Want To Fail In Your Job? Here’s How!
October 29, 2020
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How to fail gracefully

There are many ways to falter at work or in your job search, including taking setbacks personally, focusing on perfectionism and shunning advice from a friend or coworker.

“It’s important to have a mind of your own and march to your own drum, but don’t be a know-it-all,” writes workplace author Bryan Robinson. 

Full Story: Forbes

How to Address (and Overcome) Damaging Internalized Biases

When you are unaware of self-limiting beliefs, your most fitting career choice will likely remain out of reach.

BY ANDREA S. KRAMER AND ALTON B. HARRIS5 MINUTE READ

We normally think of stereotypes as preconceived ideas we have about other people because of their gender, race, domestic situation, or other social identity.

However, we also have stereotypes about ourselves because of our own social identities. Thus, we are likely to unconsciously hold assumptions about our own skills, available opportunities, and appropriate goals. These assumptions are the result of the gender stereotypes we have internalized throughout our lives. Unfortunately, these stereotype-driven assumptions frequently foster negative preconceptions about our abilities and prospects, creating what we refer to as self-limiting biases. For example, as a woman, you tell yourself you are not good at math, or computer science is not an appropriate pursuit for you, or negotiation would not fit your abilities. And as a man, you might think you are not good at emotional expression, or nursing is not an appropriate pursuit, or you would be a poor human resources manager.

Negative assumptions like these can cause you to restrict the type of activities you pursue, circumscribe the possibilities you believe are open to you, and make you anxious and uncertain when faced with new tasks or ones about which you doubt your ability.

Take one well-documented phenomenon: Men typically apply for jobs when they meet approximately 60% of the stated job criteria, but women typically won’t apply until they feel they meet 100% of the criteria.

Women’s hesitancy in such situations is due, in part, to uncomfortable feelings associated with hirers scrutinizing their abilities; they feel more comfortable when the requested abilities are precisely the ones they possess. For the same reason, women often choose career assignments and positions that involve less risk, lower visibility, fewer challenges, and less responsibility than those chosen by their male colleagues—all situations which reflect instances of self-limiting bias.

STEREOTYPE THREAT

The concept of “stereotype threat” is often the trigger for self-limiting bias. For example, a stereotype threat is at play if a woman becomes anxious or uncertain about her abilities when expected to perform a task around which there are strong male stereotypes—say, one calling for leadership, competition, or self-promotion. Likewise, stereotype threat might cause a woman to be uncomfortable and apprehensive in a situation in which gender is highly salient—say, negotiating against a man, leading a team composed primarily of men, or being one of only a few women in a large meeting (whether virtual or in person). And stereotype threat is likely to be the primary cause when a woman believes—unconsciously—that her gender takes her out of running for certain career pursuits (roles in engineering, investment banking, or construction come to mind), which are not “right” for her like other roles (such as careers in teaching, publishing, and fashion) may be.

Another example, if a woman believes women are not particularly skilled negotiators but adequate administrators, she is less likely to volunteer to work on a major merger or acquisition over offering to, perhaps, develop a new employee training system.

SELF-LIMITING BIAS AND GENDER SEGREGATION

The substantial gender segregation among job types in America is frequently attributed to the “demand side” of the process, such as employers’ decisions about whom they will hire, welcome into the fold, and later advance in the company.

There is some recent evidence, however, that “supply-side” factors play a role. That is, women’s and men’s personal decisions about where they want to work and what they want to work at contribute to this segregation. For example, 80% of social workers are women but only 15% of computer programmers are. Unquestionably. this is not entirely the result of demand-side factors. Past research studies appear to bear this conclusion out. Women MBA graduates were found to be far less likely to apply for jobs in finance and consulting than were comparably credentialed men. The researchers concluded that the women’s choices were due in large part to their concluding finance and consulting were not “appropriate” for them because of the strong male stereotypes associated with these pursuits.

COMBATTING SELF-LIMITING BIAS

We are pointing out the existence of extreme gender career segregation not to suggest that some career pursuits are better than others but to alert you to the need to think carefully about whom you are and whom you want to be before making serious career choices. You should be certain these career choices are not being inappropriately limited by internalized stereotypes and misgivings about your abilities simply because of your gender. To keep you from unnecessarily limiting your career choices and advancement opportunities, here are some helpful techniques to take on.

