Posts Tagged culture

Five employability mindsets

the five platonic solids by Johnson Cameraface

Which shape represents which mindset?

As I have just started teaching on the Chartered Management Institute Level 5 Diploma at the University of London, I thought it would be sensible to continue my recent activity of applying management theories and models to the world of careers coaching.

Most of the early conversations about employability and career management tended to focus on asking the question ‘How do you help students to develop skills or competencies that will make them effective in the job market?’. There tend to emerge two types of answer to this question: you give them training or you give them experience.

This mirrors the argument that has been running in the area of leadership development for a long time. There are those who argue that training without experience is too abstract (and therefore worthless) and there are those who argue that experience without training is random (and therefore worthless).

A slightly different perspective that seems to be emerging lately is that training, experience and combinations of training and experience tend to be more effective when participants have greater levels of self-awareness or when the training or experience itself promotes greater self-awareness.

One aspect of self-awareness that interests me is awareness of one’s own default mindset. Partly because of my interest in MBTI, I am conscious of the various ways in which different people approach the same problems. That’s why I was excited to come across a management model called the Five Managerial Mindsets.

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Universal needs?

Stony Faced by floato

Graham was happy when he finally found an adequate way to satisfy his need for security

What are the fundamental human needs?

What things, if we get them, will make us happy human beings?

Are there such things as universal human needs, that everyone in every society would identify with, or does it depend on your personality and cultural background?

In an earlier post on Maslow’s classic hierarchy of needs, I mentioned that it had been criticised (Hofstede, 1984)  for being based on Western sensibilities. In defence of his criticism Hofstede cited a research study by Haire et al. (1966) in which managers from 14 different countries were asked to rate the importance of various needs (security, social, esteem, autonomy, self-actualisation) as well as indicating their level of satisfaction and fulfilment of those needs.

In this study, only the managers from the US ranked the needs in the order proposed by Maslow.

So does that mean that Maslow’s needs are not universal?

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Cultural or universal

dharma wheel by Michael Hartford (mhartford)

Universal concepts

In The East and West of Careers Guidance, my colleague Saiyada talked about the Jiva project promoting career development counselling in India.

A recent paper by G. Arulmani (2011) expands on some of the cultural concepts that underlie this approach to careers work. I have my reservations about the research presented in the paper which claims to demonstrate that grounding career education in a culturally relevant framework is more effective than applying more universalist approaches.

This may well be true, but it’s really hard to tell from the details give of the differences between the two approaches used in the research whether the greater effectiveness is down to the cultural relevance or just down to providing a more coherent conceptual framework for the career development activities.

Aside from these concerns about the research methods, I do find the concepts derived from Asian spiritual traditions very thought provoking, especially when comparing them to equivalent concepts from Western career development theory.

Apologies in advance for my over-simplification of these concepts.

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Cultural beliefs in careers guidance

As promised, I am writing a follow-up to The East and West of Careers Guidance.  Since posting the article I have been thinking about one of our alumni (who I will call Priti) who gave feedback about her experience of Careers Guidance in the UK:

The adviser was very nice, she asked me lots of questions about my career decision making and made me think about what had led me to my career choice. I did at the end of the interview feel very sad. Although she made me think, I knew I couldn’t change my social situation or career decision. I guess although we spoke the same language we ultimately didn’t understand one another.

According to the Social Learning Theory of Career Decision Making (SLTCDM), people’s beliefs (or generalisations) about themselves and the world of work influence their approach to learning new skills, developing new interests, setting career goals, making career decisions, and taking action toward career goals. John D Krumboltz, who developed SLTCDM and was also behind Planned Happenstance, went on to say that beliefs can become so ingrained that they may not be identified by their holders as beliefs – they are taken to be unquestioned, self-evident truths.

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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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Mine! All mine!

Having recently run a workshop on differences in cultural communication, my eye was caught by a fascinating study just published in the Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology. The authors were looking into the explanations people from different countries gave for their career changes. The reasons given were divided into internal factors (e.g. desire for a change, wanting to develop) and external factors (e.g. organisational restructuring, luck). So far, so standard attribution theory.

Change

But who or what is responsible for the change?

The interesting bit was when they looked at country differences. The career changers from the USA exclusively gave internal reasons for change, whereas those in China gave mostly external reasons. Career changers in Europe tended to offer a mixture.

Chudzikowski, K., et al. (2009) Career transitions and their causes: A country-comparative perspective. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 82(4), 825-49.

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