Rules for career success in an era of constant change: Case study

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List of figures, tables and charts

Table 1 Five types of career anchors……………………………………………………………. 4

Figure 1 The resiliency process model……………………………………………………….. 12

Content page

List of figures, tables and charts………………………………………………………………………… 1

  1. Question 1: Regarding the measurement of career success……………………………… 3

1.1      Criteria of career success…………………………………………………………………… 3

1.2      Case analysis……………………………………………………………………………………. 4

1.2.1     Mark Margolis, the Creativity/Entrepreneurship career anchor……… 4

1.2.2     Emilio Kornau, the Technical/Functional competence career anchor. 4

  1. How well has each of them responded to change?…………………………………………. 5

2.1      Mark Margolis’s proactive reactions to changes……………………………………. 5

2.2      Emilio Kornau’s reactive reactions to changes……………………………………… 6

  1. ICL’s role in Emilio Kornau’s career management………………………………………….. 7

3.1      Career development concept……………………………………………………………… 7

3.2      Companies’ key tasks in career management………………………………………… 8

3.3      Case analysis……………………………………………………………………………………. 8

  1. Is Mark Margolis exceptionally resilient, or would most other people having experience the same career events have become similarly resilient?…………………………………………………………………………. 9

4.1      Basic concepts…………………………………………………………………………………. 9

4.2      Resilience, age and family background……………………………………………… 10

4.3      The resilience model- How people experience disruption…………………….. 11

  1. List the top three rules for career success in an era of constant change……………. 12

5.1      Cultivate the characteristic internal resilience…………………………………….. 12

5.2      Life time learning…………………………………………………………………………… 13

5.3      Balance between adaptation and persistence……………………………………… 13

Reference……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 15
 

1.        Question 1: Regarding the measurement of career success

 

1.1    Criteria of career success

 

Schein (1975) proposed that individuals develop an increasingly stable and accurate career related self-concept at work, consisting of self-perceived talents and abilities, basic values and an evolved sense of motives and needs which serve as the career anchors which provides a measurement of career success. In his conception, Schein provides five types of career anchors as illustrated in the table below.

Table 1 Five types of career anchors

Source: (Kandula 2003, p.81)

 

The career anchors guides people’s career choices and criteria for evaluating career success (Anderson, Ones, Sinangil & Viswesvaran 2005, p.124), and the idea of anchor suggested that the anchor is actually a stable status that a person would not drift far away. And it is the individual and internal criteria of success for oneself. As seen from the table above, we can see that the career anchors provide descriptions of the successful careers in the five types of career life in a stable status, but it does not provide recommendations on how to sustain such career success. Below we will analyze the two cases in term of career success

 

1.2    Case analysis

 

1.2.1            Mark Margolis, the Creativity/Entrepreneurship career anchor

 

The Creativity/Entrepreneurship career anchor describes those who derive satisfaction from launching and doing their own job/business (Kandula 2006, p.82). Under the employment status, they tend to start something new and many of them also tend to prefer to work in small but fast growing firms and industries in order to start their own business in the future. In the career anchor, possessing a successful business which is their interests would at the same time means the success in the career. By this criterion, it could be concluded that it may not be very successful at the beginning for Mark Margolis who had been betrayed by his partner in the computer firm but he managed to return back and finally made up a successful business which later brought him $16 million after the sale of the firm. And after as he said that he had his hands full and had been having fun doing the business he loves. So it could be concluded that he had achieved a very successful career which is typical according to the description of the Creativity/Entrepreneurship career anchor.

 

1.2.2            Emilio Kornau, the Technical/Functional competence career anchor

 

According to Schein (1975), employees who are anchored in the Technical/Functional competence tend to have a high motivation and a talent to achieve a high level of technical or functional competence (Hillmer 2009, p.137). And it is claimed that staffs in this anchor likes being challenged in the specified technical field and from a sense career stability and security could be derived from the perception that the technical and functional competence is valuable and marketable which makes them believe they are competitive in the job market. The anchor of Technical/Functional competence fits well to Emilio Kornau in his early career life in ICl. As mentioned in the case, as an excellent engineer and a hard worker, Emilio Kornau progresse managed to rose higher and higher along the company’s technical career ladder and the position of senior engineer at his 39 in year 1998 as the youngest in the department. During this period, according the description of the Technical/Functional competence career anchor, we can say that Emilio Kornau had achieved an admirable career success in his department and even in the industry.

