Archive for the ‘Career management’ Category

Career Management Part 8

February 1, 2018

#8 Strategies to implement your plan

Career Management Success and The Organization Success:

Are they in synch? Yes? No? Kind of?

Let’s jump into the real world and execute!

I think everyone can agree that professional stasis is not good for you or the organization. It’s comforting to know that you have this in common. – Maybe.

Stasis is not good for you because you do not increase your career portfolio value. You’ve stopped learning and improving. If this lasts too long, unhappiness occurs. It opens the door for job burnout. Being passed over for promotion sometimes happens. I am sure you have your own stories to tell.

The company suffers from your stasis also. The most effective way for organizations to retain talent is to develop it and grow it. Career planning provides a way for employees to take ownership of their career development and map how they will achieve their career goals. For companies, career planning is a way to check on employee alignment with the company goals and objectives.

It seems to me that everyone wins here.

These thoughts may be running through your mind now: “But I am not winning”!  I feel stuck! I am running in place!  I am unhappy!”

Nothing earth shattering but is there anything that you can do about it? Yes, absolutely!

  1. Take accountability for your own development.
  2. Create a plan that allows opportunity on your terms.
  3. Find out what is going on with the company plans as well as within your group
  4. Compare plans: the company and your group plan (annual, quarterly) to your own career plan.

You can easily make most business and career decisions () based on two considerations:

  • Is this the best decision for the company?
  • How does this decision affect my career development?

You must connect the two. Because your company won’t (especially at review time).

Making the second response publicly is optional. However, I am finding out more and more from my clients that when the two plans are compatible and acknowledged, success follows (promotion e.g.)

Suppose the company benefits more from a decision related to your development more than you do.  Of course, you can put up with this for a period but then what are your options? Make it clear to your boss that you want professional development that will also benefit the company. If the response is a deaf ear, it’s time to move on. They should not be surprised then if you leave within the next few weeks.

Of course, there is always one person who thinks “it’s all about me and the company be damned”.  You can just imagine how long you might have building your empire or being employed.  Ignoring stakeholders makes them want to put a stake in you.

With the current performance management model, there are quarterly reviews or check -ins. These can be utilized to see if and how the two plans are in synch. Adjustments can be made on both sides can be negotiated.  You must set this up. Your career and the success of the company do matter to you.

As a recruiter, I was always impressed with candidates that had a career plan in mind. They not only knew what was next, but also where they wanted to go. They had a goal. And – music to my headhunter ears – they previously tried to get the next step with their current company.  For example, the candidate wanted a promotion at their current company.  They positioned themselves but the company dragged their feet.  That’s when the candidate decided to get the promotion outside.

Taking a lateral move to another company can work if you are very clear that you are on a timetable for promotion and/or professional development.

Yes, it falls on your shoulders to be completely accountable. But, you have the satisfaction in knowing that you have covered the most important bases.

You really can make this work.




Career Management Part 7

February 1, 2018



  1. Career Phases

With mastery of a skill or skills, can job burnout be far behind?Which phase are you in?

 We did say that anytime is the right time to start the career planning process for successful career management.

What follows is a tool that I use with my employed clients to find out where they might be in their career.  Every 2 or three weeks, I ask them two questions: “What did you do for the company ay this week?”  The answer is typically a long list of “accomplishments” and successes. The second question asked is:’’ Besides a paycheck, what did the company do for you?”.  The answer is much shorter.  They try to say what they learned that benefitted their career management program, offers of training or development, did their boss participate in any phase of the career management program execution.

In an ideal world, the answers to the questions should be about 50% for the company and about 50% to the employee.  Yes, I acknowledge that is unrealistic. But my experience with clients says it is more 90% what the company got and 10% was what the employee received (excluding a paycheck and benefits).


If there are any of you who are concerned about the war for talent and its retention, make a concentrated effort to find out the career mindset of your current employees.

Both learning and developing motivate us and keep us alive.  As learning/development decreases, I find that motivation and self-esteem tend to hit the skids.  Most companies encourage us to keep doing what we are doing successfully – and they will pay top dollars and give a lot of ego strokes to keep us in place.

It is up to the employee to set limits on company requests based on which phase they are in. As we have noted before, you can create a career plan anytime

Which phase are you in today?

Phase One:  You are considered a relative newbie with a high learning curve. Self-esteem is good as well as motivation. Confidence is tested.  External credibility starts to grow.  The dollars are OK.

Phase Two:  Competent but still learning; motivation and drive are high. Confidence grows.  Viewed as an “up and coming player” in the skills area.  The dollars start to increase.

