All posts by Vitas Consult

Envisioning The Future

Writing in July’s TD Beverley Kaye and Linda Williams say, “Individuals need the encouragement, resources, tools, and support to envision their futures. They don’t need every possible new app or program, but they do need conversations with managers, coaches, or mentors. They need to take action, be open to learning, be willing to change behaviors, and be introspective enough to clarify their career needs, wants, and aspirations.”

When the world’s largest child focused humanitarian organisation began to embrace online learning and created its own e-Campus I was not surprised to find that the online “Career Development Centre” gained eager followers across the globe at a faster pace than any other development offer.

Based on personal experience as a mature career changer, as a qualified career development practitioner, coach and a former global practice talent leader in the diverse fields of financial services and humanitarian development I so agree with Beverley Kaye and Linda Williams.<a href=”http://www.lulu.com/commerce/index.php?fBuyContent=23117786″><img src=”http://static.lulu.com/images/services/buy_now_buttons/en/book_blue2.gif?20180522063120″ border=”0″ alt=”Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.”></a>

My practical guide to career development for those considering a change of career direction is designed to help people who would benefit from some help being, as Beverley and Linda express it, “introspective enough to clarify their career needs, wants, and aspirations”.  It is now available from Lulu publishers.

Performance Management Case Study 1

In recent years there has been much debate about performance review or annual appraisal processes. Some of the debate was influenced by changes in practice within large corporations.

This is the first in a new series of case studies examining performance management. Our aim is to find out what really spurred change and what actually happened behind the headline announcements.

CEB research has found that more than 9 in 10 managers are dissatisfied with how their companies conduct annual performance reviews, and almost 9 in 10 HR leaders say the process doesn’t yield accurate information.

In addition, the CEB (formerly the Corporate Executive Board), found that performance management is time-consuming. A CEB survey discovered that managers estimate that they spend an average of 210 hours a year on performance management activities. Managers said their employees, in turn, each spend 40 hours a year. This might be time well spent but it appears that it is not: seventy-seven percent of HR executives report to the CEB that performance reviews don’t accurately reflect employee contributions.

In August 2015, GE decided to do away with annual reviews for its 300,000 employees entirely, replacing these evaluations with more frequent conversations between employees and managers. Senior managers had begun questioning the value of the GE Employee Management System, which had been in place for almost 40 years. The key question posed was: Is it delivering what is needed for the future? An internal review suggested that the EMS was not in practice encouraging continuous and fluid processes of performance development. It wasn’t providing feedback in real time nor helping GE respond to change and prepare for the future.

GE’s existing method of performance review was rather formal, it took place once, sometimes twice, a year and the focus was on a review of the past. The most notable features were its formality, a strong sense of looking backwards and that the system itself drove the process from the top down.

GE’s new system changed the language and the technology of performance management. The focus became development rather than a rear view mirror examination and the name was changed to signal a new intention: Performance Development at GE or PD@GE for short. The aim was to encourage forward-thinking, actionable conversations as a daily priority. These conversations between managers and employees were to consider performance in terms of insights and fuel for coaching, and to have a strong forward focus on delivering impact and outcomes. A strong emphasis was placed on developing employees and delivering business outcomes, focusing on work that matters most, and accelerating an employee’s growth through continuous discussion.

The process is supported through the use of an app: the PD@GE app. This provides a single place where employees can set priorities, organise discussions with managers, and share insights with fellow team members. It was created to encourage a more nimble approach to professional development to ensure maximum efficiency and best serve the company’s customers.

The process allows for occasions where a manager and their team member may take stock and plan development and future work priorities. As GE rolled out the PD@GE approach they experimented with an integrated ratings system, and without. They noticed that, when piloting the no-ratings system, compensation and bonus planning still took place and the overall quality of the conversations were better. GE’s expectations are that managers know their employees so well that they can articulate their impact and behaviours, and then rewards are aligned to both, rather than merely relying on a performance rating.

Who am I?

Changing career in mid-life becomes easier if you have done some work on your values and your passions. Doing so helps many people to understand and to talk about who they are. Regardless of your career to date, your future decisions about career will be easier and more valid if you have a clear understanding of your own orientation toward work, your motives, your values and your self-perceived talents. Being clear about these  helps in focusing career development tactics and enables people to talk confidently about what you will bring to a particular role. My experience as a coach suggests that most people have several passions and that as they get older they make decisions about the passion – or the small number of passions – that are so strongly aligned with their values that they will not give them up easily.

Some people are very clear about their career related values. Others find it helpful to take one of many career assessments. These assessments will help you explore your career interests, skills, your values, and personality. In this post I would like to introduce Edgar Schein’s “Career Anchors”.

