Career Development May Mean Career Disruption

Career Development May Mean Career Disruption

Today we’ve invited our friend and author, Julie Winkle Giulioni, to share some career development expertise from her book Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want.  Julie has offered a FREE download of the book to the first 10 people who leave a comment on this post (be sure to enter your email address– it won’t be visible, but that’s how we will send you the download.)

Career Development May Mean Career Disruption

We’ve seen it time and again. The products and services that we loved yesterday are old news today… and obsolete tomorrow. It plays out in everything from our voracious appetite for new features and phones to the revolving doors of food providers who ride the taste-of-the-moment waves from cupcakes to fro-yo to poke.

That’s why most organizations rank innovation among their top strategic priorities. They know that the only way to survive this challenging and unpredictable reality is to continue to evolve products and services to stay ahead of (or at least even with) their customers’ fast-evolving and frequently fickle expectations.

But for many, mere incrementalism may not be sufficient to thrive – or even survive. So, disruption or radical change has now become the new normal. Organizations can certainly choose not to proactively disrupt; but, in that case, they’d better prepare to be disrupted themselves.

Even the employment landscape reflects this disruptive dynamic. The workplace of the past was almost completely populated with full-time employees. At present, full-timers only make up just over 50% of the workforce and the rest is a patchwork quilt of badge types and employment forms –part-time, contractor, consultant, intern, extern … and the list goes on.

This dynamic business landscape has introduced a range of challenges when it comes to career development. Gone are the days of predictable progression through pre-determined paths. The corporate ladder has toppled. Learning has morphed from formal, organizationally-driven training initiatives to organic, embedded experiences and self-service access models.

A VUCA Guide to Career Success in a VUCA World Help Them Grow or Watch Them Grow

Environments characterized by all of this disruption are frequently labeled ‘VUCA’ – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Making the most of these factors and thriving in today’s environment requires a disruptive approach to career development as well – one that comes with its own brand of VUCA. Because 21st century career development must be:

Versatile – Career success today demands an unprecedented level of flexibility, adaptability, and versatility. ‘Multi-purpose’ is the name of the game. Becoming a multi-purpose player. Developing multi-purpose skills. This helps one add more value while keeping pace, shifting gears, and responding fluidly, nimbly and quickly. Versatility supports career disruption, preparing employees to remain in a perpetual state of readiness to perceive and pivot toward possibilities. This is the secret sauce of sustainable success.

Uplifting – For career development to get the attention it deserves (and to break through the din of organizational priorities and noise) it has to mean something. Employees won’t put forth the discretionary effort required to pursue plans and goals if they don’t have an emotional connection to them. As a result, powerful development includes an affective dimension … with activities and elements that leave people inspired, energized and uplifted.

Choice-filled – In the past, career development was guided by static maps or career paths. But what happens if there’s a roadblock, accident, or just the desire to take a more scenic route? Career development in today’s disruptive environment requires dynamic GPS systems that offer current data about changing conditions and options for moving forward. The best career plans are the ones with many decision points, options, and possible roads in the right direction. These choices, teamed with versatility and adaptability, allow for real-time rerouting to take advantage of evolving possibilities as they present themselves.

Active – Gone are the days of employees being passive consumers of organizationally-driven career development services. Today employees and leaders actively partner to co-create opportunities for growth. But employees must really own their development. It must be a conscious choice, a personal priority and a deep commitment that plays out every day.

Today’s business environment requires employees to be ready, receptive, and resilient. Whether people come out feeling vulnerable or victorious depends largely upon one thing: their willingness to disrupt themselves and their careers.

Posted in Career & Learning and tagged , , , .

Julie Winkle Giulioni

Julie Winkle Giulioni works with organizations worldwide to improve performance through leadership and learning. Named one of Inc. Magazines top 100 leadership speakers, Julie is the co-author of the Amazon and Washington Post bestseller, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want. She offers keynote addresses, facilitated workshops, custom webinars, elearning and microlearning solutions that deliver measurable results. Julie is a regular contributor to The Economist, SmartBrief, Saba’s TalentSpace, the Conference Board’s Human Capital Exchange, and a variety of publications and offers thoughts on leadership, career development, and more via her blog, www.juliewinklegiulioni.com.

21 Comments

  1. In this generation, Continuous learning is the key no matter in which industry you work. Companies that offer the tools for Career Development and encourage employees to Learn will definitely succeed.

  2. Well said, Pruvi. Career and employee development have really become a strategic imperative. Thanks for the comment. Watch your email later this week for an Apple download code for a free copy of the 2nd edition of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want. Enjoy!

  3. This article makes a great read and it is the case these days, career development does need to be more flexible, adaptable, transferable, and offer more choice. Long are the days where a person would stay in the same company for years.

    • Adaptable and transferable are great terms… and really do describe how career development needs to shift to meet the needs of organizations and employees alike. Watch your email later this week for an Apple download code for a free copy of the 2nd edition of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want. Enjoy!

  4. I am trying very hard to adapt my middle management skills now that I have entered middle age. I am finding more and more that our newer employees want a TON of flexibility and career development. I struggle to find the resources for government employees, but will continue to try hard!