Phase Three:  Now fully competent and approaching mastery but still learning (albeit at a slower pace).  Motivation and drive can start to waver. Viewed as credible and “right up there”.  A good jump in dollars.

Phase Four:  Highly proficient. Attained the SME and/or thought leader status.  Has mastered a skill. Learning process has slowed to a trickle. Motivation and drive are minimal at best.  Viewed as “the go to person” and discouraged from trying anything “new”.  The dollars are there, and buying a lot of false happiness. This phase lasts for a relatively short time

Phase Five:  No learning, resentful, job burnout, bored, unhappy, feeling trapped and powerless and does not want use this skill anymore – regardless of the dollars.  There usually is a lot of fear and confusion.  This mindset bleeds over into the personal life.

Best time for you to start planning the next move?

About Phase 3.

We are goal oriented.  We are motivated when we are learning and growing in the process of attaining the goal.  Career management and development are the full responsibility of the employee.  Your employer may or not be able to support your development if it is not aligned with their goals.  But you are in the driver’s seat nonetheless.

One question remains regarding developing a career plan:

 If not now, when?


Career Management Part 6

February 1, 2018

#6 The challenges and obstacles in career management/planning

No one ever said this would be easy

Unless you live on Mars, we have witnessed the change from an industrial economy to an information economy. As organizations become flatter, the corporate ladder is being replaced by the matrix.

A solid career plan works very nicely in matrix. But the bulk of the success is powered by you.

Developing a career plan is an effective way to keep learning and developing.  You will look forward to going to work.  The plan will define the steps to improve your skills (both hard and soft).  learn how to better engage common roadblocks such as age or a lack of experience.  As a coach, I have heard a common refrain from my senior clients” I am just too old”.  The other common woe is “I don’t have the right experience”.

So, what about age?

There is some good news here.  You can start a plan at any age.  including making a horizontal shift after you’ve hit middle age. Older employees bring knowledge and experience, but do not embrace the new technologies.  Automation is pervasive in every aspect in a company.  Can the senior employee help integrate automation (yes robots) into company’s systems and infrastructure? You bet. All organizations have only two needs: revenue and productivity.  Think beyond the job descriptions.  Ask yourself (and the interviewer), how does this job relate to the company’s basic needs.  Even if you are employed, “how does your job impact those two needs”?  I often ask my clients: “What kind of problems do you want to solve?” The answer to that question can help in creating your career plan.

Knowledge is Power

Career paths require additional knowledge such as industry trends, the latest in technology, current best practices and thinking. Participating in LinkedIn discussion groups who actively talk about what’s happening both now in your current position but also what is happening in your target career area. What else do you need to meet your career target?  Consider additional education, obtaining selected experience or exposure, specialized training.  Talk to people who are doing your targeted job now.  Ask them for their advice.  Asking for advice is in of the greatest compliments you can pay anyone.


“I hate company politics” a client would exclaim.  Or better yet: “I am not politics kind of person”.  My response is always: “Do you want to learn how to be more effective dealing with politics?  And I wait for an answer.  Gone are the days when an employee was measured only on results.  Many interpret that networking is succumbing to back stabbing politics.  Create your own reality if you must. But, career management does rely on who you know.  And those you know need to be stakeholders in your success and be totally supportive of your career planning efforts. Start building your network both inside and outside your organization.  Figure out who is in your alliance and who is not. You will probably make the closest connections with those you share your values. Through social media like Twitter and LinkedIn, follow the key leaders who are the players and who you admire.  They may be in a discussion group in which you are member.  Ask them if you can continue a group discussion offline.  The first rule of networking begs the question: “What do you have in common?”

Changes and you.

There is an old joke:  “Change is good.  You go first”.

Yes, all of us resist change to some degree or other. It is uncomfortable and distracting. But it is important to embrace change.  Career planning/management can help you minimize the rocking of your boat.  With every big change, such as downsizing, acquisition, reorganization etc., there is opportunity.  The biggest reason for this is that most employees go into fear mode.  Many simply do not know what will happen next. It was the author HP Lovecraft who said: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”.  With a solid career plan, you have the strengths and wherewithal to know where you are going. You are running towards a goal when the change was announced. Because of the change, you may be able to capitalize on an opportunity at your current company.

You know where the industry is now and where it is going. And you can reasonable predict where your organization fit and what lies ahead.

With a solid career plan, you are prepared for anything.

