Career Development

Question to Ask the Workplace  Doctors about  Career Development:

I am currently employed as a Human Resources Representative in an Oil and Gas company in Papua New Guinea. My organization is in the process of developing a new Career Development process. I am part of an internal group that was asked to find out about the following questions and report our findings back to our Learning and Development Team. 1. What is the employee perception of what a successful career is? What does it look like? 2. What are some of the tools, resources that can enable employees to progress their career? 3. What barriers have employees encountered in trying to progress their career and how can this barriers be removed?

My group has already brainstormed some responses to the above questions as it relates to our organization. However, I asked the questions because I would like to get further information on the issues/questions especially the common perception of a successful career and the common barriers encountered in career progression. This would provide me with more insight to analyze our brainstormed notes and assist us to present a constructive feedback to our Learning and Development Team. Your assistance in providing the relevant information will be appreciated.

Signed, HR Career Planner

Dear HR Career Planner:

Career Development company-wide is wisely linked to corporate manpower forecasting and planning. When it is, its employees can learn what they must do to fit into that and if indeed they have a future within.

1. What is the employee perception of what a successful career is? What does it look like? What makes for success hinges on the culture. In countries that have a large power-distance–that is to say those at the bottom accept it almost impossible to rise to higher levels; success most probably means keeping one’s job and staying in it until old age. In more individualistic cultures, many people perceive success as mobility; moving on up. Being able to climb the corporate ladder is success to those who see themselves as high achievers. More money is success to those who have tasted of big money. To them greed is good and they rationalize that they deserve all they can get regardless of others who may work a year or lifetime for what a rich employee can earn in a day.

On the other hand, most of us accept that not everyone can be rich and we understand that the number of those is fewer and fewer toward the top of the organizational pyramid. Consequently, we see success as doing something we love and find is creative, challenging, and/or care-giving. It is being good at one’s job and earning the respect of one’s peers and profession. In the military, that means medals on one’s chest and stars on one’s shoulders. Modest financial freedom means success to almost all of us. It is to belong within a profession and organization and to not be trapped within a company. It is to belong and work in a job or series of jobs that are meaningful. Members of a good place to work see success as being wanted, they have and want job security. If one had been verbally abused in a job, success might be simply working within a pleasant atmosphere. An increase in pay and responsibility are tangible indicators of success for such individuals.

Career-wise satisfaction flows from one’s job capabilities and accomplishments. Self-esteem is success. And more importantly it is, as the ancients have said; to know the good, the true, and the beautiful. It is earning the good will of one’s community, it is good having good sense about the decisions in the business of living, and it is good character. Success from a broader perspective entails reasonably good health and the pleasure of being active. It is, as the old song goes: You are nobody until somebody loves you. It is to finding and maintaining loving relationships. A wise organization does all it can to facilitate and not frustrate these life-meaning measures of success.

2. What are some of the tools, resources that can enable employees to progress their career? The most helpful resource to career development is superiors and managers that demonstrate they are interested and supportive of those under their charge. This means one-on-one conversations from time to time about what an individual wants to do with his next few years. It also means providing within company cross training and mentoring by different individuals in varied jobs. It means collaborative planning and opportunities for training to make one’s career goals achievable. Wouldn’t it be great to work in a department in which co-workers and their superiors are genuinely interested in and supportive of others’ careers?

3.What barriers have employees encountered in trying to progress their career and how can these barriers be removed? The biggest barrier is time. Just making enough money to keep bread on the table can take all the energy one has. Therefore, talking about career development isn’t even dreaming unless the organization can build into the job time to learn appropriate job skills needed for the next steps along an individual’s career path. Of course, not having the required certification prevents movement; therefore opportunity for training should be supported.

Economic barriers are real, and psychological barriers often are linked to seeing oneself as a victim of birth and circumstance. Sometimes those above don’t want to see an openly ambitious employee. That is to say within every organization politics is a fact and can hinder as well as foster careers. An organization must value and support ambition if it is to mean business in its talk about Career Development.

Finally, I suggest that in addition to brainstorming, focus groups, and literature research you ask your self and interview a sampling of employees: what does career success mean to you? Then rank order answers to this question and consider what a career development program might do to address these hopes and dreams.I think it is a mistake to think of success as an individual’s achievement. We are interdependent. Charles Lindbergh was the first solo the Atlantic in a small plane. He named that plane The Lone Eagle. But he titled his book about that success with the two-letter word: WE. As you probably know if you have scanned our site, in keeping with that spirit, I conclude my answers to questions such as yours with: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Your company’s attention to career development is as it should be: a collective goal; engaging all your employees and stakeholders in creating meaningful working lives.

William Gorden