integrating career development into school
    systems. An overemphasis on one component of any of these paradoxes
    will lead to complaints from the stakeholders (i.e., parents,
    students, employers, educators, public) who hold the opposite
    component dear. It will also leave students unprepared for a changing
    work dynamic. Teaching both sides of each paradox in a balanced way
    is a tightrope walk that we should not expect educators to achieve
    without effort, practice and a safety net of public and business
    support.

     

     

    Read more at www.life-role.com

     

    Design your own job

    What is a job and who determines what you do in a job? For John Paul Getty, if you haven’t got a problem, you haven’t got a job. At the most general level, for an employer a job exists if they have a problem that needs addressing. So if they haven’t got enough time, knowledge or skills to get the work done themselves, they clearly have a job vacancy for some lucky soul.
    There is some truth in this maxim because it would be odd (but not unheard of) to employ people when there is nothing to be done. So if we follow the approach of identifying a problem the next logical step is to specify that problem in as much detail as is required to generate a position description for the role. Generally this will include a consideration of the tasks and reporting relationships associated with the role that we are beginning to describe. This process can be as simple as saying get me another one like “Pablo”, or it could get very involved indeed. We could set up a committee to design the job, or we could interview or observe other employees doing similar things to work out the core responsibilities and reporting relationships. Once we have an idea of the duties we can specify the qualifications, experience and perhaps personal qualities that we feel are necessary to do the role well. Then we advertise the role and wait for the hungry hordes of job seekers to come a-knockin’ at our door.
    It all sounds so reasonable and logical, but it is questionable whether such a traditional approach to job analysis and job design is so effective in the current market. Debbie Loveridge CEO of recruiters Vedior Asia Pacific says “Even if organisations haven’t previously embraced adaptable working conditions, they will quickly realise the need to do so in order to meet the demands of their current and future workforce”. What the recruiters are saying is that the balance is shifting from designing jobs to meet problems, to instead designing jobs around employees. Employees have so much market power in the current talent war, that they have stopped trying to tailor themselves to the jobs on offer, and it is now the employers who are obliged to tailor their roles to the employee.
    This revolution in job design has a range of benefits. Companies have always had an eye on staff turnover because turnover, especially in complex and skilled roles is inefficient. Productivity is lost while the role remains empty, and continues to be lost until the new incumbent is fully up to speed in the role. The less obvious productivity loss that Organisational Psychologists have known for years relates to the degree of engagement that the individual feels with their role and their employer more generally. What better way to increase employee engagement than by designing work around the skills, and abilities of your staff?
    Such an approach naturally embraces diversity, and makes each individual feel special and recognised within the organisation, in the same way that the person in the tailored suit feels more comfortable than the less fortunate person squeezing into off-the-peg attire.

    The traditional objection to designing jobs around people is that it effectively hands the employee a gun along with instructions to hold it to the head of the employer during salary negotiations. Even worse than being forced to pay top dollar, there is the risk of chaos if the pivotal employee moves on.

    While these arguments may have held sway when skilled employees were plentiful, those times have passed, and the risks of structuring jobs around key people are outweighed by the benefits it brings to the organisation. So if you are on the look out for a new role, don’t put all your energies into squeezing yourself into a badly fitting job, have the confidence to work out the type of role you’d like and be good at, and offer it to your employer. You never know, you might just transform not only your own career, but the fortunes of your employer as well.

    Managing your job with a terminal or chronic illness

    (Dedicated to the memory of my Aunt Sylvia Cox)

    Steve Jobs’ of Apple sad passing highlights the dilemma faced by employees diagnosed with terminal or chronic illness of how many details of their condition they share with their employer and colleagues.
    There are two ways of looking at this situation, the formal or legal one, and the career development approach. I have no legal training and so what I can say about this from a formal perspective is limited and readers are strongly advised to take advice from appropriately qualified independent legal advisors. If you are a member of a union, they should be able to assist.

    The first point to make is that you have a duty to notify promptly your employer of your illness or incapacity and of the estimated duration of the absence as a condition of any sick leave you are going to take. Employers have a right to demand an explanation for unexplained absences from work, indeed I am told by lawyers that it could be argued that under Occupational Health and Safety laws employers who do not inquire into absences may be abdicating their duty of care to their employees. Consequently you should expect management to request information about any absences.

    sunset

    Ok, so much for the formalities, how in practice can you maximize the chances of keeping your job while at the same time dealing with the emotional shock and upheavals that accompany a diagnosis of a chronic or terminal condition?
    The first point hardly needs making it is so obvious, but you are likely to be in a highly emotionally charged state around the time of medical investigations and diagnosis. When under such stress, we do not make the best decisions, and understandably our focus is on ourselves, our well-being and our loved ones. The employer generally ranks very low
    in our priority list, however the remuneration they provide may well rank as important. Consequently you need to give yourself the best chance possible of communicating clearly with your employer. Try writing out or talking out with a sensible friend, what you want to tell your employer. This will help you collect your thoughts and communicate
    more coherently when the time comes. Take a little time to gather your thoughts about work and to decide on your strategy.

