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29 September, 2011 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management
4 comments

Career Management In Complicated Times

Posted September 29th, 2011 | Author: John G. Self

In a rapidly changing global economic environment with high long-term unemployment likely, regardless of who controls the levers of power in Washington, the value of career planning is in the spotlight. 

There are basically two schools of thought:

 1.  It is a waste of time.  No one can predict the future — new technologies, business realignments and the resulting job losses, or opportunities that will emerge amidst the chaos.

 2. It is invaluable.  Career planning requires a sense of focus and discipline that is essential to navigate the opportunities and multiple pitfalls in the New Normal economy.

I vote for option number two.  I am not engaged in career coaching or outplacement businesses so I have nothing to gain from advocating for the value that is inherent in the career planning process.  In fact, I cannot imagine entering the workforce today without a plan for my professional life.

I freely admit that there are thousands upon thousands of stories of people who have enjoyed a rewarding, interesting, varied and prosperous career following what I call the opportunistic pathway; moving from job to job without knowing what new professional adventure next week, next month or next year will bring. But that was then and this is a competitive, unpredictable now.

As a matter of disclosure, I must that admit that I qualify for membership in the  “I Had No Plan Or Clue” class.  I began my career before I graduated from college, working for a daily newspaper.  From there, my career took me to Lubbock and Houston where I worked as an editor and writer.  I left the news business for public relations at Houston’s Hermann Hospital.  From there I became the first director of Life Flight, to the national marketing manager of the helicopter company, to acquisitions for an investor-owned hospital management company, back to Hermann to lead the start-up of a multi-hospital affiliated program, to a senior executive post responsible for business development for the hospital management company, to forming my own consulting firm, back to the town where I grew up to run home infusion pharmacy, correctional health businesses (not all at once), EMS, and then to be the general manager of an international nurse recruitment agency before leaving to form a recruiting firm and, finally, to forming my current executive search firm, JohnGSelf Associates, Inc.  And I did it all without a plan, an approach that I would not think about recommending in today.

My experiences – and my amazing luck – led me to the realization that career planning is no different than strategic planning for a business in which you are constantly adjusting strategy and tactics to address changing market threats and opportunities.

Career planning provides a framework for discipline and focus that will allow an individual to maximize their professional potential.

Is it a waste of time?  Not a chance. 

There are thousands upon thousands of people who trusted that everything would work out, professionally speaking.  It did not.

Not to sound glib, but luck is not a good career management strategy. 

© 2011 John Gregory Self

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4 comments

  1. JohnGSelf says:

    The DiSC(c) is an excellent tool, but it is just ONE tool. You should also assess what you think your strengths and developmental needs are and engage colleagues or friends who know you at work to get their perspective. You may want to take the DiSC(c) from a vendor who will also share their professional insights.
    Other things you will want to consider:
    Personal vision statement — where do you want to be professionally, personally.
    Journaling – Golfers, tennis players and other athlete’s practice almost daily to perfect their game. But what do leaders practice to get better? Thoughtful — regulated — thought. Think critically about you key decisions, how you could have improved the decision and communication process, and then plan to improve your processes and interactions with colleagues and direct reports. Right it down — not the self congratulatory crap, but critical insights….
    Learning – Great leaders are always learning, from reading to professional development seminars. I am not big into the motivational pep rally self-help meetings. OK maybe one or two, but after that there must be more substance to the learning. I provide a reading list on the blog. I am currently reading Talent Masters — Ram Charan and Bill Conaty — who discuss how great companies approach their human capital needs. I just finished a historical piece — Berlin 1961: Kennedy Khrushchev and the Most Dangerous City in the World, great insights into how two supposed bright people bungled their way to avoiding war. This book shows what happens when people miscalculate. There are some other good reads on the list. But commit to lifelong learning.
    Finally, decide what is important in your personal life. Marriage, family? Balance those issues with your professional goals. If you aspire to be at the top of a major organization, your climb will require long hours and much sacrifice. There is a price to pay. I am always amused and amazed when people nod their heads and then are frustrated or surprised when they actually have to make those hard decisions, as if they were immune to the realities.
    Good luck.

  2. JohnGSelf says:

    The DiSC(c) is an excellent tool, but it is just ONE tool. You should also assess what you think your strengths and developmental needs are and engage colleagues or friends who know you at work to get their perspective. You may want to take the DiSC(c) from a vendor who will also share their professional insights.
    Other things you will want to consider:
    Personal vision statement — where do you want to be professionally, personally.
    Journaling – Golfers, tennis players and other athlete’s practice almost daily to perfect their game. But what do leaders practice to get better? Thoughtful — regulated — thought. Think critically about you key decisions, how you could have improved the decision and communication process, and then plan to improve your processes and interactions with colleagues and direct reports. Right it down — not the self congratulatory crap, but critical insights….
    Learning – Great leaders are always learning, from reading to professional development seminars. I am not big into the motivational pep rally self-help meetings. OK maybe one or two, but after that there must be more substance to the learning. I provide a reading list on the blog. I am currently reading Talent Masters — Ram Charan and Bill Conaty — who discuss how great companies approach their human capital needs. I just finished a historical piece — Berlin 1961: Kennedy Khrushchev and the Most Dangerous City in the World, great insights into how two supposed bright people bungled their way to avoiding war. This book shows what happens when people miscalculate. There are some other good reads on the list. But commit to lifelong learning.
    Finally, decide what is important in your personal life. Marriage, family? Balance those issues with your professional goals. If you aspire to be at the top of a major organization, your climb will require long hours and much sacrifice. There is a price to pay. I am always amused and amazed when people nod their heads and then are frustrated or surprised when they actually have to make those hard decisions, as if they were immune to the realities.
    Good luck.

  3. Rob Wane says:

    I am considering DISC tests and tools for me to assess my self more and an in depth understanding to my capabilities and weaknesses will be a good tool for change and development.

  4. Rob Wane says:

    I am considering DISC tests and tools for me to assess my self more and an in depth understanding to my capabilities and weaknesses will be a good tool for change and development.

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