Archive for September, 2009

On your best (planned) behaviour

In a comment on Time-wasters’ diary, Brammar (Laura) talked about the self-efficacy of careers advisers. This made me think about theories we can apply to ourselves as practitioners as well as to clients.

Icek Ajzen - Theory of pretty cool shades

Icek Ajzen

One of my personal theories-of-the-moment is the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) developed by Icek Ajzen. TPB examines the attitudes and beliefs that lead people to turn an idea into an intention, and then turn an intention into an action.

Ajzen was partly inspired by Bandura’s idea of self-efficacy. So TPB has a lot of overlap with social cognitive theory and social learning theory, which contain similar themes.
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Guidance vs Coaching

Over the last couple of weeks I have found myself in deep debate with my careers colleagues about the differences and similarities between Coaching and Guidance. I myself struggle to differentiate the two practices, so upon much probing a colleague clarified Coaching as “practice focused on goal setting and achievement where as Guidance is all about the past”

This got me thinking, both the Egan 3 Stage Model and the popular Ali & Graham Model contain a clearly defined action planning stage and there isa focus on goal setting. Yes, there is an exploration stage where practitioners are encouraged to help clients reflect on blocks and obstacles to their decision making, identify patterns of behaviour from the past that may impact future choice and hell we even work as catalysts in helping clients define their own way forward. So erm, what was the difference between Guidance and Coaching?
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A new blood sport

Tally ho! The hounds have picked up a scent! It's a careers adviser.

Tally ho! The hounds have picked up a scent! It's a careers adviser.

Hunting of foxes with dogs is (for the moment) banned in the UK. However, hunting of careers advisers with questionable research is still apparently legal. There have been a number of instances over the last few months of careers-adviser bashing by various bodies.

Because these are not published in peer-reviewed journals they don’t have to explain exactly how they conducted their research and obtained their ‘evidence’. It’s very easy to produce dodgy statistics to support an argument which pushes your own predetermined agenda.
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Time-wasters’ diary

Relaxing may be bad for you

Relaxing may be bad for you

Recent longitudinal research has established a link between students’ behaviour at university and their chances of job burnout or dissatisfaction.

In their article ‘Achievement strategies during university studies predict early career burnout and engagement’ (Journal of Vocational Behavior 75 2009), Katariina Salmela-Aro and her colleagues conducted investigations on over 200 Finnish students whilst at university and then 10, 14 and 17 years later.

The study showed that those students who more often engaged in task avoidance whilst at university were more likely to report burnout or disengagement with their careers in later life. Whilst, higher levels of optimism were linked to more engagement.
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Modes of growth

Most of us are probably familiar with the Experiential Learning Theory of David Kolb. However, did you know that he had dabbled in career theory?

In the book Career Frontiers: New Conceptions of Working Lives (2000, OUP) he contributes the chapter snappily entitled Performance, learning and development as modes of growth and adaptation throughout our lives and careers along with Richard Boyatzis.
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Learned helplessness and the recession

Helpless dog

Helpless dog (who has not been electrocuted - just in case you were worrying)

In 1967 Martin Seligman conducted some slightly disturbing experiments on dogs. The dogs were exposed to electric shocks that they could not escape because of restraints. Eventually they would give up trying to do anything about their suffering. This lack of response continued even when the restraints were removed and it was possible for them to avoid the pain. The dogs had come to believe that they could do nothing about the shocks, so they didn’t try.

Based on this, and further experiments on animals and humans, Seligman formulated the theory of learned helplessness. In essence, it says that when someone is exposed to an experience in which they feel they have no control or ability to change things, this can lead to an assumption of helplessness which persists even if it subsequently becomes possible to effect a transformation.

Throughout the recession there has been talk about how to help the ‘lost generation‘. However, if learned helplessness is real, then it will require more than just providing opportunities. The recession may have affected the perceptions and attitudes of a generation of job-seekers.
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The three levels of listening

Are you listening?

Are you listening?

I am preparing to deliver The Careers Group’s two day Basic Guidance Interview Skills training course. In preparation and in search of new ways of bringing to life the training, I have been reading a book by Laura Whitworth called Co-Active Coaching.

In this book, the author explains the importance of listening within a coaching context by describing the three  levels of listening which I think provide an effective way of illustrating the importance of active listening.

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Can careers theory be useful?

This should probably have been the first post…

For several years I have delivered a training course with this title. It was based on the question asked by many careers advisers who, whilst expressing an interest in theories, found it difficult to see how they could be applied to everyday careers work.

In an article for Phoenix a few years ago I argued that theories help us to question our assumptions about what is important and what is peripheral in career choice. Because career decisions are extremely complex, with a multitude of overlapping factors, trying to deal with them in a limited time will always involve making assumptions. You and I as career practitioners will make assumptions every time we decide to ask one question rather than another, or follow one thread out of the many available to us. We do not articulate these preconceptions; we are often not even aware of them. A theory is a set of explicitly stated assumptions. As such, they can help us view a client from an angle which is different from our habitual perspective.

But how?

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