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.
Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling
March 2013 | issue 30
New perspectives on career coaching
This edition contains the latest thinking on career coaching. It features the results of a recent survey and papers focused on practice in public and private sector contexts. There are also new conceptual pieces and contributions from course providers outlining their distinctive approaches. In short, this edition is essential reading for anyone connected with this growing and exciting field.
- The changing shape of the career profession in the UK – Charles Jackson
- Career coaching in private practice: a personal view – Denise Taylor
- Lost in translation: career coaching deaf students – Lynne Barnes and Elizabeth F. Bradley
- Careers guidance and career coaching – what’s the big idea? – Bill Law
- Developing sustainable career coaching in the workplace – Rob Nathan and Wendy Hirsh
- The education and training of career coaches: a psychological model – Janet Sheath
- A positive approach to career coaching – Julia Yates
- Creating career coaching – Gill Frigerio and Phil McCash
Subscription and membership
The Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling (ISSN 2046-1348) is published twice a year (cover price £20 per issue) and can be purchased via an annual subscription (£35 UK or £50 overseas including postage).
Membership of NICEC is also available (£100). Members receive the journal, free attendance at NICEC events and other benefits. For information on journal subscription or membership, please contact Wendy Hirsh: firstname.lastname@example.org
PDF version: nicec-journal-flyer-march-2013
Also see this excellent article by Oliver Burkeman.
It’s a while since I introduced a new guidance or coaching model. Here is one I came across fairly recently. It appeals to me because it is quite simple and has a strong metaphorical visual image which makes it easy to remember.
A paper recently published in the International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance explains an approach to narrative-based careers counselling originating from a systems theory framework through ‘three levels of story crafting questions’.
One of the significant changes in the new Matrix quality assurance framework for careers services is an increased emphasis on evaluating the outcomes of our work with clients.
The most significant changes are the increased focus on outcomes, competence of staff, commitment to continuous improvement, service delivery linked to outcomes and responses to information technology advances.
A few services who have stuck with collecting more traditional feedback on their services have been judged as falling short in this area. Just asking clients whether they found a session useful or interesting is not enough any more (if it ever was).
In the Value and Impact Toolkit developed by the Association of Managers of Student Services in Higher Education (AMOSSHE), measures of impact are differentiated from measures of satisfaction.
Impact is about change, which implies that a situation needs to be evaluated before an action to stimulate change takes place, and after to determine whether indeed change has taken place. Impact might also be evaluated in terms of the effect of an activity on different groups; for example, students might attend a particular programme on a voluntary basis, so impact might be measured after the programme takes place in relation to the knowledge levels of those who attended against those who did not attend.
So what else could you measure and what would it tell you about the impact you are having?
A few years ago I went to see Our House the musical based on the songs of Madness. The music was good. The choreography was good too. But what I really liked was the story, which was quite imaginative for a jukebox musical.
It tells the story of Joe Casey, who does something stupid to impress a girl and then faces a choice: stay and risk getting arrested or run away. At this point the the storyline splits in two, following the consequences of these options and the different versions of Joe that emerge as a result.
The idea of exploring alternative versions of ourselves and finding out what we could have become if we had made different choices is very appealing in fiction. Sliding Doors, It’s a Wonderful Life, Melinda and Melinda and many others.
I recently came across a paper which nicely mashes up two of my favourite themes: counterfactual thinking and identity development into the concept of alternative selves. It explores the impact of these alternative selves on our sense of identity.