 

But things did not go well aftermath when there were fundamental changes happened to the U.K. computer industry as the once dominant ICL, the employer of Emilio Kornau ended up with a takeover by Fujitsu. And due the fast changes and skills innovation, Emilio Kornau finally lost the admirable job and become uncompetitive in the job market and become a driver in the end. Again we can see that after the big changes in the UK computer industry, Emilio Kornau became very unsuccessful in his career as he can not even use the technological knowledge that he used to be so proud to have and his later working experiences had been far away from the Technical/Functional competence career anchor.

 

2.        How well has each of them responded to change?

 

2.1    Mark Margolis’s proactive reactions to changes

 

As suggested by Susan Bulkeley Butler (2006, p.15) that change is constant but the reaction of the change is a choice, one could chooses to act proactively to see change as an opportunity for a better career or he or she could also act reactive to the changes. And logically, there is chance to achieve both success or end up with failure by proactive or reactive reactions to changes. In the case, Mark Margolis in his life had encountered a number of changes and some of them were even resulted in total failure of his business. For example, after being asked to leave the MBA program he started a firm named Exposign with his partner who betrayed him and use investment in the speculative venture to make Margolist sell out the company to a competitor for less than total liabilities of the company. In this time, then we can say that Margolist totally lost what he had gained through his efforts after being asked to leave the university. But he managed to bounce back with a proactive attitude and using a serious of actions such as readmission to the MBA program and getting a job with Bestaman Company. Mark Margolis’s career life could be described as up and down with time passes, but his responded excellently and learn from the failure experiences with a proactive attitude toward the changes happening around him.

 

2.2    Emilio Kornau’s reactive reactions to changes

 

The later career failure of Emilio Kornau corresponds with the view that those with a technical/funcational competence anchor can probably rest assured that experts will always be required but again the nature of the knowledge and skills tends to change rapidly which requires them to update (Anderson, Ones, Sinangil & Viswesvaran 2005, p.124). And in Emilio Kornau’s case, he was too confident with the engineering skills that he had possessed and did not want to start from the low level to learn the new knowledge. During that period, Emilio Kornau missed at least two types of offer: the first offer was offered by ICL to work elsewhere in the same company but he refused with the reason of not willing to move out of UK; the second type of chances were the other technical jobs in other companies but he also refused because those positions would require him to start from the lowest level because of the specialty of his engineering skills which were extremely company-specific. It could be concluded that after Emilio Kornau left the ICL, his experiences to look up for a job but finally end up as being a taxi driver proves that Emilio Kornau was not successful according to the typical career path of the Technical/Functional competence career anchor and his reactions to the changes in the industry had been very reactive.

 

And such reactive attitude to changes results in reactive changes which are often as bad because the reactive changes generally result from a fragmented perception of the purposes of the system and the nature of the change (Koehler & Baxter 1997, p.177). And the reactions of Emilio Kornau to the changes fit well with this description as he did not get the big picture of the change happening there in the computer industry and was too focusing on the original knowledge and would not want to act more actively to the changes and try something new out there.

 

3.        ICL’s role in Emilio Kornau’s career management

 

3.1    Career development concept

 

Career development is about individuals taking responsibility for developing and progress their career with support from the organization (Yarnall 2008, p.3) to maximize the individual potential which is key to the company’s success. Another similar definition of career management from the organizational perspective is provided by Mayo (1991, p.69) that career management is the design and implementation f organizational processes which enable the careers of individuals to be planned and managed in a way that optimized both the needs of the organization and the preferences and the capability of the individuals. And Greenhaus and Callanan (1994, p.15) offer a definition of career management from the individual’s perspective that the career management could be referred as an ongoing problem-solving process in which information is gathered, awareness of oneself and the environment is increased, career goals and strategies are developed and feedback is obtained.

 

3.2    Companies’ key tasks in career management

 

Now we leave alone the debate that whether it is majorly the company’s responsibility or individual employees’ job to manage and plan the career well, below we will check whether the company had met the requirements to provide sufficient support to the career management process. With the help from the definitions about career management and my personal working experience, here three major tasks I believe a company should do in order to do the career management job well: firstly, a company should provide the room for a capable and talented employee to grow in term of developing and progressing their career along the career ladders; secondly, a company should respect an individual employee’s career interest and selection and provide support and guidance to help him or her to achieve such goal; thirdly, a company should provide enough of flexibility in job selection and offer cross position training in term of job rotation in order to help identify the individual interest.

