Archive for category Roles
I hate chairing meetings!
It’s quite odd when you think about it, because I have no trouble facilitating group workshops — I really enjoy that.
If you analyse the skills required to chair meetings and to facilitate workshops, they are virtually the same. You need to be good at listening and summarising. You need to be good at responding to people and keeping them on track. You need to have a good sense of timing and be able to keep in mind the overall structure and aims.
I can do all of those things when I’m leading a workshop and I feel very comfortable, but when I’m chairing a meeting I feel awkward and nervous and out of control.
The difference in my attitude might be explained by the fact that, even though the skills are the same, the role is different. In my mind, the role of a meeting chair is more formal and more serious than the role of a facilitator. I have two different pictures in my head when I think about the different roles. One is more consistent with my self image than the other — even though the practicalities of the roles are very similar.
When we think about matching ourselves to a career, we often think about how our discrete values or skills align with the rewards and requirements of the job. We are dealing with quite abstract and artificially separated concepts.
A more sophisticated way of understanding a job might be to look at the different distinct roles that you are required to fulfil as you go through your working day.
In a rather cute bit of research by Takashi Nakao at Nagoya University, Japan (and a whole host of researchers at Hiroshima University), students were prompted with random pairings of job titles and asked to choose which occupation they thought they could do better. The researchers then used EEG to measure the students’ brain activity in certain areas that are associated with conflict in relation to decisions.
In the first study they demonstrated that the amount of activity recorded was related to the difficulty of choosing between the options. There was more activity (more conflict) as well as a slower reaction time when students were choosing between two options that they found equally attractive.
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.
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.
Rita Carter is a science writer who has written a number of books on the human brain and how it works. Her most recent book is called Multiplicity and it examines the idea that we do not have one consistent and constant personality or identity. Instead, some psychologists suggest that we have a number of different personalities inside us, linked to different clusters of memories. The different situations and contexts we experience prompt different mini-personalities to take control of our thoughts and actions.
A similar theme is approached from a slightly different angle by Peter MacIlveen and Wendy Patton from Queensland University of Technology in their article ‘Dialogical self: author and narrator of career life themes’ in the International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance (Volume 7, Number 2, August, 2007 – or try here for an alternative version).