Posts Tagged engagement
‘… One cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths… These strengths are the true opportunities’ (Drucker, 1967)
In preparing to facilitate a recent Guidance Forum on using a strengths-based approach in careers guidance, I revisited some of the positive psychology and strengths-based literature. Because of this, I have been reflecting further on how I can incorporate some of the ideas, theories and approaches into my careers work.
The positive psychology and strengths-based movement has been gaining momentum over recent years with a growing body of research demonstrating the benefits of positive emotion and focusing on our strengths for our life and our work. In emphasising strengths rather than weaknesses, positive psychology moves us away from the Negativity Bias whereby we find it easier to pay attention to what’s wrong or areas requiring development. The concept of strengths appeared in business literature with Peter Drucker (1967) and subsequently through the vision of Donald Clifton of The Gallup Organisation and the work of Martin Seligman in the field of positive psychology.
A while ago I was running a workshop on career choice. After we had explored all the various things that one should be doing to increase one’s chances of making a good decision, one of the participants looked at me with a rather glum expression and said ‘That sounds like too much hard work! Even though I know I should do it, I’m not sure I will. It’s not much fun.’
I had to agree with her. The way I was presenting it made it sound really onerous, responsible and worthy. Surely, there must be another way!
OK, The Fun Theory isn’t a career theory, it’s not really a theory at all. It’s a competition and marketing initiative by Volkswagen which involves coming up with ideas to encourage people to do responsible things (such as recycling and doing more exercise) by making them more fun. See the video below for a way to get people to take the stairs rather than the escalator.
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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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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