Archive for category Career success

Fail

Fail Road by fireflythegreat

Hmmm… I’ve been down this road before.

The title of this article has a dual significance. First, it’s an acknowledgement of my failure to keep this blog up to date. My new role means that I have less time and less headspace for the reflection needed to write this stuff.

A lot of my learning at the moment is around how to be a good manager (or possibly how to be less of a bad one).

Currently, my learning is following it’s usual pattern. I’m learning through doing, reading and trying to teach others. At some point the trying to teach others bit will probably extend to writing more about my learning, but at the moment it is mainly limited to the various bits leadership development training I’m delivering.

One of those bits of leadership development training was the CMI Level 5 module I taught recently on managing ideas and innovation and in my usual domain-hopping way I have started to think about how the theories and models applied here could be useful in career development work with clients and in the development of careers professionals.

It’s not just businesses and entrepreneurs who have to be innovative. In the current economic climate, individuals have to be increasingly innovative with their own career development and job hunting. Similarly, as career professionals, we have to develop more innovative approaches to address the demands of our individual and institutional clients.

And this is where the second significance of the title comes in. Wherever there is a need to innovate, there is an accompanying need to be able to deal with the possibility of failure. In career terms, this is often linked with the idea of resilience. But there is more to dealing with failure than just the ability to bounce back and stay optimistic.

Failure is an integral and unavoidable part of any truly innovative process (unless you are incredibly lucky!). Preparing for innovation requires you to anticipate failure, accommodate failure, plan to recover from failure and learn from failure.

In a recent coaching session with a client, we were discussing options for embarking on a freelance career. The issue of possible failure came up and I struggled to find a way to help her think about failure constructively. Then I remembered a concept I had introduced in the CMI module: 4F – Fail Fast, Fail Forward. She immediately got it and responded enthusiastically. This isn’t so surprising (despite the name) because it actually reflects a growth or incremental mindset and an approach rather than avoidance motivation.

Fail fast – be ready for things to go wrong, know what early indicators of potential failure to look out for and be ready to act quickly.

Fail forward – don’t spend time on recriminations and wishful thinking, focus on solutions and focus on learning lessons so that your next attempts have a greater chance of success.

 

Monmouthshire County Council's Fail Fast, Fail Forward initiative

Fail fast. Fail forward

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Interview confidence

Man on Wire by image munkey (Alan)

Getting the balance right can be tricky

A couple of months back someone asked a very interesting question on Careers Debate about how one expresses and demonstrates confidence in one’s area of expertise at an interview whilst avoiding self-aggrandisement.

Is it just a question of body language and non-verbal communication, or are there other clues that you can give in the way that you talk abut your experiences?

I gave a couple of quick responses at the time, but I thought it would be interesting to add a little more flesh to the bones here.

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Four pathways to meaning

another year over... by piotr (peter) chlipalski

I have no idea what it means but I like it.

Regular readers of this blog will know that a recurring theme is the notion of meaning in our working lives. I’m also a big fan of simple models and frameworks to help structure and analyse complex ideas. So, I was excited to discover an article which not only conducted an extensive review of the literature of meaning in work, but which presented a simple way of categorising the various ways in which people find meaning.

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What’s your strategy?

Chess by wintersixfour

My strategy is to distract you with my fingernails while I move this horsey thing...

At the end of last year I taught a Chartered Management Institute Level 3 Leadership and Management course. It was great fun as it allowed me to play with various leadership and management theories and apply them to practical situations.

During the course, we touched on strategic planning and I came across an interesting model/theory about different approaches to strategy used by organisations. It occurred to me that this could be applicable to individuals thinking about their own career development strategy.

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Bolster the jockey – being rational in a hard world

I would like to thank Karen DeCoster (@notchuraverage1), a career and technical education specialist at Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, for contributing this post — David
Christmas Photo by theirhistory

This jockey may not require bolstering

Several months ago, a series of discussions on the LinkedIn Group Careers Debate caused me to re-examine my counselling beliefs and methods, particularly as they apply to helping individuals  struggling with career indecision.  For the most part, I use a direct and sometimes confrontational approach in assisting individuals such as the panicked college junior who can’t seem to settle on a major,  the millennial who describes being miserably “stuck” in a job that she hates or the chronically unemployed 50 something professional who is resistant to change.  While no single methodology can guarantee success in counselling indecisive individuals there is one that seems to fit well with my direct approach.