    Do not be tempted to quit in an emotional state. Think through your actions. If you are going to require the financial support of a regular income during the course of your illness, the stresses of continuing to work need to be balanced against the stresses of being unemployed and being financially insecure. Even if you do not need to work
    for the money, think very carefully about the sense of social support, recognition and social contribution that can accompany work. Do not throw away such things lightly.

    Despite your personal circumstances, the reality is that work goes on for your employer, and they have a responsibility to their other employees, customers and shareholders. Consequently, you might want to consider framing your discussions with your employer in terms of how you are going to continue to meet performance expectations. Do not be tempted to personalise the situation or become resentful if the employer seems to be coldly indifferent to your circumstances. If your goal is to continue to make a professional contribution, then you need to behave professionally. You are likely to be treated a whole lot better if you maintain a dignified and supportive approach to your colleagues and boss, than if you simply “trade” on your illness.

    Openness in communication with your manager is an essential for most people at work. Understand the nature and course of your diagnosis and ask your medical advisors about how your illness and treatment is likely to affect your performance at work. Test yourself so that you are fully confident you know as much about the impact of your illness as possible and remember there are no stupid questions if you do not know ask your doctor and ask again for clarification it is part of their job. When you fully understand the nature of your illness, plan out how you see this translating into your work situation. How long realistically will you be able to continue with your duties? What modifications to your duties or workplace will be required, when and for how long? What are the realistic best and worst case scenarios relating to
    work? Once you have set out these parameters you are in a good position to have a meeting with your manager, where you can set out all of this information for them.

    If your condition is one that is not likely to impact upon your work or your work colleagues, or not for a long time, then your condition is not a work-related issue at this stage and there is no obvious reason to inform your managers about it. However if your condition is going to impact upon your work, or is going to be plainly obvious to your managers and colleagues you should not delay in discussing the matter with your boss.

    You need to decide on a preferred “communications policy”. In other words, you need to decide who you want to share
    your diagnosis with. Some people will prefer to limit knowledge of their condition to a manager and no one else, whereas others will want the information disseminated more broadly. You need to discuss this with your manager and make it very clear what your preference is. Remember your manager may well have an obligation to report your case
    to their superiors and so on.

    Even if you have close friends in the workplace, your boss should still be the first (or a very close second) work colleague you inform. The last thing you want are rumours starting and your boss hearing second- hand. Your goal is to get your boss on-side as a supporter. Schedule a meeting at a quiet time, such as the end of the day or early morning when there is less chance of interruptions. Indicate that you want to discuss something of importance, and that you will need at least 30 mins to an hour. Indicate that you need to see them reasonably urgently. After the meeting, follow up with an email, or a note (keep copies of either), politely thanking them for their time and setting out briefly your understanding of what was discussed and what was agreed.

    My golden rule of all communications is to get it in writing. Keep a dated written record of all meetings, and communications with people at work. Write up notes as soon as possible after face-to-face meetings or even
    corridor conversations, and date them. Keep the records up to date and limit your entry to the facts of what occurred do not include any defamatory opinions or reflections. If someone reduced you to tears, say so, but do not write down a lot of personal attacks about the other person. Why go to all this trouble? Simply to cover yourself in the
    event that the employer becomes unreasonable or reneges on an agreement.

    If you fear that being open with your boss is likely to result in your sacking, it is likely that your boss would also sack you for any regular or long absences for treatment, so unless the impact of your illness is not going to impact on your work, you have little to lose in informing your boss (and lots to gain, because you are actually helping your boss to manage you better).

    Finally, I have known cases where the most irritating, anti-establishment employees who were convinced their boss hated their guts, found after diagnosis of a terminal illness that the boss became their greatest supporter. Most people (and that includes most bosses!) are compassionate, reasonable people, but like most people, they can be cold-hearted or unreasonable if approached in the wrong way. Be honest, be proud and be positive. Nobody and no employer could ask for more.

    By Dr Jim Bright, Partner Bright and Associates Career Solutions
    this article originally appeared in the Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant Association Newsletter