Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Is Variety the Spice of Life? Change vs. Stability

With Spring finally here, change is in the air for many of us; however, we all may not be equally excited to see it.

We took a quick poll to see what our newsletter readers preferred: stability or change. An overwhelming majority (93%) preferred at least some change; 43% liked more stability than change, 27% liked more change than stability, and 23% could do without stability altogether, appreciating variety and new beginnings. Only 7% indicated a preference for stability and continuity.

Although change occurs in almost every facet of life, it sometimes feels like an unnatural process and can result feelings of anxiety and worry. Bridges proposed a three-stage model of transitions where, after experiencing a precipitating change, individuals work through (1) endings and (2) the neutral zone before reaching (3) the new beginning. Although “the neutral zone” is a time of uncertainty and confusion, it’s by working through this transitional phase that an individual can set/achieve new goals and begin to move forward toward the new beginning. Although stability can feel “nice” and “safe” it may lead to stagnation; changes can help you continuously strive for improvement.

According to one change-management website, change preferences are on a spectrum where “stability” and “change” are the endpoints and there are gradations of preferences in between the two. Problems arise when a stability-oriented person encounters rapidly changing circumstances or when a change-oriented person finds him or herself in a slow period with nothing new happening. Understanding our own change preferences, and those of others, can help us navigate the transition process more effectively.

If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living.
~ Gail Sheehy

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Recognizing the Importance of Professional Development – Taking and Making Time to Learn

This time last week I, and about 250 others, had just finished listening to an amazing “Day 2” keynote address given by Denise Bissonnette. For “Day 1” we’d been privileged to hear John Krumboltz. These two, and a host of others, presented at the BC Career Development Association’s 2012 Career Development Conference. Attendance was down this year, likely as a result of BC’s “Business Transformation” which has seen a number of agencies closing and Career Development Practitioners (CDPs) losing their jobs. Those who are working are in training and probably scrambling to be ready for the launch of new services on April 2nd. I’d guess that limited resources, which include time and money, drew many away from CDC 2012. This made me wonder, however . . . how many of us see the conference, and other professional development activities as something “nice to do” but an overall low priority vs. a “must attend” event? Clearly, I shouldn’t make assumptions about what stops someone from engaging in professional development but it is curious.

Given the huge changes in BC’s career development landscape how did people not “move mountains” to attend the conference? The networking opportunities, alone, can be a huge benefit for someone in transition. Taking this further, is it just the conference or an underlying reluctance to invest in our own lifelong learning? I remember one discussion, in particular, that had colleagues sharing comments they’d overheard; things like “Now that I’ve got theories and ethics I don’t have to take any more courses” or “Now that I’ve got a three year contract I’m not going to bother keeping my professional certification.” Again, a few comments aren’t likely representative of a full population but this isn’t new – several of us have noticed that some CDPs simply aren’t willing to make learning a higher priority.

According to the 2009 Pan-Canadian Mapping Study of the Career Development Sector, “access to professional training is the highest rated priority by CDPs for future directions needed in the sector” (p. 5) yet I’d suggest that much of this training already exists. The Career Development Chapter of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association recently updated an inventory of career training programs that are available across the country and/or online. So, if the challenge is lack of awareness, this resource would go a long way in solving that problem. The other challenges that I’ve heard relate to time and money; we’ve developed two tip sheets to help with those (1) 10 Tips to Fit Professional Development into a Busy Life  and (2) 10 Tips to Stretch Your Professional Development Dollars.

So, I challenge everyone to find some way to invest in your own professional development this year. Read a book then pass that learning on through a blog post, take a webinar (see our series to support the Where’s the Work? project ), take an active role in a LinkedIn group like Careers Debate, find a conference, or take a course. Sometimes all it takes is a willingness to spend the time and it is worth investing in your own career! Good luck and let us know how you make out.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Where’s the Work? Helping Career Practitioners Explore Their Career Options

Life Strategies Ltd. was honoured to be awarded a 2012 Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF) Building for the Future Endowment Fund in support of the Where’s the Work? Helping Career Practitioners Explore their Career Options project. To support the development of a series of webinars and workbook, we surveyed Career Development Practitioners (CDPs) to find out where they’re working now, what alternative work settings they may be interested in, and how prepared they are to work outside of “traditional” settings.

We found an abundance of CDPs working in the government-funded setting with most respondents agreeing that this represented the “traditional” workplace. Survey respondents expressed interest in learning about many other work environments including Business / Corporations, Private Practice / Self‐Employment, Education (Post‐Secondary), Recruiting / Placement, International / Global Career Services, and Government (Policy / Program Development).

When considering level of preparedness for working outside of the traditional setting, the majority of respondents reported they were personally prepared (at least somewhat) but didn’t believe the average CDP was as prepared as they were. Could this truly represent higher levels of personal preparedness or is it simply an overestimate, a blind spot, for many CDPs?

Interested in learning more? Click here to read our preliminary report.

We are hosting a 3-part webinar series that will introduce the Where’s the Work? project, review our research, and help career practitioners explore alternative work roles and settings.

Click here to learn more about the project and the upcoming webinars. Please note: space in the webinars is limited so register early.