You don’t have the experience

If the term, “lack of experience” is thrown at you as an obstacle, it means that you don’t have the hard skills or a track record.  For example, we hear a lot about the importance of specialized “hands on” technical skills.  Keep in mind that most employers tend to over hire when it comes to skills.  They discount anyone who is willing to learn – especially if they have the right attitude (read work ethic) and share values with the corporate culture.  You can certainly gain experience in volunteering for programs both in your company and outside.  Keep a record of when you were a quick student learning something new.  Be sure that this quality is known in your network. Join a Meetup group where you can learn a new technology or process and network with people.

We can list other challenges to career planning/management as well:  first time managers leading former peers and transitioning from a command and control style to more of influencing and building alliances are just two.

Your development as a professional will be your “holy grail”.  You know who you are and where you are going.  Most organizations value a career plan.  This is one of the main ways they use to retain top talent.  By developing it.

You will fit in nicely — with you and them.

Up next: #7 The Seven Phases of a Career — which phase are you in now?

Career Management Part 5

February 1, 2018

#5  Step by step method in career plan development that supports the career management program

There is no magic wand or formula for career success. What you need are constant efforts and insightful strategies.  Career management is an ongoing process that can help you administer your learning and development plan. The benefits are many.  One is that it periodically provides for reflection on your interests, values, skills and preferences; It also checks on the alignment of the work with your personal circumstances.

After all, you are a company of one.

You must be proactive in starting and maintaining your plan.  The best time to start? Now would be a good time.

It is important to remember that the career planning process is an iterative one. You may have to go back to the beginning, or to any phase, at some point in your life as you reinvent yourself.  Get this now.

There are four basic steps

Step 1:  Who and Where Are You?

In my coaching practice, I always start from the “inside out”.  It’s important to know what a person’s values are now (not what they should be).  After all, every decision that we make is based on a set of values.  Congruency of values makes up much of the “chemistry in a hiring situation.  What are your skills? Skills come in two categories: natural and acquired (obtained through experience, training and education). You should identify what you enjoy doing in your current position and what skills you have mastered.  And list the parts of the job of which you are no longer a fit. I have always thought that with mastery of an acquired skill, can job burnout be far behind? (there is nothing new to learn or develop). Then comes goal setting.  Where would you like to be professionally?  What do you want out of position?  What will you need to learn or develop to obtain your goal? What are your preferred company cultures that you thrive in?  This may sound like a “wish list” but take to step 2. We are about to test the hypothesis.

Step 2: What is possible and what is probable?

We all know about the definition differences between possible and probable.  OK, possible anything can happen and probable says there is a good chance mathematically that it will happen. We now have the “wish list”. We must now do a “reality check”.  That is, we know must face the “realities” of your plan.  It is important to now get the facts on what it will take to get you to your goal.  It helps us decide what is probably and what is possible.  At your local library, you can secure information about your target:  duties and responsibilities, pay range, experience and skills required for the position, and what the future trends are for the position. You can also do internet searches using the title in addition. But, I highly recommend that you also talk with people doing the job now and ask: what do they like about their position and what do they see as challenging?  What advice do they have for you?  They should validate what you have already the way of credentials. What can they recommend what you need in the way of experience, knowledge, training, etc.?  It may be that there is an intermediate position you could take quite easily as a stepping stone to your goal. By the way, this exercise is a powerful networking tool.  After all, you are seeking out people for their opinion which is highly complementary vs. asking for a job.  You can circle back later and tell them that you are.  Job shadowing has become popular as well. You now come away with more in formation and have narrowed your options.

Step 3: Making Decisions

This step involves comparing your options, narrowing down your choices and thinking about what suits you best now.

What are my best work/training options?

How do they match with my skills, interests and values?

How do they fit with my current situation and responsibilities?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?

What are the barriers (money, time etc.)?

Step 4: Action

Here you plan the steps you need to take to put your plan into action.

Begin by asking yourself:

What actions/steps will help me achieve my work, training and career goals?

Where can I get help?

Who will support me?

At the end of this step you will have:

a plan to help you explore your options further (e.g. work experience, work shadowing or more research); or a plan which sets out the steps to help you achieve your next learning or work goal.

Decide which step is relevant for you right now and start from there.

UP NEXT:  looking at some strategies

Career Management Part 4

February 1, 2018



4 –The Pros Cons of Career Change

I expect that may readers will most likely go to this page first.  It’s recommended that you read all of the chapters.

We always have choices.  Some are calculated carefully to minimize risk.  Still others require some risk.  All things are possible.  However, very few of us make any decision which is based on a possibility of success or failure. It is up to each one of us to assess the probability of an outcome.  And of course, nothing is guaranteed in life.  But you already knew that.

