The Agile Career Today

In days gone by a career path was linear, there was a hierarchy to work your way up and a perceived sideways or backward step could be seen as a failure. Today careers are varied and ever moving, what we like to refer to as “agile”. The hierarchical ladder is less common; instead, we look at acquiring experiences for career growth and development.

So often we see technically brilliant people move into management or leadership positions because that’s the road most travelled, whether they have the desire or skills to fulfil that type of role or not. As we experience skill shortages in New Zealand smart leaders are addressing the need to challenge staff by matching their motivated skills with development opportunities that meet key business objectives as well as staff future aspirations.   

An agile career path is about uncovering opportunities that will help you towards your goals in a less linear fashion. Ideally, these will also benefit the business you’re working in as opportunities are identified and proactively pursued.

When considering career steps, it is important to think widely about the options. Here are some options to reflect upon.

Current Role: remain in place

For now, your current role gives you enough growth opportunities to remain fit and challenged.

Realign: move down

Personal priorities, health and other worklife balance issues may require considering contributions to your organisation that demand less responsibility – short or long term.

Enhance: grow current role

This option involves growing your key skills and interest areas by taking on more of what positively challenges you and negotiating out of tasks that no longer motivate you.

Relocate: move business unit/area

Uncovering options in different business areas that will use or build upon your current skills and knowledge base.  It may be this shift provides increased future career opportunities.  This option may require a geographical shift.

Vertical: stepping up

Seeking roles or functions with more responsibility, directed towards your career path.

Redirect: uncover a new path

Changing career path with your current employer may involve utilising your industry knowledge base within a different field.  This option is likely to involve re-training or seeking new qualifications.

Explore: look around

Involves seeking opportunities within your organisation to test out areas of interest that fit your profile.  These may include project work or a secondment that give you the freedom to try without commitment.

Propose: create new horizons

After consultation with decision-makers, submit a business case for creating a new role or function that fits you and benefits your employer.

Lateral: step across

This option gives you an opportunity to extend your current skills and knowledge base within a new role that is at a similar level and responsibility. 

External: move out

Seeking a better career fit outside the organisation or an entrepreneurial opportunity that fits your desired future.

As an individual considering the next step in your career, take time to reflect on what you really enjoy in your work and what you want to do less of. Look for options outside the traditional and be agile,  creating connections to new experiences and growth opportunities that pave the way to that career designed for you, by you. The support of an objective career coach can be hugely useful in the pursuit of these plans.

Has your recent engagement survey revealed staff want more support with career development? Or maybe you’ve discovered the need for career development conversations in retrospect, when a valued team member has already made a decision to leave your organisation?  

Career planning and development conversations are critical, yet managers often avoid them due to a lack of expertise in facilitating such a conversation. Experienced leaders use career planning to help retain talented people who want to progress. Losing talent is costly to the business. Longer term, people may move on but the business has benefited in the meantime plus built a supportive and empowered culture. Such cultures are comprised of agile people who look for ways to achieve business objectives while developing their own careers.

Contact us to discuss how we can work with you to provide the essential tools and expertise managers need for taking the lead around those critical career conversations. As experienced career coaches we provide objectivity, key resources and strategic thinking that benefits both individuals and organisations.  

Succession Planning - Workforce Transition

Succession Planning - Workforce Transition

Managing an Ageing Workforce - An Organisational and Personal Perspective

Helping organisations to consider the latter stages of an individual's career.  We support your people through a planned transition and prepare the business to manage the change in ways that minimise disruption.

Strategic Career Management is a Process, not an Event

"Why would anyone want to manage their career when they have a job?"

A sound Career Management process is about taking active steps that demonstrate leadership of one’s own career.  This means expecting and supporting team members to develop an understanding of their transferable skills and what they have to offer the organisation and profession.  It involves individuals taking a regular audit of their competencies and taking responsibility for targeted learning and development.

As a manager or leader, when you demonstrate sound career management principles, you create opportunities to significantly influence employee engagement, team performance and the functions they perform for the practice. 

To enable you to support employees to take personal responsibility for identifying development opportunities that are aligned with performance feedback and organisational objectives, a career management partnership framework is just the thing!

Working in Partnership

Ever wondered what the missing link between the, often dreaded, performance review process and real outcomes is? 

We all put time aside to fill out the forms and schedule time for the meetings but often, the practical link between business objectives and performance and development is weak, at best.  In fact, if you are like many managers, by the time you get to the development section, time is rapidly running out.  You may ask the question, “What training do you want to do this year?”  Of course we all know that “training” is only one way to learn and we should be investing more time into exploring a range of learning options to best fit the situation, the individual and the strategies of the organisation.  You might be saying to yourself, “I have enough trouble managing my own career, how can I do this for all my employees?”  This is where a sound methodology to career management comes in; you set up the framework and the expectations for everyone to take responsibility for their own career management.

The results of implementing a well-constructed career management framework include employee commitment to reflection, research and preparation that make development sessions and regular coaching meaningful for the individual, the whole team and the strategies of the practice.

An organisational career management framework is illustrated below.

Career Management Partnership Framework 

The framework above is critical to embedding a culture where everyone takes responsibility for managing their own career.  The integration of the partnership approach benefits all involved, supporting team members to contribute to the objectives of the work environment while gaining valuable professional development opportunities.  Supporting team members to gain knowledge and skill in career management techniques prepares them to deal with the inevitable changes, multiple trends and uncertainty of the world of work today.

This type of approach doesn’t just benefit the individual but, more often than not, provides the business with a motivated and engaged employee for longer. It may mean they keep their knowledge and skills in the business while they develop skills for a future step, instead of leaving to find it somewhere else. People in today’s workforce are interested in their career progression and personal development, so supporting them with ongoing conversations and structure will nurture happier, self-responsible employees. They may not only stay in the business for longer, but contribute to a positive employer brand -  which in the long run means you get the best people into the business during recruitment.

If you’re interested in getting a career management framework set up within your business contact one of the Vargo + Lewis team at contact@vargolewis.co.nz and we’ll set up a time to have a chat over a coffee.