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Career counselor's guide

"Self-performed career planning" is a novel solution to planning of the work career. Competencies are viewed as 20 personified figures from a "Focuser" to an "Optimist". The person chooses competency figures characteristic of oneself with a pdf form at the Self-performed career planning lesson or using a particular "Competency figures" cardpack. Broader program version adds to the former self-image a measurement with the standardized WOPI questionnaire drawing a comprehensive, detailed competency portrait of the person. ..UNDER CONSTRUCTION


Self-image - pdf form or competency cards

cases: police officer, psychologist and salesperson

wopi measurement

UNDER CONSTRUCTION...The main ingredients in planning the work career include occupational competencies evolving from formal training as well as job specific competencies accumulated from previous job experience. The third obvious ingredient is the individual's interests and goals. So-called Basic competencies function as a guiding platform for all the former ingredients (see more in Lesson: Basic competencies). The guiding feature of Basic competencies derives from the earlier developing and slower changing motivations, ways thinking and attitudes that fuel and and give direction to all competence. The fourteen Basic competencies add up to a portrait that becomes more precise along the three self-awareness questions.

The central, identity-pertaining question in drawing a competency portrait concerns one's main role at work. Would the role of an "Independent performer", "Leader-Influencer" or "Collaborator" meet with one's innermost motivation, core interests and source of inspiration. The strength differences in the three main motivations displayed on the WOPI Basic profile offer an answer to this question (see Lesson: What is motivation?).

The core interest of Independent performers is in attaining either high quality or sizeable results in independent activities. They feel and perform best in different professional and supporting jobs and as entrepreneurs. Leaders-Influencers' core interest lies in leading others' action or their thoughts. They are at their best in supervisory or other influencing jobs. The core interest of Collaborators is in doing things with or, for others through communication, guidance and listening. They thrive in different professional and supporting jobs with emphasis on direct, face-to-face interaction.

About half of people appear as holders of one single main role while the other half reflects different combinations of two roles. Alongside strong leadership motivation, which guides the person toward the Leader-Influencer role, an individual may have an equally or fairly strong motivation for independent achievement or social interaction. In addition to "mere" leaders, some of them may be described as performing or collaborating leaders. The figure below displays the three roles and the subsumed action patterns the examination of which adds much precision to the individual’s behavioral picture.

Work roles and action patterns
Competent independent performance includes both a focused, quality-seeking and a competitive, results-seeking action pattern. Focused and quality-seeking behavior is needed in jobs with more circumscribed responsibilities, which require highly finished outcomes pursued along controlled, even-paced and unidirectional steps. Examples include technical specialist and supporting jobs as well as independent professionals. Competitive and results-seeking behavior is needed in jobs with less circumscribed responsibilities and where sizeable, quantitative results are sought along longer, more risk-taking and multi-directional steps. Examples of such include sales and private entrepreneurs. Professionals are often described as either quality or results seekers.

Competent leadership-influencing incorporates both action leading and thought leading patterns. Action leadership is needed in supervisory jobs as well as in different jobs involving strong direction or control of others' behavior. Thought leadership is needed in supervisory jobs but also in many positions that involve inspiring and leading others' thoughts and feelings such as in marketing and promotion. Managers are often described as either action or thought leaders.

Competent collaboration includes three action patterns or collaboration subprocesses the competence value of which depends on the job. Communication and coordination jobs call for active communication with others. Care and educational jobs require active guidance of others. Customer service in turn involves genuine listening to, and serving others. The collaboration style of managers, professionals and support personnel may under- or overemphasize one or some of the three subprocesses.

Planning and problem solving

Work roles and action patterns are about behavior in the world of things and people. Today it is growingly important to understand "brainwork", behavior in the world of information which at work means planning and problem solving. It can be viewed as a two-lane road where one lane draws upon existing, previously known processes while the other lane targets at new processes. The sum score on the Ways of Thinking on the WOPI profile indicates the "lane" that the individual tilts at in his/her planning and problem solving activities (see Lesson: What are ways of thinking?). Travelers of the two lanes can be described respectively as "Implementers" and "Innovators".

