Is it time to rethink how we manage our careers?

Wed 24 May 2017 02:32:00 PM EEST

This article was first published by Career Star Group. You can read the article also here ».

Fulfilment, purpose and meaning are the core ingredients to a happy and successful career. However, we all know that careers are changing at a rate of knots. According to the news, robots are set to steal our jobs; for many of us, our current roles won’t exist in five years’ time; and as for skills, we’re all going to have to retrain in preparation for the skills demanded of jobs that don’t yet exist. So given this context, is career fulfilment possible or are we going to wear ourselves out searching for it?

Flicking through a magazine recently, I came across an article that really resonated with me; the article outlined how we should adopt a more flexible approach to career management. Written by Jenny Blake, an author, consultant and speaker, it focused on ‘pivoting’; changing direction when needed in the pursuit of building rewarding and fulfilling careers, and is based on the early strategy adopted by many of the now giants of Silicon Valley.

Underpinning the approach is an openness to changing direction from time to time, and not viewing such diversions as failures, but as opportunities to further your career, experience new things and learn skills that will ultimately strengthen your career.

When you consider this in the context of careers today, it’s sound advice. Flatter structures, constant change and less-visible development opportunities have made the notion of the long-term career plan almost obsolete. Yet the reality is that we’re all going to be working longer, so we need to think about what this means for us, and for our careers. We need to think about the long haul, and all its twists and turns.

Whether it’s a business looking at how it can develop its people and build an agile workforce capable of responding to changing environments, or an individual thinking about where he or she wants to be, the reality is that we need to rethink our approach to career development and focus on fulfilment and personal growth, rather than the fastest route between points A and B. Because let’s face it, it’s getting harder to go in a straight line, and fixating on one path will undoubtedly result in missing out on enriching experiences, or worse, becoming frustrated when things aren’t happening the way we’d planned them.

On an individual basis, ‘pivoting’ doesn’t mean flitting directionless between jobs every few years. It’s more structured than that. It’s about self-awareness. It’s about effectively managing your career. It’s about knowing when you’re ready to develop new skills that will ultimately get you to where you want to go. It’s about mindset and recalibrating your approach, not allowing the desire of the ‘perfect’ career or ‘perfect next move’ to translate into career paralysis, but being more flexible and open to seizing opportunities, tweaking and adjusting as you go.

For businesses, this also means adapting how we discuss career development with our employees. Helping them to understand how careers have, and continue to, change. Outlining how they can develop successful and fulfilling careers within the organisation, whilst making them aware of the skills, such as adaptability, that they need to develop to enable them to ‘pivot’ with the business as needs change.

Given the complexity and the uncertainty surrounding the future of work, this approach to ‘pivoting’ makes absolute sense and would certainly deliver greater alignment between organisational and individual objectives. After all, if it worked for the giants of Silicon Valley, why can’t it work for all of us?

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