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How to return Career Power to your employees

15 January 2018, by Lesley Vanleke
  • #Career Fitness Profiler
  • #talent development

I think organizations can benefit if they find ways for their employees to seize career power.

In her opinion piece, in De Standaard on December 23rd “Burn out is het nieuwe staken” (Burn-out is the new way to strike), Prof. dr. Peggy de Prins argues that burn-out can be an expression of feelings of impotence related to work. In that sense, burn-out is just as much an organizational topic as it is a psychological one. Causes for burn-out are not only psychological in nature but also the sociological aspect of burn-out should be taken into account. I couldn’t agree with her more. Burn-out obviously is linked to the topic of careers. I think organizations can benefit if they find ways for their employees to seize career power. One way to this is to discuss the following questions within organizations with the various career actors; employees, managers, HR-professionals, and unions :

  • How do careers get shaped in our organization?

Are we still holding on to the old paradigm of career management and trying to plan careers or are we more into the facilitation of careers, leaving the career power to the employee?

  • How important is the individual career owner’s perspective on the career outlook in our organization?

When we discuss the careers of individuals, for instance in a talent review meeting, are we focusing on things important for the organization/job or do we also have a clear view on the subjective career success of our employees? Do we have an idea of what gives /takes energy for this particular employee?

  • How much room can we make for job crafting and autonomy in our job design?

Are we stuck in narrow job descriptions, linked to the system that shapes our pay system? Do our managers want their employees to all clones of each other or can we allow some individualization in the way a role is being fulfilled by an individual?

  • To what degree are we at ease with employees who consider their career as the product of constant negotiation with their employer?

Do we have a talent culture in which career negotiation is accepted and formalized or do we experience frustration in our relationship with employees who behave like true career architects and thus seize career power?

  • When managers offer openings on the (internal) job market, can they make a connection to the meaning the job might offer to those who fill the opening?

Do our job descriptions put the focus on competences and results or is there also attention for what brings meaning to work, for example, identity, learning opportunities, meaningful relationships, contribution, personal growth and so on?

I believe that having a broad dialogue about these kinds of questions is crucial in building a sustainable talent culture, built on self-management, well-being, employability, and growth. Creating awareness about where we can make more room for the employees’ career power is a good start.

Contact us if you want to learn more about the Career Fitness Profiler for measuring and developing the career power of your employees.


About the author

Lesley Vanleke

Lesley Vanleke holds over 20 years of experience in HR. In 2014 she co-founded TalentLogiQS, where she searches to understand all different aspects of customers’ challenges and needs. She strives to be a sounding board and bring about connections that deliver added value for all parties concerned.