Posts Tagged guidance

Telling tales

I would like to thank Lorna Dargan from Newcastle University for contributing this guest posting. — David.

Whats the story behind this match?

Now that it’s April and work has tipped in favour of “thinking” on the doing/thinking axis, I thought I would get back to my interest in words.

I’ve been reading Reid and West’s (2011) article on narrative in career guidance, and their argument that narrative is underused as a guidance tool.

The short version of this blog post is: I disagree. Isn’t career decision-making simply the hunt for a theme in the complex narrative of the client’s life?

Now for the long version.

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Keep it simple.

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

What could be simpler?

This is a response to Katie Dallison’s post about metatheories. As has been said before in this blog, Metatheories can be very useful in careers advice, but generally only after the session. For me, that is all very well and good, but sometimes it’s nice to have a theory to hold onto during the session.

Unfortunately for me, a lot of theories are quite cerebral. They encompass a lot of abstract ideas and they can therefore be more difficult for me to remember.

Most people can only hold a few things in their head at any time. During Guidance you already have a lot to do. You need to listen intently to the client, analyse what they are saying, what they are not saying and their body language etc, then conjure up a response based on your interpretations of all of this, whilst sometimes reaching into your brain for other nuggets of pertinent information which could help the client.

This leaves little room for holding complex theories (particularly a metatheory!).

So I have come up with a new and simpler career theory.

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The East and West of Careers Guidance

I was recently in Bangalore undertaking a graduate employability research visit. The highlight of my trip was a meeting with colleagues from The Promise Foundation – a not-for-profit organisation involved in some ground breaking careers work in India. The ‘Promise’ team is made up of behavioural scientists who examine theory to develop careers interventions that are relevant to the Indian context. We spent time learning about the Jiva project and observed elements of the programme being applied in a local school.

I had a fascinating discussion with Sachin Kumar a fellow ‘Theories Geek’ and the Jiva Programme’s Project Manager about the concept of a career in the Indian context. I understood from Sachin that a major difference between the east and west in regards to career decision making is the notion of individualism and collectivism. In the west career planning focuses on the individual, his or her interests, skills and aptitudes; this coupled with the mobility across occupations gives the individual a sense of freedom with their career decision making. Where as in India, family and the wider society are very much intrinsic to the individuals career beliefs, aspirations and decisions. For example, divergence from family and parental directions could be taken as disobedience. A further layer of complexity within India was its caste system where the work one was expected to perform was based on the caste you were born into. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why am I here? (Part Two)

The Thinker

Still thinking about this…

In Part One I outlined four triggers that have started me thinking about the purpose of guidance. In this post I want to share some of those thoughts. They are not complete thoughts by any means and are mostly in the form of questions.

How green is my guidance?

When Bill Law started making comments on Twitter that an awareness of climate change should be a key component of career guidance, I had an uncomfortable reaction. ‘How is this my job?’ I thought, ‘Surely, we should be responding to the client’s priorities rather than forcing them to think about global/societal issues if they don’t want to.’

I suspect a lot of careers advisers would respond the same way. Many of us have been brought up with a client-centred, non-directive approach (dare I say indoctrinated?). We have a voice in our heads which says, ‘We are not here to influence the client. The client knows best what they want. We are merely facilitators.‘ But is that entirely true? Has it ever been true?

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(Not-so) model behaviour

Push to success

Is coaching/guidance always such a positive experience?

In an early post I suggested that the popularity of coaching might be attributable to the fact that coaching models all seem to have positive, sexy-sounding acronyms.

I have just come across another model with a cringingly appropriate name. Based on the popular GROW model, Saul Brown and Anthony Grant from Australia have come up with a coaching model for working with teams called…GROUP.

Brown, S. W.  & Grant, A.M. (2010) From GROW to GROUP: theoretical issues and a practical model for group coaching in organisations. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 3(1), 30-45.

GROUP stands for:

  • Goals
  • Reality
  • Options
  • Understanding others
  • Perform

I can’t really tell you much more about it because my Athens account doesn’t give me access to Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, so I can’t read the whole paper. Although, I did notice in the abstract they refer to ‘Scharma’s U process’, by which I assume they mean Theory U developed by Otto Scharmer. I mentioned this in my article on levels of listening. They also allude to ‘double-loop learning’. This is one aspect of transformational learning which was an inspiration for the Zones model.

I think Seasonal Affective Disorder has set in because I had a bit of a grumpy week last week. As a result, I’ve decided that I’ve had enough of positive, chirpy model acronyms and want to invent a few that reflect the sometimes disappointing reality of coaching and guidance.

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Time travel

It's nothing to do with a nuclear deterrent!

I was really pleased by the response to an earlier post in which I described my own Zones model. People seem to have found it helpful in framing what is going on with a client during a discussion. Buoyed by this success, I thought I would present another model that I tend to use in my practice. Because of the shape of the diagram, I call it the Trident model. As usual, it has been inspired by a number of different sources (see the Further Reading list at the end), but it was mainly triggered by the debate over the differences between the Counselling and Coaching approaches to guidance and the relative merits of action and reflection.

Personally, I find it useful to keep track of the balance and focus of a discussion with a client.

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Toolbox or artbox?

I am guilty.

I have committed this sin several times without thinking.

I am not the only one to have done it.

I have used the ‘T’ word.

I have used it on numerous occastions.

I have been known…

…when talking about the value of exploring theories and models…

…to use the phrase…

…’more tools in your toolbox’.

Art brushes

A brush with destiny

However, the more I think about it, the more I am annoyed by the limitations of the toolbox metaphor.

If you want to tighten a nut, you use a spanner. If you want to unscrew something, you use a screwdriver. Each tool has a specific, limited purpose. OK, if you need to bash in a nail and you don’t have a hammer, you could use a heavy spanner, but you wouldn’t be able to use the spanner to cut pieces of wood.

Giving career help to people is much more complicated. You don’t usually face a simple task for which one tool or approach is the best and only answer. Career problems are multifaceted and we often have to deal with a number of different issues simultaneously. This calls for something more sophisticated and creative than a mechanical ‘fix it’ approach and the toolbox metaphor that goes with it. Perhaps it’s time to swap the toolbox for the artbox.

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Questions about guidance

Question mark

Any questions?

Tristram Hooley who writes the blog Adventures in career development (and who also happens to be the Head of the International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) at the University of Derby) recently posted about a symposium that he was hosting. He wanted to develop a number of questions to get the discussion going. I liked his questions about guidance so much that I’m just quoting them here:

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The First Model

Ok, ok, this isn’t a trawl through the back issues of Hello Magazine to identify the ‘first’ ever model, instead a look at the FIRST Framework. I came across this model a few weeks ago and initially really connected with its simplicity. FIRST stands for: Focus, Information, Realism, Scope and Tactics. The dimensions of the FIRST framework can be used as a diagnostic tool to ascertain the stage the client is at in their career thinking.

  • Focus:  How far has the client narrowed down their options?
  • Information: How well-informed are they about the career options they are considering?
  • Realism: How realistic is the client (both in relation to own abilities and the constraints of the market)?
  • Scope: How aware is the client of the range of options available?
  • Tactics: To what extent has the client worked out the steps to achieve their career objectives?

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Is guidance past its sell-by date?

Work commitments meant that I couldn’t attend the NICEC/CRAC debate Past its Sell-By Date? Career guidance for the 21st Century. However, there are a couple of blog posts from people who were there: Tristram Hooley and Gillian.

Join the debate.

Related post: A new blood sport

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