  1. Do a self-analysis. First of all, it is essential to understand when and why you experience threats around stereotypes. If you can recognize the presence of stereotype threat, you will realize the anxiety you are experiencing has nothing to do with your lack of ability and is more about your personal preconceptions. In this way, you will transform your anxiety from self-doubt to something more akin to stage fright, which can become a source of energy, heightened awareness, and improved performance.
  2. Take differences out. A second thing you can do to combat self-limiting bias is to view situations in which gender is highly salient through a nongendered lens. Don’t think, “I am the only woman in this meeting,” but something like, “I am one of only two MBAs in this meeting” or “I am the most experienced person for this job.” In other words, in these situations,  think about your strengths, background, and potential—not  your gender.
  3. Humor yourself. Finally, keep in mind that a sense of humor is always a useful coping method to self-limiting bias. By bringing humor to difficult, unfamiliar, or just plain uncomfortable situations, you can diminish your negative emotional reactions and increase your performance capabilities.Using humor to cope with self-limiting bias is not about laughing the situation off, but rather cultivating an attitude that sees gender stereotypes not just as discriminatory and limiting, but slightly ridiculous, too. For there is something truly laughable about anyone believing in the 21st century that women are poor negotiators, lack ambition, or cannot be effective leaders. When you can see the absurdity of gender stereotypes, around your own gender and those of the opposite, you are far better able to reimagine uncomfortable and stressful choices as opportunities not dangers.

By being aware of your own internalized stereotypes, as well as how to fight these problematic limitations, you can unlock more activities you want to pursue, reduce personal anxiety, and discover more about yourself.


Andie Kramer and Al Harris are communication and gender bias experts, and the authors of BREAKING THROUGH BIAS: Communication Techniques for Women to Succeed at Work and It’s Not You, It’s the Workplace: Women’s Conflict at Work and the Bias That Built It. They have spent more than 30 years helping women advance in their careers through writing, speaking, and mentoring.

Career Planning – A Four Step Planning Process

Career planning is an ongoing process that can help you manage your learning and development. The following four-step planning process can be used by those still at school, a school leaver, an adult adding on skills or an adult changing your job or career.

Career planning is the continuous process of:

  • thinking about your interests, values skills and preferences; exploring the life, work and learning options available to you; ensuring that your work fits with your personal circumstances; and
  • continuously fine-tuning your work and learning plans to help you manage the changes in your life and the world of work.

You can revisit and make use of this process all the way through your career.

Start At The Step That Is Most Relevant For You Now.

The career planning process has four steps:

Step 1: Knowing Yourself 

Step 2: Finding Out

Step 3: Making Decisions 

Step 4: Taking Action

STEP 1: KNOWING YOURSELF

Begin by thinking about where you are now, where you want to be and how you’re going to get there.

Once you have thought about where you are at now and where you want to be, you can work on getting to know your skills, interests and values.

Begin by asking yourself the following questions: 

Where am I at now?

Where do I want to be?

What do I want out of a job or career? 

What do I like to do?

What are my strengths? 

What is important to me?

At the end of this step, you will have a clearer idea of your work or learning goal and your individual preferences. You can use this information about yourself as your personal ‘wish list’ against which you can compare all the information you gather in Step 2: finding out.

Your personal preferences are very useful for helping you choose your best option at this point in time, which you can do in Step 3: making decisions.

STEP 2: FINDING OUT

This step is about exploring the occupations and learning areas that interest you. Once you have some idea ofyour occupational preferences you can research the specific skills and qualifications required for those occupations.

Explore occupations that interest you and ask yourself how do my skills and interests match up with these occupations?

Where are the gaps?

What options do I have to gain these skills or qualify for these occupations? 

What skills do I need?

Where is the work?

At the end of this step, you will have a list of preferred occupations and/or learning options.

STEP 3: MAKING DECISIONS

This step involves comparing your options, narrowing down your choices and thinking about what suits you best at this point in time.

Ask yourself:

What are my best work/training options?

How do they match with my skills, interests and values? 

How do they fit with the current labour market?

How do they fit with my current situation and responsibilities? 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option? 

What will help and what will hinder me?

What can I do about it?

At the end of this step, you will have narrowed down your options and have more of an idea of what you need to do next to help you achieve your goals.

