Archive for October, 2009

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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Twisting the kaleidoscope

In our work with foundation doctors choosing their specialties, I pose a number of questions to help them to think about their choice in more depth. One of these questions is, ‘Have you thought about how your priorities will change over time?’ One of the female doctors accused me of aiming this question specifically at women because they are the ones likely to have to consider issues of work-family balance. However, many of the male doctors I’ve spoken to have also raised the issue of working hours and their impact on life outside work.

Last week the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published the research report Working Better: Fathers, family and work – contemporary perspectives. This quote from the conclusions sums up the main findings of the research.

The findings from this survey show that fathers’ attitudes towards parenting do not appear to match the reality of their work and care arrangements. Their rejection of traditional views, dissatisfaction with the time they spend with their children and their strong support for extended paternity leave shows a willingness to be involved in the day-to-day care of their children. In practice, however, most fathers still work full time, and many work long hours.

See the press release for other key highlights. In the report, they admit that the figures may be unrepresentative because men who are actively involved in sharing responsibilities for parenting are more likely to respond to the survey. Similarly, male doctors who are particularly concerned about work-life balance may be more likely to attend optional career management sessions.

Aaah! Pretty!

Ooooh! Pretty!

In 2005 Lisa Mainiero and Sherry Sullivan introduced the concept of Kaleidoscope Careers as a way to describe the changing priorities over the course of a person’s working life.

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Are you like a quilt?

Now, which square do I want to be today?

Now, which square do I want to be today?

During my training I remember coming up against a few theories that I really struggled with. Mostly because they seemed to me to be overly academic and I couldn’t see how they could be implemented effectively in my everyday work. One of these theories was Integrative Life Planning (ILP).

ILP, developed by L. Sunny Hansen in the late 1990s uses a quilt as a metaphor. The quilt is composed of many different levels, all telling their own story but also weaving together to represent a person’s whole life. This quilt can be understood on three levels:

  • Global world where there are dramatic, overarching changes
  • The career world, where profession knowledge and practice are changing
  • The ILP model itself, where a person’s world is ever changing

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Positive compromise

I want to continue this short series of posts based around the theme of compromise by looking at a more modern developments.

In 2004 Charles Chen introduced the concept of positive compromise (Positive compromise: a new perspective for career psychology. Australian Journal of Career Development, 13(2) 2004). Compromise within career choice is generally considered a negative concept. Chen proposes that compromise will always be part of career choice in a complex and rapidly-changing world. Therefore, it makes sense to understand how to engage with compromise in constructive way.
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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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Haunted by the ghosts of compromise

Spooky!

Spooky!

The previous post on Circumscription and Compromise reminded me of a client I saw a while ago for whom compromise was an important issue. (I have changed some of the details to preserve confidentiality.)

Objectively, Martin appeared to have a successful career in television. However, he admitted to being very disappointed with his life. He had started out working on serious social documentaries but had moved into reality television because there were more opportunities available. He was regretting the move because he felt that he had sold out on his principles and was feeling dissatisfied despite his success.
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Classics – Gottfredson

Linda Gottfredson - does she feel circumscribed or compromised?

Linda Gottfredson - is she circumscribed or compromised? I don't think so.

In 1981, Linda Gottfredson first put forward the theory of Circumscription and Compromise. It sits on the border between matching theories and developmental theories of career choice because it looks at how people’s career matching processes develop over time. It also explores the interaction of sociological factors and psychological factors that determine career decisions.

In a later article Gottfredson talks about how the theory can be applied to career guidance and counselling (‘Using Gottfredson’s theory of circumscription and compromise in career guidance and counseling’ in Career Development and Counseling: Putting Theory and Research to Workan alternative version). She recommends several different activities to foster good development of career decision making. Although the recommendations are aimed at children (and are a bit jargon-filled), they can provide a useful model for thinking about careers provision at any age.
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What’s your bias?

Imagine that a small hamlet of 600 people has been struck down by a potentially fatal disease. A health expert comes to you and offers two possible treatment programmes:

  • If you follow Programme A 200 people will be saved
  • If you follow Programme B there is a one-third probability that all 600 will be saved, but a two-thirds probability that no-one will be saved.

Which would you go for?

Now, let’s imagine that neither Programme A or B is viable. Instead, the boffin proposes another two treatment programmes:

  • If you follow Programme C 400 people will die.
  • If you follow Programme D there is a one-third probability that no-one will die and a two-thirds probability that 600 people will die.

Which would you choose now?

This probably didn’t trip you up — you may have spotted that programmes A and C are exactly the same and programmes B and D are exactly the same. However, when these choices were presented separately to two groups of people, those who were given programmes A and B mostly chose A, and those who were presented with C and D mostly chose D (Entman, R. M. (1993), Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication 43(4)  51–58.)

Presenting the options in a slightly different way with different wording resulted in people making radically different decisions. This is an example of a cognitive bias — a repeatable irrationality in the way we tend to think and make choices. This particular cognitive bias is called framing (or possibly the pseudocertainty effect), but dozens of them have been identified.
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Outliers

Vancouver Canucks v Anaheim Ducks

Was he born in January?

I have just enjoyed reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers. It is a book about success — extraordinary success — and what is behind it. As with Gladwell’s other books, Outliers contains a treasure trove of surprising facts that make you stop in your tracks. Why are most successful ice hockey players in Canada born in January, February or March? Why did many of the most successful corporate lawyers in New York have almost identical biographies? Why were commercial planes flown by Korean pilots more likely to have accidents than those flown by Americans?

Gladwell takes on the pervasive myth that extraordinary success is purely the result of extraordinary talent in individuals. He examines the social, cultural, racial and systemic factors that hide behind the success stories.
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Constructing successful careers

How useful are your career constructs?

How useful are your career constructs?

A while ago I came across a fascinating article entitled ‘Graduates’ Construction Systems and Career Development’ by Valerie Fournier (Human Relations 50(4) 1997). The research used a technique from Personal Construct Psychology called the Repertory Grid to elicit the constructs (mental frameworks) through which graduates viewed themselves in the world of work. Fournier examined the graduates as they started their careers, after six months and then after four years.

She then compared the graduates whose careers had been successful with those who were less successful. She used objective measures of success (i.e. promotions) and subjective measures (i.e. reported career satisfaction).
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