Transcribed from a Cape Talk podcast.
Many people are stuck in the same job for twenty years despite promises that they will be able to map out their career projectory internally. So, if you are; frustrated by this, have questions, or have difficulties you are undergoing in terms of what kind of conversations to have and how to have those conversations, what to do inside your company or in your sector of the economy, Frances Kazan is going to help you out to deal with these issues.
Eusebius: This conversation is one that is important because so many of us outsource our career paths to other people.
Frances: Yes, and we especially outsource to recruitment agencies.
Eusebius: Exactly. Whose responsibility is it to even map out a career path?
Frances: I think the first questions is, what is a career? And a lot of times people don’t realize that a career is what they have and what they are selling, it’s a product they are selling. So first they have to understand what they are selling and how they packed it together, and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. And as you said, most people outsource that to other people who don’t really care about you.
And the second thing is that; I think everyone is responsible for career pathing, from the person who has the career and the person who is hiring the person with the career. We do what we call pre-boarding, because we believe that before you even hire somebody, you ask them about all their strengths and weaknesses and then when you hire them you forget about all those things. Most companies do career pathing once a year and I don’t believe that that is a good system. For me, career pathing happens daily when you are giving people feedback and you are watching their progress.
Talented people, people who are ambitious, study hard and who want to get places, will move out of companies that don’t give them the opportunity to do something more. For example, if you are a young person who has a qualification in a company and the company feels that you are not very good at writing, so they don’t let you write reports. They should be saying, “Lets improve your email writing by giving you feedback as your email writing improves and give you simple reports until the point where you can write a very good report on your own.” Do that and you will keep your talent. Whereas companies who don’t do that have huge turnover of talent.
Eusebius: I want to invite listeners to call and tell me if they have career pathing conversations once a year. Frances is a brilliant no-nonsense expert in the field, which is why I’m glad we have been reunited. But I think for once you are being too nice. I think most companies probably don’t even do it once a year to be honest. I have only worked in the creative industries, I have seen people stuck in the same job in the creative industry; TV, radio, print. For literally ten plus years I have seen people being sub-editors without ever moving on. I have seen people being over-night radio presenters without ever moving on. Once in a lifetime someone might become program manager after a being a junior producer. But it’s the exception, it’s not routine.
Frances: Do they want to move on?
Eusebius: I don’t know.
Frances: I have a client who has told me that one of the guys picks the clips out of the staples. That’s his job, he doesn’t want to do anything else.
Eusebius: He’s content?
Frances: That’s what he wants. He wants a permanent contract with a little increment every year. He doesn’t want to learn anything else. So, it’s not everybody that wants to grow. Most people just want more money. So, its very important for the organization to understand the talent because people who are talented, people that use their talent (because everyone is talented but not everyone uses their talent) actually make a point of studying further, always keeping their skills up to date. Those are the ambitious people. And if you want those people, and if you think those people are going to help your organization grow, you must look after them because everybody wants them. And they are not in big supply. It’s not even about age, it’s about attitude, capability, capacity, commitment and confidence. When you have those things, you need to develop them because no matter how talented someone is, they can’t have all the skills that you need. So, you need to help them grow in the areas that you need.
Eusebius: Who should initiate this? If I go to my boss and say that there is a short course happening and that it will add value to this blind spot of mine. Do I go to my boss or is there a mutual responsibility between us?
Frances: Ideally it would be the boss. But you know, the boss is under a lot of pressure. This is why we help a lot of companies do it. Because they will send you to these conferences and courses but there is no one to actually get feedback. No one is asking, “How did it go?”, “Are you using any of those skills?”, or “Are you getting any better?” Practically speaking, it is very difficult to do this while you are trying to meet company goals. People like us come along and offer our services. Others have HR employees onboard who do that.
People will know when you take your job seriously because you’ll ask the right questions. It’s not only about sitting down and talking about your career, it’s about showing that you are willing to do whatever it takes to get to the next level.
Eusebius: Millennials in the modern work place often recent having to be that entrepreneurial and think that you are outsourcing the responsibility of their manager by saying you should take charge of your own career.
Frances: What happens with millennials, they have a problem bridging the gap between grad school and the workplace. In grad school people are paid to do things for you. When you go in to the workplace to have to give stuff. Millennials expect to be taught everything. They want someone to hold their hand. An organization has customers and they have requirements and you have to serve those customers at all times.
Eusebius: By definition, part of a career path will involve doing things that aren’t currently a skill set but are within reach. I’m going to then need to the support structure to get there. How do I get that?
Frances: Watch what other people are doing, help them do it and then take over. If you are serious about being someone of value, then you need to offer something of value. Academics are not going to make you successful. It is the application of the academics that is going to make you successful.
Customers and clients of every organization are starting to become a lot more demanding. If you want to be of value to your organization, find out what the customer problems are. If you sort out customer problems, you will grow in your career.
We can help you with these discussions, with helping you to get your thinking aligned. Give Paola or Ronell a call if you ready to map out your career.