STEP 4: TAKING ACTION

Here you plan the steps you need to take to put your plan into action.

Use all you have learnt about your skills, interests and values together with the information you have gathered about the world of work to create your plan.

Begin by asking yourself:

What actions/steps will help me achieve my work, training and career goals? 

Who will support me?

At the end of this step you will have:

  • A plan to help you explore your options further (eg work experience, work shadowing or more research); or 
  • a plan which sets out the steps to help you achieve your next learning or work goal.

Decide which step is relevant for you right now and start from there.

ViewPoint: This is Why Career Plans are Bad for Employees
March 4, 2020
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By STACEY ENGLE

growth plan

Organizations must prioritize professional development if they want to retain talent. It’s that clear cut and simple.

This statement was controversial 10 years ago, but thank goodness it is more accepted today. Most leaders at some level will say yes, true, we need to provide professional development. 

However, what is still quite controversial is demanding leaders to have growth conversations that put employees in the driver’s seat.

Let me be clear: many leaders encourage employees to be accountable for their own development, but it is a much different ball game when leaders have employees choose to drive and step into their own development. 

According to GALLUP, 87 percent of millennials and 69 percent of non-millennials rate professional or career growth and development opportunities as important to them in a job. Yet according to CEB, 70 percent of employees are dissatisfied with their company’s growth options and choices.

Here’s the thing — what’s often missing from the career path conversation is an emphasis on allowing the individual to plot their own course of growth. Asking the right questions. Creating pre-planned paths for development can be beneficial for sparking ideas and providing options.

But, it’s important that the individual’s vision for themselves be the primary driver behind the plan.

Here’s a great example: I will never forget at our 2017 Fierce Summit, Brian Canlis, special guest and OWNER OF CANLIS RESTAURANT, shared what he asks candidates during the interview process:

“How would being an employee at Canlis help you become the person you want to be?”

This question shifts the context of growth to where it becomes driven by the individual and their vision of who they want to become, rather than what they want to become. The who refers to the human being behind the work. And the answer is different for everyone.

How to Shift Your Growth Context

To some extent, integrating a self-driven approach will require organizations to REDEFINE WHAT GROWTH MEANS because it can be interpreted differently to others.

For example, growth isn’t always about promotions or gaining more knowledge in a particular area. Asking the question “who do you want to be?” is going to elicit a lot of varying responses.

A potential reality we need to keep in mind as leaders in the DEVELOPMENT CONVERSATION is that those we’re coaching may not know where they’re going or who they want to be. 

When encouraging them to plot their own growth, some employees will know exactly who they want to become, while some will only have a vague idea. And others won’t have a clue. 

Sample growth paths can be helpful in this area by providing a possible avenue. If employees don’t have a clue, sharing so different paths and explorations can be the biggest gift of all. 

As leaders, we need to meet employees where they are. Providing sample growth paths that increase skills and accountability over time is important. 

However, it is dangerous to assume that if individuals are provided with the right tools, that they will somehow follow specific paths. Exit interviews often reveal these types of disconnects. 

A great example is a conversation I had recently with a young executive leader at a Fortune 500 company. He shared with me that he felt he had been given every development opportunity and resource to get to the next level of his career. That’s great, right?

Enthusiastically, I asked him how he felt about it all. To my surprise, he told me that he wasn’t sure the level his company wants him to attain is what he actually desires. 

Worse yet, he said he feels his leaders aren’t responding to what he wants to build at the company, and instead he said they talk like “I owe them something” because an investment has been made in him. Woah. Talk about a disconnect. 

In plotting a course of growth, plans obviously need to be intentional or they will fail. However, sample growth plans run the risk of being too prescriptive if we become attached to them

People don’t know what they don’t know, so it’s important for organizations to walk the line of providing potential growth paths and being open to alternative paths that will naturally unfold when the individual is made an agent of their own growth. 

Overly-prescriptive pathing is also a hindrance for organizations that want to be more innovative — it doesn’t work for people, and it doesn’t work for business.

One way to encourage employees to be an agent of their own development is to have them look for areas of opportunity that will help organizations be more agile. Too often the people deciding what that path is for business aren’t as close to the front lines of the problems, and these people need to be seeking the perspectives of those who actually are. 

The front lines may be able to forecast job positions that aren’t needed now but may be needed in three to four years to come. Being aware of this potential need could provide additional growth options.