Edgar Schein and Thomas De Long developed “career anchors” in the 1970s. They described career anchors as that combination of perceived areas of competence, motives and values that you would not give up: it represents your real self.

Schein’s “Career Anchors” can help you think through your career options and give you a clear understanding of:

  • Your own orientations toward work
  • Your motives
  • Your values
  • Your talents

Use of “Career Anchors” also helps people:

  • Define the themes and patterns dominant in their life
  • Understand their own approach to work and a career
  • Provide reasons for choices
  • Take steps to fulfil their own self-image

As you accumulate work experience, you have the opportunity to make choices; from these choices you begin to ascertain what you really find important. Dominant themes emerge—critical skills or abilities that you want to exercise or crucial needs or values that dominate your orientation toward life. You may have had a sense of these elements but, until now, you may not have assessed them in a thorough way. However, when changing careers in mid-life this self-awareness becomes vital. Knowing how important these aspects of yourself are and how any given talent, motive, or value relates to other elements of your total personality becomes an important “lens” through which to plan and talk about your career change journey. It is often only when we are confronted with difficult choices that we begin to evaluate and decide what is really important to us.

With accumulation of work experience and feedback comes clarification and insight, providing a basis for making more rational and empowered career decisions. Notice the importance of feedback especially if you have participated in work-based feedback processes and have a recent report that you can re-examine.

Through self-assessment the self-concept begins to function more and more as a personal “guidance system” and as an “anchor” that shapes career choice. Out of this process people begin to talk about careers saying that this role is something they identify with whilst that occupation is not something they could ever see themselves doing. This knowledge keeps us on course or in a “safe harbour”.

As people recount their career choices, they increasingly refer to “being pulled back” to things they have strayed from or, looking ahead, “figuring out what they really want to do” or “finding themselves.” This process leads people to gradually move from having broad goals to a sense of knowing better what it is that they would not give up if forced to make a choice. The career anchor, as defined by Schein and his co-authors, is that one element in a person’s self-concept that he or she will not give up, even in the face of difficult choices. And if their work does not permit expression of the anchor, people find ways of expressing it in their hobbies, in second jobs, or in leisure activities.

Schein and his colleague developed the career anchor concept at MIT. An empirical investigation conducted by Catherine Steele and others and reported to the British Psychological Society’s 2007 Occupational Psychology Conference, concluded that the eight career anchors, as measured through use of Edgar Schein’s “Career Anchors: Discovering Your Real Values” is a valid model with satisfactory internal reliability results.

This tested reliability is important to know because there are many forms of assessment available and not all of them are reliable. I recommend that mid-life career changers make use of the “Career Anchors” approach and find that people do find it beneficial. It is recommended for use in  “My Career Development Plan”  which you can purchase here

Schein’s approach to Career Anchors included the use of a Career Anchor Interview to be used after completion of the Career Orientations Inventory. I am pleased to advise about the use of the Interview: it is a particularly helpful process that mid-life career changers have found valuable.

“Career Anchors: The Changing Nature of Careers: Self Assessment”, 4th Edition by Edgar H. Schein and John Van Maanen, published in May 2013 contains the “Career Anchors Self-Assessment” or “Career Orientations Inventory”,  the simple “Scoring Instructions” and the “Descriptions of the Career Anchor Categories”. Guidance on the user’s “Next Steps” and “Choices” are also included.

Mid-Life Career Change?

As people look back over their working lives it is not uncommon to find them asking questions about service, achievement and satisfaction. Some may be in positions where the opportunities for development through work are limited and they may increasingly identify with the view that there’s a considerable difference between twenty years of experience, and one year of experience relived twenty times! Unsurprisingly, this feeling can be expressed in employee’s engagement with their work. Gallup, for example, has found that the percentage of actively disengaged workers tends to be highest among those aged 40-49. Workers in this age group were almost 1.5 times as likely as those aged 18-29 or those aged 60 and older to be actively disengaged (15% for both the youngest and oldest age groups).

Faced with the evidence, Gallup concluded that, once employees are past early adulthood – the years when many are learning their chosen profession – they become significantly less likely to strongly agree that their workplace is a source of personal development.

Evidence from psychological research confirms what shared experience would suggest: that life goals and motivation tend to shift, as people grow older. As many coaches would confirm, mid-life is a time when people re-evaluate their goals and make changes accordingly.

Sometimes the incentive to make these career changes may be fuelled by a sense of dashed expectations. Hannes Schwandt, an economist at the University of Zurich found that young people overestimate their future happiness, and so feel disappointed as life goes on. But as people approach 60, they start underestimating their future happiness, and then are pleasantly surprised by reality.

