Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Key to unlocking your career potential - Part II

In the part I of this article, I had stated that to fully understand yourself, to tap into your career potential, you have to analyse five areas. I had explained the first area - Attitudes towards and motivation for work.

Environment in which you wish to work is the second key to realising your career potential.
Deciding where you belong
Deciding where you belong holds great interest for some people and little interest for others. A HR professional stated that she would only be happy working at a hotel or resort. On the other hand, a computer professional stated that it did not matter whether he worked for an aerospace corporation or a flower shop as long as he was able to work with what he loved - namely computers.

A work environment is both a tangible set of physical assets and an intangible way of behaving. The tangible set includes such items as arena, industry and size. The intangible way of behaving refers to organizational culture.
Here I will give a set of exercise to help you point out the distinct preference for a certain environment.
Let us first look at the tangible choices
Tangible Choices
1) Arenas
An arena is the largest description within the work environment. It involves the following sectors:
  • Business
  • Non profit
  • Education and
  • Government
As in Part I, take a blank sheet of paper and a pen and write down all that you are interested in from the above list.
2) Industries
  • Aesthetic, Cultural
  • Biomedical or Biotechnical
  • Business or Corporate
  • Computer
  • Design
  • Entertainment/Media/Broadcasting
  • Fashion/Image
  • Financial
  • Governmental
  • Healthcare/Nutrition/Fitness
  • Hospital/Medical
  • Hotel/Leisure/Recreation
  • High Technology
  • Food
  • Educational
  • Political
  • Real Estate/Development
  • Construction
  • Retail
  • Restaurant
  • Telecommunications
  • Consumer Goods
  • Textile
  • Manufacturing
  • Sports/Leisure
  • Travel/Transportation
  • Utilities/Energy
  • Consulting
  • Computer Graphics
  • Home-Based business
  • Small Business/Franchise
Now select those industries from the list above which you are interested in getting involved with and write it on the blank sheet of paper you have in front of you. Your response to both this activity and the one concerning arenas is emotional, based on whether or not you like the industries or arenas listed. It is a starting point meant to trigger ideas. look at the industries and arenas you selected. Did you select them because of actual experiences you had or because of perceptions about the industry or arena ? Maybe an uncle owned a franchise and made big bucks. His story appeals to you. But would you really enjoy that opportunity ?
Likewise, question yourself concerning the industries or arenas you did not select from the above list.
3) Size
The size of the organization you work for is also critical to some people. Do you desire a small, young organisation where you can play many roles and have an impact on the direction and development of a group ? Or do you prefer a larger and older organization that has direction, stability, history and prestige? Such an organization can also provide you with many avenues of growth simply because of size.
Check which size of an organization you prefer.
  • Small : 1-99 employees
  • Medium: 100-500 employees
  • Large : 500+ employees
Don't overlook intangibles
Choosing arenas, industries and size are the tangibles within a work environment. Once you have chosen them, you're ready to look at the intangibles - the organizational culture that dictates how those in the organization behave. This is not information that you will find in the annual report. You would have to observe it in the hallways and the cubicles and hang out in the parking lot as the employees talk about their day.
What you will discover in determining an organization's culture is both the formal structure of the organization and the informal norms and values. Think about what environment you'd like in terms of how the people behave, communicate, look, and work together. Do you prefer an environment that is tightly structured and has a formal chain of command, or would you function better in a looser, more enterpreneurial environment ?
Would you be inclined to choose an environment where employees dress more formally and business-like, or one where workers follow an informal dress code ? Answering questions like these puts you in the position of knowing what you want.
Now on the sheet of paper, describe your ideal environment. Consider both the tangible and intangible factors.

If you know where you want to work, you only need directions for getting there. If a particular environment interests you, you will have a good starting point from which to direct your career inquiries. If you don't have much of an opinion one way or the other, your pool of possibilities will be much larger. It's unquestionably an individual choice that leads to a clearer definition of your ideal career.
Also see Part I of this article.

To be continued ...

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