How Leaders Can Support a Self-Driven Path

Okay, so if I still have your attention, the natural progression is to ask: How do I shift the organizational mindset? I’d start with all people leaders. They need to be asking their teams:

“In what ways do you want to grow, and how can we fit that into the needs of the business?”

An important part of creating a growth plan is having a real, authentic conversation with yourself. Writing a stump speech is a great way to do this. Have your team members answer the following questions for themselves:

  • Where are you going?
  • Why are you going there?
  • Who is going with you?
  • How are you going to get there?

Keep in mind that not everyone will have an answer to these questions, and you must communicate upfront that it’s perfectly fine to not know. The main benefit of posing these questions is to ignite their thinking around growth and begin exploring possibilities together.

Whether an individual is certain or uncertain about the direction they want to go, having the right growth conversations will stimulate thinking and set their development on a positive trajectory.

One of the best ways to facilitate growth is to ask, “In what areas would you like to gain new responsibilities or grow your skills?” Then begin delegating new tasks in these areas. 

Skilful DELEGATION is, in essence, a growth conversation. With this approach, newly-assigned decision-making opportunities become exciting and can potentially create more clarity in an individual’s growth plan. 

It’s important for leaders to AVOID DELE-DUMPING, an ineffective delegation style where leaders assign tasks without consulting their team members. Dele-dumping often leads to stress instead of growth.

Another immediate way to support employees on their path of growth is to take an ongoing approach to FEEDBACK. When an employee is successful, acknowledge them right then and there so they can gain more awareness of the areas where they excel. 

When things aren’t going so well, explore what they are seeing so they have an early opportunity to respond and learn. If feedback conversations are saved for bi-annual or annual reviews, employees completely miss out on daily opportunities for growth.

A core idea that we need to carry with us and integrate into growth conversations is that our success relies on others. It benefits others when you let them know the potential you see in them, and it can give people ideas and help them see what they may not see. 

I know my personal growth is a direct result of all of the amazing people I have had the privilege to work within my career. I feel grateful for people seeing things in me and saying, “I think you would be great at XYZ.”

Although I’m accountable for my own growth, I’m inherently limited by my own perspective. I wouldn’t be where I am today IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE PERSPECTIVES OF OTHERS and their willingness to communicate what they saw in me.

Take your own growth into your hands, and help others do the same.

How Young is Too Young to Begin Preparing for a Career?
June 14, 2019
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The students at Manhattan’s LaGuardia High School, the high school that inspired the movie and TV show Fame, are hoppingWjat s the best age to track students mad.

They staged an hours-long sit-in to protest the role academics plays in their high school. The school’s principal is enforcing academic standards and wants more rigorous requirements, including more emphasis on Advanced Placement classes. The students argue this is not appropriate for a performing arts high school. “We’re not here to be the most perfect mathematicians,” Eryka Anabell, an 18-year-old senior, told the New York Times. “I’m here to discover myself as an artist.”

It is easy to dismiss the students as just wanting to get out of math class. But they do have a point and are making an increasingly common argument: High schools need to prepare students for more than college admissions. LaGuardia aims to teach their students a trade. As student debts mount, many politicians and scholars say we need more vocational education at the high school level that puts less emphasis on college curriculum and more on job skills. Read more

A Canadian ViewPoint: Supporting Clients with Mental Health Challenges
October 19, 2018
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Career development practitioners should take a holistic approach, supporting their clients’ mental health while helping them navigate career planning By Derrick McEachern

Career planning is a mental-health intervention and a well-being practice. What people do each day shapes who they are and how they feel about their daily lives

People who are disengaged from their work, unemployed, undergoing a work transition or ambivalent about their career path may struggle to varying degrees with stress, uncertainty, low self-worth, anxiety and, in many cases, depression. However, government programs traditionally focus solely on employment: helping people find work using their current skills or retraining them in specifically targeted fields with a high probability of employment.

Well-being and mental-health research (Walsh, 2011) suggest a more holistic approach is necessary. There is a need for more comprehensive services that account for employees’ lifestyle factors and support employee engagement and retention while also addressing mental-health problems.

Well-being and mental health

In their book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, Tom Rath and Jim Harter document research conducted across 155 countries that suggests five interconnected elements are predictive of overall well-being. Read more