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Trevor E. S. Smith | What I need to advance my career

Published:Sunday | August 4, 2019 | 12:00 AM

When last did you step off life’s treadmill to reflect on where you are in your career?

- What is your No.1 career concern right now?

- What support could sensitive leadership extend to you?

- Research suggests that we progress through at least four distinct career stages.

NOTE: Ages are inserted only as guidelines as the characteristics of the stage might start earlier or end later.

1. The Establishment Stage (ages 21-26)

This represents the start – first job? Uncertainty. Self-doubt. Reliance on others for guidance. Exploration. Not settled on what career is best for me. Future-ready organisations provide realistic job previews during their talent-acquisition process. Helps me decide if this is right for me and saves them the cost of high turnover.

Sensitive leaders can assist me in developing a career plan that aligns my interests and capabilities to future opportunities. Early frank but patient feedback on my current performance is also welcome. Forget the negative clichés about ‘entitlement mindset’. I value the feedback to develop my knowledge and skills.

I am especially keen to get formal training. Access to a mentoring programme would really keep me motivated and engaged.

2. The Advancement Stage (ages 26-40)

I am now used to navigating the world of work on my own. I have a track record, but my assignments are more challenging now, and I am not always as confident as I would like to be.

I have questions with respect to my progress and sometimes wonder if I have kept pace with my classmates. Also, with the increasing significance of non-work interests – significant other, family, sports, community engagement – work-life balance has become a challenge.

A sensitive leader could start by helping me to feel a greater sense of assurance on the job. Help me to grow in the moment and not wait to recite my shortcomings during performance appraisals. Also, help me with my career planning. Discuss with me career destinations and how to get there. I have not yet decided on what career(s) I want to pursue.

Continue to give me access to formal training, coaching, and mentoring. But you can also share some of the materials that you are reading or viewing. I might be asking for trouble, but I think I will grow if you provide me with challenging assignments (under your guidance, of course). Also, where feasible, I would love to be exposed to different jobs and environments as part of my development.

3. The Maintenance Stage (ages 40-60)

Like so many others, I am now exposed to the dreaded midlife and mid-career crises. It is also said that I am prone to bask in my past achievement and destined to rest on a plateau.

But what if I want to buck those stereotypes and take the view that my best years are still ahead of me? Can sensitive leadership buy in to that vision? How can they assist?

First of all, my experience, and that of others like me, represents institutional knowledge, and some structured mechanisms for documenting it and sharing it with others will be of great value to the organisation. At the same time, it will challenge me to focus my energy into contributing in other meaningful ways.

I am committed to learning and would welcome coaching and mentoring interventions. I am especially keen to participate in sessions related to quality of life, pursuit of alternative careers and succession planning. Assistance in developing my skills as a coach/mentor in my own right would be advantageous to all stakeholders.

4. The Withdrawal Stage (age 60 and above)

This is the period that many view as twilight time. The season for preparing to let go of organisational attachments. Retirement looms and the prospect of enjoying the leisure that I have worked so hard for now comes into view.

I am aware that some think that I am blocking the path of others and that I might be guilty of holding on to old ways, thereby frustrating change initiatives. However, smart leadership can channel my expertise, experience and commitment in unique ways. I could be an internal consultant, coach, problem-solver or work on special projects. I am also happy to work less hours and to have longer weekends.

Reference: Organizational Development And Change: Cummings, Worley


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- Trevor E. S. Smith/Success with People Academy. Interpersonal relations, group dynamics and performance-enhancement specialists. Providing learning & empowerment and productivity-enhancement technology solutions. Behavioural assessments from Extended DISC on the revolutionary FinxS Platform. Email: