Thursday, May 05, 2011

Career advice

I just finished reading William Bridges book Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change (3rd Edition). I can't believe I haven't blogged about this book, because it was pretty darn good. It is a great book for leaders of organizations. It's a business book (not necessarily a church leadership book), but the principles apply to anyone who deals with people. It was part of my required reading for the missional leadership initiative. The basic premise is - we live in a changing world... and change is not what causes us problems (there's nothing we can do about change anyway); but it's the transitions to change that cause us stress and affect our lives. So, while we can't stop change, we CAN learn to better navigate the transitions.

At any rate, at the end of the book he has an appendix he calls, 'Career Advice for Employees of Organizations in Transition.' While it's true that almost ALL organizations are in transition of some sort - even just the job-market itself is in transition - I thought this stuff was good for everybody. He calls it his "Five JobShift Steps," and this is a very brief overview, which is described in much more detail in his book Creating You & Co.: How to Think Like the CEO of Your Career.

He suggest we need to learn to think of ourselves not so much as "workers" but more as "free agents" (whether we work inside a company or not). So, the Five JobShift Steps are:
Step 1:
You start by finding out what resources you bring to anyone who needs some help. I urge you to think of those resources as being made up of four parts:
  • What you really want - because your Desires lead to powerful motivation. Wanting something a lot makes you work hard, and hard work is something that people need today.
  • Consider your Abilities. What are you good at?
  • What is your Temperament? What kind of activity are you naturally most suited to?
  • What are your Assets? What special knowledge or skill or experience, what contacts or qualifications (a certificate, a degree?), do you happen to have?
Together, Desires, Abilities, Temperament, and Assets represent the DATA that you bring to the table. They are your resources.

Step 2:
Then you have to survey and understand the "market" you are trying to serve: Who are the customers? What are they after? What are the problems these customers are trying to solve? What are the specifications for the desired products or services? You are going to have to learn something about the customers you are proposing to serve. It's take a little work, but all the better! That way you won't have so many people competing with you.

Step 3:
Next, you combine your DATA and the unmet needs you find in the market. This combination - call it "what-I-have-that-you-need" - is your "product." Your product is a solution to a particular customer problem, a way of getting a result that the customer can't presently get but that he or she wants to get. You are no longer an employee doing a job. You are more like an independent worker (who just happens to be an "employee" too) who is selling a product. Many times you'll find that the customer would be willing to pay more for your product than the company was paying you as a wage. Good deal! If you keep finding that to be true, you may have to reconsider your employee status.

Step 4:
If you start to see yourself as "selling a product" rather than "doing a job," you are in business for yourself, no matter whether you work inside the company or outside it. What business are you in - not your company's business but YOURS? You don't know? Well, don't feel too bad. Most of your fellow workers don't know either, so when you figure out the answer you'll have a head start on them.

Step 5:
If you are in business, you are a micro-company - even if you are technically an employee. Stop thinking about your career. Start thinking about your business's strategic plan. Where is "You & Co." headed? What resources does it need? How can it market its services, whether inside your employer or outside?

The Five JobShift Steps will shift your mindset from that of an employee who does a job to that of an independent worker who provides a customer with what he or she needs. You say you that doesn't fit your needs because you want to remain an employee? Fine. What do companies need today? Workers who will deliver the best possible service or product to their customer - that's what. And this is the way to deliver the best.

This isn't really a church-related entry, but I think this is good stuff for anyone who works any job (or wants to get a job). Anyway, take it for what it's worth. Just sharing. I hope William doesn't mind me posting this. I would HIGHLY recommend reading the Managing Transitions book, and it looks like this other one would be good too.

Peace out; and in.