Career owner in the making

During lunch with two friends today, we caught up on current work mindsets. Sue was feeling great—she just returned from a four day renewal in Vegas; I was eager and energized by a new project; and Laurie was up in the air. She was about a month into a new position and was ok with it but not excited. Turns out that she was moved into a position that doesn’t use her strengths, and she was making the best of it. Her question: what do you do when the organization moves you in a direction that isn’t where you want to go?

Laurie had actually interviewed for a position a few months ago that was aligned with her desired direction but didn’t get it. It was one that would have taken her back to the field, where she is experienced and has done great work. So she’s stuck in her thinking: she wanted to go one way and the organization moved her in another; she is looking at her current spot as “a learning experience,” but that’s putting her best spin on a challenging situation. Thus, her question.

She’s been with the organization for 15 years, so has accepted the culture and how things get done. She knows her talents very well, and knows where she can make an impact. She has, maybe, 60% engagement in the work she’s doing…and it’s at that level because she’s still on the learning curve. Once she gets more comfortable with the work, her engagement will decrease and she’ll still get the job done. It works that way with most employees every day.

What kind of contribution could she make if she were completely connected to her work, if she were using her talents and aligning her intellect and her commitment to the organization?

Laurie knows very well and is going after that very thing.

She is re-energized about defining her path inside the organization…she loves the industry and knows how she can make a difference. She is reviewing her professional development agenda created several years ago during her MBA program. She is looking around to see how and where she can use her strengths, and is focused on doing so. She is renewing connections with past mentors and looking to clarify her knowledge of the organization’s growth plans. She is seeking to identify a sponsor or two, and get included in projects that will challenge her, grow her skills and use her talents to make a difference. Along the way, she is building and making her business case for strategically-defined career moves.

Laurie has the beginnings of a plan for invigorating her career direction, one that is a true learning experience…where her emotional connection will intensify the learning such that the organization will reap tremendous results. She is electrified by the possibility that she can own her career, that she can set direction and see positive results for both her and the organization.

How about you…are you stuck? Going in a direction that doesn’t quite fit, or that you don’t care about? What’s holding you back, keeping you from going after your best work? Let me know and we’ll take a look at what’s getting in your way and, if you’re willing to do the work, how to intentionally move beyond it.

Hello world!

The grass doesn’t have to be greener somewhere else!

At some point, everyone looks for another position, another job, another way to spend the hours between sleep and play.  The ‘grass is always greener’ syndrome is one that some folks spend years with, always looking for that place where the work is better, more satisfying, more…something, even if they don’t know exactly what.

This space is for Career Owners–those who create their work, the environment, the path that is better and more satisfying. Career owners are ususally thought of as entrepreneurs and business owners…and they are. But this space fosters a broader idea of ownership, and includes every individual who takes responsibility for his or her work, particularly those within organizations.

As we’ve moved away from the top-down, assembly line work of the industrial economy, organizations are doing limited or no career planning because the old definition of career doesn’t work anymore. Little stays the same, and careers in the service and information economy need a continual stream of upgraded knowledge, skills and capabilities. A career path isn’t defined any longer by tenure, dues paid or natural next steps and in most organizations is defined informally or not at all.  So for individuals to continue to lease or rent their careers is a poor investment of, literally, their time and their # 1 financial asset. But long-held beliefs and comfort with a paternalistic environment make this move a challenging one for most.

Career owners are those who have or who want to take responsibility for defining their best work direction, one that aligns with their talents and authenticity.  Career owners inside organizations are able to support both their own best direction as well as the direction of the organization. While the process for taking ownership is challenging, it is not difficult and the possible outcomes have broad-reaching benefits.

How could organizations compete in the global economy with “all brains on deck”? When innovation and collaboration are not just supported but encouraged, when individuals are respected for their talents and contributions and when every person owns the outcomes, the emotional connection to the significance of the work drives excellence. Challenged, engaged workers create satisfied customers who drive business success.

Over the next weeks and months, we invite career owners and especially those who want to become career owners to visit us, post responses, opinions and questions and open a dialog that empowers those who want to take responsibility to do so.  We hope that human resources and talent management folks jump into the discussions and help identify forces within organizations that provide impediments as well as support for employee career ownership. For our part, we’ll outline and discuss the building blocks of career ownership and steps, approaches and thoughts on how to use those blocks to move forward.

We’re excited to get started, and to help people with the desire and the commitment to truly own their career paths. When you grow your own green(er) grass, there is little reason to be frustrated, bored or powerless.  You have the security, the challenge and satisfaction of work that feeds your soul, and a certainty and pride that your work matters. Organizations get your energy, your creativity, your best work and the respect that comes from a valuable partnership.

Here’s to doing work you love…