In graduate school, one of my first classes was a course in which we examined various theories and procedures used in counselling.   Two theories particularly resonated with me:  Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) and William Glasser’s Reality Therapy (now called Choice Theory) in that order.  Over the years, there were a few others but as the saying goes, you never forget your first.

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New year, new identity?

hermself watching hermself being hermself by madamepsychosis

Spot the difference?

It’s a new year — the end of one chapter and the beginning of another — a time to change.

The more dramatic the change, the more likely it is to lead to a transformation of your identity. Some changes involve integrating into new environments, building new relationships and developing new behaviours. You may have to leave behind some of the things that currently help you to define yourself and incorporate new things. This can be especially true if, like many of my recent clients, the change is something that has been forced upon you and is quite dramatic — such as redundancy.

Such a change may bring about a transformation of identity. A lot of clients undergoing this kind of process struggle with how to describe themselves. ‘I used to be a… What am I now?’

What makes for a successful identity transformation — whether it is voluntary or imposed upon you?

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Effectuation – Can you know the future?

I would like to thank John King, a former Careers Adviser who now runs Engentia, an ‘enterprise and engagement’ consultancy, for contributing this post — David
Disarmed the thunder's fires - by ZedZap

What if you can't see what's ahead?

Is it possible to know the future? Most people would say not. Yet many careers theories and theories about entrepreneurial behaviour inadvertently assume that it is possible.

In 1921 Frank Knight, who once taught the Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, wrote a seminal book called Risk, Uncertainty and Profit. Knight explained that there was a difference between risk (where the probability of success is known) and uncertainty (where the probability of success is unknown). More recently the economist Saras Sarasvathy, in her book Effectuation, pointed out that Knight had actually written about a third category – only no-one had noticed. This overlooked third category described a future that is not only unknown, but is unknowable, even in principle.

This observation, that there is an important difference between a future that is difficult to predict and a future that is impossible to predict, could lead to profound changes in our understanding of career choice.

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What we should be teaching in interview training

Every now and again during interview coaching, I will stop and ask the client, “What do you think I’m looking for with that question?”. Having read an article by some organisational psychologists at the University of Zurich (Kleinmann et al., 2011), I’m going to ask that question a lot more.

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What is our output?

Audio by Sergiu Bacioiu

So, do your dials go up to 11?

I’ve been having some very interesting conversations lately on LinkedIn groups.

In one discussion, a Canadian career service manager described how his team had been increasingly using the term ‘career literacy’ to describe what they were trying to develop in their students. He asked what we thought of the term.

Part of me really likes the idea of literacy as a set of skills that enables you to interact with information. According to the UNESCO definition, literacy involves “a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society“. That fits rather well with the aims of a careers service.

My reservation with the term is that, in a university setting, literacy could be interpreted as rather a basic level of learning. By the time students have reached university, they should have gone beyond literacy and be operating in the realm of analysis and critical thinking. Would it have face value with the academic community?

So, what other terms could we use and what would they imply? Can we come up with something which appeals to those who are looking at immediate solutions as well as giving a strong message about developing an ability to deal with issues over the entire course of your career?

This kicked the random word generator in my brain into overdrive and I tried to come up with a range of phrases to describe what we are trying to nurture in our clients.
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Positive Aspirations

I would like to thank Vinny Potter from Queen Mary, University of London for contributing this post — David
Spire by Gerry Balding

A spire... (I'll get my coat)

I work in two distinct careers settings. One is with high-achieving students at the University of London and the other is with clients who often have few qualifications (if any) at a small job club where I volunteer in the evenings.

At the job club we try hard to engage with NEETs (those Not in Education, Employment or Training). We have limited success. The biggest issue I have found with this group is not their low economic status nor lack of decent qualifications, but a major lack of aspiration.

There have been quite a few studies into the link between achievement and aspiration. One of the latest has come from researchers at Queen Mary University of London (Rothon et al., 2011) and it demonstrates a clear association between aspiration and achievement.

educational aspirations had a strong association with actual achievement, remaining associated even after controlling for a number of other variables, including prior achievement

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