 

3.3    Case analysis

 

With these three key tasks of career management in the perspective of the company, we can see that Emilio Kornau’s employer, ICL, had done an “OK” though not a very good job in managing Emilio Kornau’s career. Firstly, at his early career life, the company had recognize his talent in the engineering and made him a senior engineer at his 39 which proves that the company did provide him with enough of room to grow and maximize his potential in engineering; secondly, when the company was hit by the unexpected changes in the computer market, the company did offer him an opportunity to be shifted to the other position within the organization which he refused to accept; and thirdly, the only blame that we can make about his employer, ICL was that the company did not train him well with knowledge about other engineering jobs that could equip him with competitiveness when he go out to the job market. But it is also fare to say that by doing job like what Emilio Kornau did in ICL, the narrow job selection due to the specific knowledge comes together with the advantages derived from the specific knowledge. And the company did do a fare good in managing his career, and what’s more even the company did go through a takeover by other company, the fault of the company in the career management of Emilio Kornau seemed to be more business strategy relative and Emilio Kornau as the victim also bore a major responsibility for the final result due to his persistence in finding a similar job and refused to start the career from the lowest level.

 

4.        Is Mark Margolis exceptionally resilient, or would most other people having experience the same career events have become similarly resilient?

 

There are some people like Mark Margolis who will become similarly resilient when they have the same career events like what Mark Margolis had gone through, but the majority of people will not become so resilient and instead a large proportion of them would become protective and focusing on sustaining job security and stability. Below we will try to analyze the situation when people face the career failure.

 

4.1    Basic concepts

 

While there is no widely agreed definition of the term resilience, here first we review the definition provided by Werner and Smith (1992) who claimed that resilience describes those who have a good track record in the face of disruptive change. Masten (1994) defined resilience as a development process linked to demonstrated competence, the learned capacity to interact positively with the environment and to complete tasks successfully.

 

 

 

4.2    Resilience, age and family background

 

A number of studies and also our daily life experiences correspond with the suggestion that the formation of resilience is frequently associated with childhood and adolescence (Greene, R. & Greene, R. R. 2008, p.327). And Lewis and Harrell (2002)’s study found out that the expressions of resilience tend to be the persistent pursue of basic needs, safety and support and social needs such as the maintenance of interpersonal relationships. So the traditional understanding of resilience, especially the meaning that we have in this case study which is to pursue the career success with persistence despite of the happening of the big changes or disruptive changes. So from this view of point, we can say that the majority old aged people will be excluded from those who will become resilient like Mark Margolis because the old people do not show the resilience in the career field.

 

What’s more as suggested by (Tizard & Varma 1992, p.115) that resilience not only is relative to the general societal standards but it is also connected to the subculture and family background of the young adult in term of social calss for example. And we can see such impact of family background on the formation of the resilience in the two contrasting cases. In the first case, Mark Margolis grew up in the Long Island of New York as the son of a business. And we can assume that as the son of a business man in New York, Mark Margolis may had seen the up and down in the career life especially for those who want to create their own business, and such good environment may have make him more prepared to career failure and drawback when he began his business which pave the way for the formation of the resilience of his character. And in contrast in the second case, Emilio Kornau who grew up in an immigrant family and his father was a laborer in a steel mill when he was young, and he started to supplement his family’s meager income by selling newspapers and delivering groceries. What he had been educated was that “Work hard, give to the company and you will always have a job”, with the family background and education, we can understand that since he was a small child, Emilio Kornau preferred a stable job and was made believe that hard work can help him avoid the big changes in the career life. What’s more by comparison between these two case, we can see that Emilio Kornau’s childhood had significant influence on the later career choices that he had made, he was in a poor family when he was a child and he dislike Mark Margolis had a family to support and he could not sustain the career failure like what Mark Margolis did. So we can see that the distinctive relations in term of different degree of resilience that these two men reacted to the big career change are reasonable thinking about their different childhood.

 

4.3    The resilience model- How people experience disruption

Figure 1 The resiliency process model

Source: (Richardson 2002)

 

As illustrated in the figure above, according to Richarson’s Resiliency Model stressors or life challenges which could be beyond expectation and are not balanced by external envirosocial protective processes or biopsychospiritual resiliency factors within the individual can lead to imbalances in homeostasis or disruption (Flach 1988). And when the disruptions happen, the next step that the individuals will experience is the disorganization of oneself and reintegration process in which people need to grow and develop new insights to cope with the changes. As proposed by the model, there are several different reintegration levels that could happen depending on the seriousness of the crisis and the new insights towards the changes and even the individual differences such as the family background that we have just discussed. As suggested by Glantz and Johnson (1999, p.211) in the study that some clients appear to grow from the experience and treat the changes on the positive nature of the disruption, whereas others decompensate into depression and negativism. This view of point also corresponds with our life experiences that the majority of the people could sustain the daily life difficulties, but when they encounter disruptive changes such as layoff or the death of the families most of them would experience the disorganization at the beginning but then two different type of reaction would occur: many of them will become negative until something positive and exciting happen and only a small proportion will come out quickly and treat the issue with positive idea. This also the reason why those exceptional resilient are rare among us and they tend to become very successful once a good opportunity is provided.

