Thursday, July 16, 2009

Avoiding the Alice Syndrome

Over the years much has been said about the importance of planning goals in terms of sales, job performance, employee development, and revenue and yes profitability.
My observation is however, few individuals evaluate these terms in context of their career plan. I’m not talking about the short term here. Rather, 5+ years out. Over the last 3 years, I consistently ask prospective employees what they want to be doing 5 years from now. Consistent responses are:

  • I want to be working for a good company that provides opportunities
  • I have not really thought about this so I’m not sure
  • I want to have a good job in a stable company
  • I can’t think that far into the future

To be sure, these are desires worth having. However, they do not address what I believe is a major failing on the part of employees and in large part managers and supervisors. Namely, in conjunction with the employee developing a Career Development Plan inclusive of a “employee development” component. At this point, you may be asking yourself what’s the difference? This is a fair question and often times one that can be confusing. The employee development component of the career plan should focus on the development of skills for the current job; career development should focus on the development of skills for future jobs.

I like to take this concept a step farther and with prospective employees ask them to focus on the “end game”. Specifically, what do they want to do with the rest of their life and how are they going to get there. You see, I happen to think to effectively develop a career plan; you have to start at the end and work backwards.

In order to do the type of career planning I’m talking about one has to do a great deal of introspection, ask the difficult “so what” question at every decision point. Maybe that’s why so few individuals actually get this done.

It’s at this point I usually remind them of the story of Alice and Wonderland and the Cheshire cat “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here? Asked Alice. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” responded the cat. “I don’t much care where,” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t much matter which way you walk,” replied the cat. This one simple statement says it all. If one is unsure of where one is going, (does not have a plan) take the next road for any path will do.

No comments:

Post a Comment