For many, accumulated wealth, relative security and a desire to really make a difference or to “give something back” propels individuals in mid-life toward something of a career crisis. E B White captured their quandary: “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

“My Career Development Plan” is a practical guide to career development for those considering a change of career direction. It was written by John Evans, a qualified career development practitioner, executive coach and former global practice leader for the world’s largest child focused humanitarian development agency. John was previously head of Hewitt Associates’ European Organisational Development practice. Your copy is available here.

“Cubing” Career Goals

“Cubing” is a way of brainstorming outlined in the book “Writing”, by Gregory Cowan and Elizabeth Cowan (New York: Wiley, 1980). With cubing, as with other brainstorming methods, you start with one topic, challenge or issue. Then, you apply six points of view (like the six sides of a cube) to the issue. Here, we have adapted the method so it can be used as a tool for initial career goal development. To use the cubing method …

Click “Present” in the visual above. Use the forward and back arrows beneath the presentation to page through the process.

First, write down your career development goal.

Second, examine your goal closely and describe it in as much detail as you want.

Third, compare this goal with other goals in your life. Is is significantly different from them or related to them in some way?

Fourth, ask yourself what this goal makes you think of?

Fifth, analyse your goal. Break it into parts that you find relevant and helpful.

Sixth, now describe what achieving you goal would mean to you and to other people.

Finally, debate with yourself – or someone you trust – what might stop you from achieving your goal and what might work in your favour?

A Career With Impact?

Impactpool is a unique career platform aiming to provide the best possible support to people who want to pursue a career within mission-driven organisations. Impactpool (previously UNjobfinder) was founded in 2015 and is a social enterprise with headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. Its founders were aware of the need for a qualified, customer oriented and user-friendly service covering the global employment sector of mission driven organisations.

Impactpool’s own mission is to support highly qualified and motivated individuals by helping them grow professionally and to develop successful careers within organisations that contribute to a sustainable world. In just three years Impactpool has become the world’s fastest growing career website with a focus on talents and organisations who are striving for and contributing to a sustainable world. The service gathers opportunities from hundreds of international organisations around the world including all UN organisations, international financial institutions, the European Union and the most influential intergovernmental and Non-Governmental Organisations.

For talent seeking to break into this niche global marketplace, Impactpool provides a “shop window” on approaching 2500 daily-updated entry, mid-career and executive level appointments across (currently, and growing) 156 organisations. A single portal provides unique job search functionality. This is complemented by a dedicated and independent career coaching service provided by coaches with successful career records in the industry; I am honoured to be a part of this network. The organisational coverage is impressive covering an ever-expanding range of international, governmental, medical, justice, faith based, peacekeeping, and humanitarian and development organisations with current vacancies across the globe.

Alongside this dynamic slate of opportunities those who sign up to Impactpool have access to invaluable career guides. “Start Making a Difference” is a must-read providing an introduction to a career in international development. Experienced recruiters and HR specialists explain how to start your career in the sector, including what you need to know about educational requirements, relevant skills and experience, the differing organisation types, career tracks, and remuneration. The Impactpool authors share concrete, honest advice on how to approach your career strategically—from choosing the right jobs to apply for to positioning yourself in the best possible way for growth and advancement.

For experienced talent, “The Senior Assessment Guide” is an invaluable “preparation kit” to use when facing a UN assessment centre.  The eBook describes the different UN pools, how you get into them, how you are assessed, and how you finally get selected. These pools primarily target senior internal staff at the UN, but the Guide also describes how external leaders have successfully gained access to pools in the past.

Complementing this targeted Guide, Impactpool also publish general interview guides and question banks for those applying for international organisation careers, humanitarian and development sector roles. Regular summary articles highlight the beginning and flag up the closure of recruitment campaigns. Click for further information.

(The writer is an Impactpool Fellow).

Learning with Kaya

Kaya is the online learning platform of the Humanitarian Leadership Academy.

50,000 people from nearly 200 countries across the world are using Kaya to learn about humanitarian issues and action. On Kaya you will find online elearning and in-person workshops that will help you learn what you need to take you where you want to go, whether you are a professional humanitarian looking for career development, or a community member supporting the response to a crisis in your own country.

Kaya’s courses are grouped into learning pathways – combinations of online and in-person learning opportunities – that mean at the beginning of your learning journey you do not need to know exactly what you want to learn.

Within Kaya you will find:

  • Online elearning content
  • Videos
  • Documents and files

Information and registration for in-person events:

  • Workshops
  • Talks
  • Webinars (streamed film of events that you can access from your phone or computer)

Kaya is designed to be accessed from phones, tablets, laptops and PCs, so you can use it whenever and wherever you want.

You can search for a course through the Catalogue. This will show you individual courses as well as whole pathways of learning you can take part in. You can use the filters at the side to change the results you are shown.