 

5.        List the top three rules for career success in an era of constant change

 

5.1    Cultivate the characteristic internal resilience

 

As concluded above, people who could manage to turnaround the disruptive changes and make the best out of the bad situations like what Mark Margolis did in the case; they tend to show exceptional resilience after various changes in their daily life and career life. So that it tell us that when we encounter difficulties and challenges in our life whether in life or workplace, we need to treat them in a more positive way and form our own philosophy about the why these difficulties happen and what we can learn from these difficulties. We need to see the existence of the testified “survivor resilience” (Kahana, Harel & Kahana, 2005. p.76) and believe that being resilient would lead us out of the bad situation more quickly.

 

5.2    Life time learning

 

The concept of lifetime learning or lifelong learning was proposed in the late 1990s and the DfEE annual report described lifetime learning as to “develop employees’ commitment to lifelong learning so as to enhance their lives, improve their employability in a changing labor market and create the skills that our economy and employers need” (DfEE 1997). As in a employee’s perspective, we can learn from the case of Emilio Kornau who fell from a manager’s position to a taxi driver in about ten years’ time and during this period he had been given many chance to learn the new skills and technology. As the employees, we need to identify the core skills that could build up our core competitiveness and make us marketable in the future competitive labor market. To achieve this goal, beside our own efforts, we also need to select such a company that integrates the lifetime learning concept in the working practices and also we need to demand the employers to provide career planning that could make us competitive in the long run. In other words, we need to be more positive towards changes through equipping ourselves with the new knowledge.

 

5.3    Balance between adaptation and persistence

 

From the above theoretical analysis and case discussion, we may draw such a conclusion that we need to respond quickly and actively in order to get adapted to the constant changing labor market so that we could survive. But let me present here a true story that happened to my friend’s company. Two young students from the same major and same college compete for a job in a trading company and they were offered one month’s internship. The first graduate after work focused on learning that was widely used in the work place and the second graduate perceived that there were an increasing number of Russian clients that the company was dealing with then he decided to learn more Russia which was his second language when he was studying in the college. But when the second student perceived the change and tries to positively react to the change, after one month he couldn’t get the offer to stay while the other did. This experience shows that while we need to prepare for changes, we also need to identify which change is fundamental and which changes need our close attention and what’s more we need to decide when to get adapted to the changes. I propose that changes like products, they also have life cycles with four major phrases: introduction, growth, maturity and decline. And it seems that early adaption in the introduction will usually incur a lot of cost in term of time and money, and reactions in time of maturity and decline could mean passive reactions that usually are too late. So the adaptations in the growth stage should be recommended. And those changes that never reach the growth stage should be neglected and persistence and focus on the current job content and environment should be maintained.

 

 

Reference

 

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Glantz, M. D. & Johnson, J. L.1999, Resilience and development: positive life adaptations, New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, p.211

 

Greenhaus, J. H. & Callanan, G. A. 1994, Career Management, Fort Worth Guest: Dryden Press, p.15

 

Greene, R. & Greene, R. R. 2008, Human behavior theory & social work practice. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. p.327

 

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Kahana, B., Harel, Z. & Kahana, E. 2005. Holocaust survivors and immigrants: late life adaptations. New York: Springer Science, p.76

 

Koehler, M. & Baxter, J. 1997, Leadership through collaboration: alternatives to the hierarchy, New York: Eye On Education, Inc, p.177

 

Lewis, J. & Harrell, E. 2002. Older adults. In RR Greene (ED.), Resiliency: An Integrated Approach to Practice, Policy, and Research (pp.277-292)

 

Mayo, A.1991, Managing careers. London: IPM p.69

 

Masten, A. 1994. Resilience in individual development: successful adaptation despite risky and adversity. In MC Wang & EW Gordon (Eds.), Educational resilience in inner-city America: Challenges and prospects (pp. 1-25).

 

Richardson, G. E. 2002. Metatheory of resilience and resiliency. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(3), 307-321

 

Tizard, B. & Varma, V. 1992, Vulnerability and resilience in human development. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Ltd. p.115

 

Schein, E. 1975. How career anchors hold executives to their career paths, Personnel Journal, 52, pp. 11-24

 

Werner, E. & Smith, R. 1992. Overcoming the odds: high risk children from birth to adulthood. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

 

Yarnall, J. 2008, Strategic Career Management: Developing Your Talent, Oxford: Elsevier, p.3