But let’s skim down and see if it is worth it for you.  In my view, these are the big considerations.

Pros of making a career change:
1.) Ability to grow. Say goodbye to mundane tasks. Both entrepreneurship and switching to a different industry will have you pushing new limits by figuring things out, expanding your knowledge and gaining fresh experience.
2.) Focus on strengths and passion. Imagine how great it would feel to spotlight your best abilities and favorite projects day in and day out.
3.) Always working at your best. When you’re fascinated by your field of work, you’re more apt to stay on top of your industry and business altogether. Plus, you’re more prone to want to please your boss and not let her/him down, when the boss is YOU.
4.) Self-reflection. The realization of spending time at a job that is not fulfilling presents the opportunity for soul-searching and contemplating purpose, happiness and personal values.
5.) Sense of control. Simply taking charge and making the decision to change careers can build up confidence, positivity, excitement and ambition.

Cons of making a career change:
1) Financial insecurity. Starting a new business requires investment and also presents the likeliness of an unstable income. Changing industries in anticipation of working for another company might introduce a period of unemployment, paying for additional education and starting with an entry-level salary.
2) Trial & error. It’s important to consider a learning curve and delays when starting something new. Possible setbacks include time, strategy and finances.
3) Doing everything on your own. This one is more geared to those who are starting a small business with a limited budget. Business owners wear many hats and are compelled to learn about all aspects of their business.
4) Stress. Not that you’re not stressed at your current job. So, think of the pressure of completing day-to-day tasks in combination with the intensity of moving an entire company forward.
5) Higher stakes. There is more emotional investment when following your passion and therefore you might experience more worries both in business and personally.

All things are possible. So what is the probability of your success if you change careers? How risk averse are you?

In part 5, we will discuss a step by step process to career plan development.

Career Management Part 3

February 1, 2018

#3 Why is career management important?

When I was interviewing candidates as an executive search consultant, I was always impressed with those who had a strong sense of who they were both personally and professionally.  They were clear about realistic career goals. They comfortably responded to questions based on what they valued. They had an unmistakable confidence.  Many of them exhibited strong leadership skills.  And some were hired by a client but few were not.  Everyone was memorable.

If you want a “job” to pay the bills, there are plenty of opportunities out there for you.  In my view, a “job” means repetitive work, usually task oriented, and learning/development are not part of the equation.  It is important that you are passive and take what is given to you.  If you are looking for a “job”, then this column cannot help you.

There are many of us who want to keep learning, developing and contributing.  And we strive to enjoy doing our work as well.  We want certain things or events to occur throughout our life.  We have goals that we want to accomplish.

The goal of career management and planning is to produce the desired results that impact our lives.  It allows us to prepare and maintain a degree of control over the expected outcomes.

Career management means that you are the one that decides what you want to do in your professional life. You control where you work, and what you need to advance.  You have the power with a good career management firm.

In our professional lives, career management is a necessary tool to assist us in achieving both personal and professional goals.  With good career management, we can make the proper and timely decisions along the way with confidence.

There was a time in the not too distant past when I witnessed the middle manager waking up after about 6 or 7 years in their role.  They would say:” Gosh, I do not have my VP stripes yet.”  They would start scrambling to develop a career management program.  Sadly, in terms of a promotion, it was too late for a career management program.  It would have served them better to start a career management program the first day they were promoted to middle management.

In my executive career coach role, I hear the familiar refrain: “If I do good work in my current role, I will get promoted.”  No. It no longer works that way.  You have established yourself by the success of your current job.   People who have solid career management programs and a supporting career planning process have the edge when it comes to moving up.  They have communicated their plan to their organization.

So, what happens if your career management program does not align with the organization’s goals?  There is a fear that if this happens, the employee will be fired.  If the organization and the employee have started the career management program in a timely way (read early), this misalignment rarely happens.  But there is always the chance that the employee is going one way and the company is going the other. In this case, both parties need to first acknowledge the divergence.  The employee can assure the company that they will continue to perform in their current position.  The company needs acknowledge that they are unable (or unwilling) to support the employees career management program. They are not surprised over this predicament.  The organization realizes that every day, the employee becomes more and more a bad fit for their current role (like over qualified).  The advice to both is to move quickly to remedy the situation.  That is, the employee needs to seek a move to the outside (other company) to continue their management program.  The company must look at who is promotable via succession planning.  The wise incumbent who is moving on will have someone ready to step in.

So, we know what career management is and why it’s important.  So let’s get to the important part. Next  in Part Four, we discuss the steps for developing a career management plan.