Click on the result you are interested in to be taken to its page.  Join the course by clicking on the ‘Join’ button. On a mobile phone, this box will be underneath the course description. On a larger screen, it will be at the right of the page.

How much do the courses on Kaya cost?

All courses are entirely free, unless a course description specifically says otherwise – you will be able to find any cost information on the summary page of each course.

Investing In Transitions

Any bar room discussion where the word “transition” recurs is likely to be focused on the UK’s transition period due to kick in as the UK leaves the EU in March 2019. There are other, and we would say, equally complicated and life determining transitions that need to be made. As a former global talent leader with experience managing talent in over one hundred countries I consider that the education to work and training transition experiences offered to young people in the UK are letting down a generation. I am not alone in this.

A House of Lords select committee found, in February, that the apprenticeship system was “woefully inadequate”. The levy system, designed to ensure that three million people start an apprenticeship by 2020, is – on the evidence of new starts – actively repelling rather than encouraging employers to invest in apprenticeships.

Ofsted inspects the support system for apprenticeships: the colleges and training providers that offer the vocational training. They have concluded that 51% are either inadequate or needing improvement. Meantime, a January 2018 CIPD survey found that employers were actively engaged in “rebadging” training for existing employees as an apprenticeship in order to recoup the costs of the levy. The need for some agreed “red lines” here is clear.

Ethical trade addresses the ethical aspects of organisations including worker welfare. Many multinational organisations have adopted ethical trade policies that are policed by auditors monitoring the conditions of workers in their supply chains. Coherent with this good practice you might expect to find that, within the UK, there are no unpaid internships: you would be wrong. Between 70,000 and 100,000 unpaid internships are estimated to take place in the UK every year. Many of these young people work in London and certain industries have now established career entry routes that customarily rely on “serving an internship” as part of a threshold experience. Curious that, in years past, the commonplace phrase would have been “serving an apprenticeship” and yet today the legal status and, therefore, the remuneration – if any – due to an intern is a matter for the courts. When is an intern not an employee? Perhaps when they are a volunteer? Are they entitled to the National Minimum Wage: it depends.

Given all of this complexity, the House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility report “Overlooked and left behind” (April 2016) was surely correct in concluding that: “Every young person should have access to independent, impartial careers advice.” Careers education and guidance are important for social mobility. This is because knowing about the options available, and the skills needed to navigate those options, are a key part of a successful transition to work. The Education Act 2011, which made schools responsible for providing independent and impartial careers advice and guidance, also defined “independent” as “provided other than by a teacher employed or engaged at the school, or any other person employed at the school”. Impartial was defined as “showing no bias towards any education or work option”. Whilst these definitions are helpful, schools could be forgiven for being confused given that the same Act also removed their statutory duty to provide careers education!

Realistically, the funding and performance table system does not incentivise schools to give independent careers advice. It is hardly surprising that the House of Lords heard repeated testimony confirming what The Prince’s Trust told Peers, that: “schools have become increasingly focused on preparing for exams and less focused on preparing young people for the world of work.”

On the evidence so far cited, I would contend that the need for excellent, independent career advice based on a strong foundation of careers education is now more important than it has been for decades. For economic, social, mobility, skills, health and moral reasons we should be investing in helping young people make their transition from school to work because the dilemmas they face are huge.

How To Find Work You Love

Scott Dinsmore quit a job that made him miserable, and spent the next four years wondering how to find work that was joyful and meaningful. He shares what he learned in this deceptively simple talk about finding out what matters to you — and then getting started doing it.

Why you should listen

According to a Deloitte research study, over 80 per cent of people don’t enjoy their work.  Scott wanted to find out what it is that sets the twenty per cent apart: the people who do the passionate, world-changing work, that wake up inspired every day. Discover what he found out!

Sadly, in September 2015, three years after recording this TED talk, Scott was struck by a boulder as it tumbled down the 19,000-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro peak he was climbing  with his wife of five years as part of their adventure around the world. Scott was 33 when he died.

Why You Will Fail To Have A Great Career

In this funny and blunt talk, Larry Smith pulls no punches when he calls out the absurd excuses people invent when they fail to pursue their passions.

Why you should listen

Larry Smith is a professor of economics at University of Waterloo. A well-known storyteller and advocate for youth leadership, he has also mentored many of his students on start-up business management and career development. The most notable start-up he advised in its infancy is Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry.

Discussion about this blunt and challenging TED talk centres on what passion really means and costs but, as Carmine Gallo wrote in Forbes, what you will see here “in this TED Talk is essentially thirty years of Smith’s frustrations reaching a boiling point.” “Wasted talent is a waste I cannot stand,” and this talk is Smith’s response.

Challenging and – possibly – motivating too.