    • Good for you. And you’re right. I recently read that for millennials, learning and development is their #1 most valuable benefit. Watch your email later this week for an Apple download code for a free copy of the 2nd edition of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want. It contains lots of strategies and tools to help with this challenge.

  5. Great article. In today’s environment businesses are changing at a fast pace with technology and innovation. It is key to invest the same time in your personal and employee’s development to make it be as much the culture of your organization as the innovation and technological changes are.

    • Absolutely. When we can cultivate a culture that actively supports development, it makes it much easier for managers and employees alike. I really appreciate this comment. Watch your email later this week for an Apple download code for a free copy of the 2nd edition of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want. Enjoy!

  6. Julie, thank you for a great post.

    I love acronyms and what you’ve created with this one: VUCA.

    It is especially relevant and timely as I transition from intrapreneur to entrepreneur… again!

    Listening to my favorite postcast — Disrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson — a guest cited a stat. The average person will hold 20 jobs/roles in a career and will be disrupted unexpectedly four or five times. This is #4 for me.

    Thank you for inspiring new insights and perspective.

    • I too love Whitney Johnson’s work… and what a powerful stat. Thanks for sharing. Watch your email later this week for an Apple download code for a free copy of the 2nd edition of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want. Enjoy!

  7. Thank you for this article! We can’t always show our employees the exact path that their development will take them down, but we can help them be ready for whatever next opportunity comes along the way. This requires patience, understanding, and hard work from both the manager and the employee – but that’s what the leadership investment is all about!

    • You are so right, Colleen. Managers and employees must partner to enable growth day-to-day in service of current needs as well as the future ones that may not even be on our radar screens. Thanks for your comment. Watch your email later this week for an Apple download code for a free copy of the 2nd edition of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want. Enjoy!

  8. Adaptable and transferable are great terms… and really do describe how career development needs to shift to meet the needs of organizations and employees alike. Watch your email later this week for an Apple download code for a free copy of the 2nd edition of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want. Enjoy!

  9. Following the VUCA model will not only make our organizations better for our team members, it also prepares us for the adaptability required to respond to our changing customer expectations. It all starts with development of the team. Thank you for tackling this important topic.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Jason. As customers, markets, and competition continue to shift, being able to respond agilely will only become more important. Watch your email later this week for an Apple download code for a free copy of the 2nd edition of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want. Enjoy!

  10. Being Versatile in key to career development. Opportunities come in all forms; meaning not all growth positions will be upward moves on the corporate ladder. Some opportunities may take the form of a lateral move that will ultimately project ones career in a whole new direction. Being flexible, willing to learn new things and being open to new challenges is the way to succeed. It’s a “win-win” when companies reward internally those colleagues willing and able to flex/stretch themselves into new positions.

    • You are so right, Yvonne. And some opportunities come in the form of NO move… rather, inviting new challenges and experiences into the envelop of one’s current role. And you’ve touched on an important point around how organization’s recognize and reward this kind of growth that may be less visible than tradition promotions. That’s the next frontier we need to take on. Thanks for reading and for the comment. Watch your email later this week for an Apple download code for a free copy of the 2nd edition of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want. Enjoy!

  11. Excellent points! And what a VUCA world it is for career development! Providing learning opportunities to help employees grow into multi-purpose players with well-developed multi-purpose skills, is critical for success in both public and private employment sectors… definitely a case for “Help them Grow or Watch them Go…” For many, remaining actively engaged in today’s environment of constant change and innovation is difficult…but the resulting growth is well worth the hard work required by both leader and employee. One key to that success is being clear that growing multi-purpose skills is not the same as multi-tasking… Bottom line, though, is that even when a door to new growth opportunities is opened, the responsibility for walking through that door ultimately remains with the employee.

  12. Excellent points! And what a VUCA world it is for career development! Providing learning opportunities to help employees grow into multi-purpose players with well-developed multi-purpose skills, is critical for success in both public and private employment sectors… definitely a case for “Help them Grow or Watch them Go…” For many, remaining actively engaged in today’s environment of constant change and innovation is difficult…but the resulting growth is well worth the hard work required by both leader and employee. One key to that success is being clear that growing multi-purpose skills is not the same as multi-tasking… Bottom line, though, is that even when a door to new growth opportunities is opened, the responsibility for walking through that door ultimately remains with the employee. (Having some technical difficulties posting so hopefully this isn’t being submitted multiple times.)

    • I love this distinction, Wendy, between multi-purpose and multi-tasking. You are so right. Cultivating the skills and versatility to be able your contribution potential also enables the ability to pivot and respond to changing conditions. But, this frequently requires laser-like focus. Thanks so much for the insight. Please watch your email later this week for an Apple download code for a free copy of the 2nd edition of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want.

  13. I work in the local government sector. Public Safety Communications (9-1-1 Administration) to be specific. Maintaining employees is a nationwide crisis for many reasons. One that I had previously identified is the static career path that you described. However, I had never thought about it as colorfully as you put it. In directing First Responder’s we often rely on GPS, so the choice-filled option description is very apropos, and I intend to use it as we push for changes in our strategy (thought-change in government is often very slow and difficult). Our organization is very innovative from a technology standpoint, but can truly apply this innovation to the people side of business. Thank you for sharing.

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