Table of contents
Nature of careers
Types of careers
Making your Career Choice
Socialisation in the Organisation
Mentoring the new employee
It’s never ‘smooth sailing’ – challenges will arise
The nature of motivation
Meeting staff needs towards motivation
Alderfer’s ERG Theory
Setting goals towards motivation
Managers need to set goals
Being fair towards motivation
Altering expectations towards motivation
Restructuring jobs towards motivation
The world of work is complex and the nature of a chosen career is dynamic. This paper seeks to outline the decisions necessary and the responsibilities of the role-players in making for a smooth transition into the workplace. The nature of a career is clarified and its complexity is highlighted with the mentor’s role being paramount to the induction of the new staff member into the organisation. The management team plays a critical role in ensuring opportunities for social interaction and the establishment of challenging job functions for the subordinates.
In addition, in my mind the motivation of the staff is crucial in ensuring continued success in the workplace. I have outlined what constitutes motivation of a staff member and have utilised reference to Maslow’s hierarchy and Alderfer’s ERG theory to explain the levels of need that each staff member seeks to have met in order to remain motivated in the working environment. While the meeting of the employees’ needs are crucial, setting goals for the individual and the organisation is a key function of the management team in ensuring continued motivation among its staff members. When the staff member feels that they are part of the decision making process and their voice is being heard, they are intrinsically more motivated towards achieving the goal(s) set forth.
Motivation is not always high among staff and it is often necessary to do some introspection and assess whether fairness within the organisation is a reality. Perceived inequity among employees can erode motivation. As such, fairness with regards salary, responsibility and rewards needs to be assessed on a regular basis. It may also be necessary to restructure the work that an individual or group of individuals is responsible for completing, in this way the work can become more rewarding, more challenging or simply less mundane for the employee and hence improve their motivation in the organisation.
Having worked with high school children for some twenty years now and having been in a management position for over twelve years, this paper is as much for the reader and is it is for me. I find that I have refreshed my think while reminding myself of the responsibility that I have towards my students and my colleagues in preparing my students for their tertiary studies and careers and enhancing the motivation of the staff.
A wide variety of factors influence the nature of a person’s career choice, the direction their career takes and their ultimate success and satisfaction they experience over the duration of their working life. In commencing we need to outline what constitutes a career and its characteristics.
Nature of careers
A job may be defined as a set of activities or responsibilities that are expected to be performed by a worker. A career, as an extension can be viewed as the sequence of jobs or work experience over a period of time, these packages of experience usually have some coherence in nature. Most people will have a number of jobs during the course of their work experience and often this includes employment in a number of different organisations.
One’s career has the potential to instil a sense of pride in the individual, it determines one’s income and will often define how we view or own success and the success of others. We are undoubtedly judged by others according to our job title. As individuals it is important to look critically at our career goals and path, but the organisation that employs us will take keen interest in their employees’ aspirations, motivation and performance (Greenberg & Baron: 2003).
As educators of youth forging forward into their own career paths, it is imperative that we are mindful that the world of ‘work’ today has changed in nature as each new generation reaches working age. Firstly, the career path is no longer stagnant; it is now the norm for workers to hold a number of different occupations with varying job titles as their career path progresses. The technological advances in society have resulted in a plethora of job titles that previously did not exist. The dramatic shift in our economy has resulted in a decline in job security and hence employees will actively seek new job opportunities for career advancement, financial gain or improved job satisfaction. The sense of loyalty to the company has become a thing of the past. A change in the working environment has resulted in less loyalty from both the employer and employee and the idea of ‘job-hopping’ is no longer frowned upon.
Secondly, the concept of work success is changing. The success in your career was determined by the accumulation of assets – your home, your car, or vacation destinations. There is a growing trend towards finding a balance between work, family responsibilities and recreation. This trend leads to greater wellness of staff and the option to sacrifice the luxury assets in your life for better balance and often a less stressful work experience is becoming more popular among employees and more socially acceptable; occasionally encouraged by employees that place value on staff wellness.
Finally there is increasing flexibility in working hours in response to advances in technology. In many occupations it is possible to work many hours from home, e-mailing work to the office, with the flexibility to structure the 40 hour work week differently. It is commonplace to see people working on iPads or laptops while commuting to work on the train, underground or bus; employees have the freedom to work productively in a less stressful environment. In addition a number of individuals will choose to work as consultants; as project workers they acquire added freedom in the workplace but naturally encounter disadvantages as well.
Each person’s occupation is unique but there are categories into which most careers belong.
Types of careers
There are four basic types of careers:
- Steady-state careers
- Linear careers
- Spiral careers
- Transitory careers
Neither type is better or more rewarding than another, nor does any individual find more job satisfaction or career pride in any of the career types mentioned. (Damico: 2002).
A steady-state career is characterised by a single job that is carried out for a lifetime, this career usually results in a highly skilled expert in the job function due to a significant number of years’ experience in this particular function. It has obvious advantages for the employment company.
The linear career is characterised by an individual remaining in a particular field of work and gradually working their way up the occupational structure to high-level jobs as their competency increases. This may be viewed as the traditional process but is, in today’s world, hardly the only career path available to the employee.
Spiral careers are evolutionary in nature and stem from a number of different occupations that each requires the development of a new skills base while building on the existing knowledge, experience and skill of the employee. These employees should be viewed as individuals who are focused on growing and increasing their skills offering to the employer.
The transitory career is defined by the individual who may not have found their particular work passion and they tend to move between unrelated jobs in a relatively short period of time. These individuals may be viewed negatively by society but in reality they are searching for the position that brings them joy and a sense of satisfaction.
Making your Career Choice
Having worked with adolescents for the past twenty years, as they approach the end of their school career and venture into the world of tertiary studies and potential careers, one of the most challenging decisions for them is the choice of an appropriate line of studies for their future career path. This very important decision is grounded in three factors; their individual skill, values and interests, their perception of how well they would fit a specific career choice and finally prospective employment opportunities in a specific career field. (Holland: 1973).
Holland’s Theory of Vocational Choice suggests that the individual’s personality fit with the occupation determines greater or lesser degrees of satisfaction in the workplace. John Holland proposes that specific occupations attract people with similar personality types and personality trends may predispose individuals to success within a particular occupational field. As a result of his scientific studies into occupational choices, Holland developed his theory of vocational choice. His theory is used by vocational counsellors in assisting adolescents and adults to identify potential fields of employment that match their specific personality type.
Holland’s hexagon identifies six different characteristics of the work environment and the personality traits and interests of people who have succeeded in these fields. The six characteristics; realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising and conventional is connected to its own personality traits, an indication of potential working environments and occupations that may be aligned with the individual’s specific personality traits.
Holland’s Theory of Vocational Choice
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It is important to keep in mind that a person or a job does not fit neatly into only one single category and hence a particular personality may work well in more than one category or occupation dependent on their individual combination of traits. Finding a good match is more of an art tan an exact science.