Both lanes are needed but their competence value varies with each industry and ultimately, each job. Administrative and security jobs embrace time-proven existing processes but product development, strategy and marketing crave for new processes. Although there are "pure" Implementers and Innovators, individuals' planning and problem solving tends to include both kind of processes. That is, Implementers who prefer existing processes may deploy new processes and Innovators may include well-proven existing processes in their planning and problem solving.

The picture of planning and problem solving or, the portrait of the individual as an "information processor" gains much in precision when it is examined along the four consecutive steps. Namely, plans and problems are (a) approached, (b) perceived, (c) produced solutions to, and finally (d) implemented. Behavior on each step promotes either existing or new processes. The figure below displays the two lanes and four steps in planning and problem solving.

Planning & problem solving


The last question of self-awareness concerns the individual's viewing of the world and oneself. Perhaps of central importance is the individual's affinity to stable vs. mobile environments. Because stable work environments incorporate recurring processes, competence is marked by the individual's ability to perceive irregularities, such as in administrative work or the control room. In mobile work environments, processes vary frequently and competence stems from curiosity toward all new and different as in expatriate and creative work. Realism vs. optimism and self-reflection represent competencies depending on the target job. See the three viewings in figure below.

Answering the questions concerning the three broad competence areas - behavior, planning & problem solving and viewing - will lead to the eventual portrait of Basic competencies, see figure below.

Portrait of basic competencies

Portrait of basic competencies

Creating the portrait

So, self-awareness is being aware of one’s work role and action patterns, planning and problem solving habits, preferred work environments and other viewings. The outline for the portrait emerges along the question whether it is most important for oneself to excel in independent activities (Independent performer), lead and influence others (Leader-Influencer) or, first and foremost to do things with or, for other people (Collaborator). One's work role can also represent different combinations of the three main roles. The question pertaining planning and problem solving is whether it is typical of oneself to implement well-proven existing processes (Implementer) or to create altogether new processes (Innovator). The outline of the portrait reaches closure with the question whether one feels happier in a stable and predictable or a mobile and highly variable work environment.

The portrait's behavioral portion is further specified by attending to the action patterns positioned under the three work roles. The specifying question on the "Independent performer" is whether it is more typical for oneself to focus intensely on things and seek quality or, compete and pursue sizeable results? In examining the action patterns one should consider them all, positioned under the three work roles as one's behavior profile may be composed of action patterns from the three different work roles. The portrait's planning and problem solving portion gains in precision through shifting the attention on the four consecutive steps: style of approaching things, perceiving them, seeking solutions and implementing the solutions. In addition to a pleasing work environment, other viewings may be clarified by examining the behavioral significance of a realistic vs. optimistic attitude and one's interest in self-reflection.

Waking the portrait to life

A mere test profile with driver headings and numerical scores remains a rather pallid and lifeless description of one’s competence potential. The inspection of high and low scores is only in halfway toward self-awareness. The driver headings turn into real self-awareness along finding behavior parallels for the drivers. Self-awareness is attained when the individual can identify driver-led behavior patterns in his or her everyday life. Reaching the experiential level is also a precondition to waking up the individual's genuine development motivation.

The drivers are connected to everyday behaviors either along the Basic profile from top down or, by attending to those drivers that differ from the profile's mid-line and then look for behavior parallels. The first way is good in that the crucial personal interest may spark upon a driver that doesn’t differ strongly from the mid-line.

The drivers always steer sets of different behavior facets not exhaustible by single profile terms or brief technical descriptions in the Quick Reference. As an example, the expression ”focused, quality-seeking behavior” may not ring a bell for the individual. However, the word ”perfectionism” may lead to identifying the pursued driver-behavior connection. In exploring behavior parallels it is useful to draw upon the richer behavioral descriptions in the Broad Interpretation document.

A good way of inspecting the drivers and their behavioral parallels is to carry out comparisons within each competence area, for example by asking how quality vs. results orientation might manifest itself in one’s independent activities, how would the three sub-processes of collaboration show in one's cooperation, etc.

The value of self-awareness

Although self-awareness is most important to the single individual, it bears significant value for work organizations. The consultant company Korn & Ferry (2015) mapped out the “blind spots” among nearly 7000 professionals in 486 listed companies, comparing them to the company's stock value. Blind spots were defined as gaps between the professionals' self-reports on their core competencies and reports given by their co-workers. Companies with highest rate of return showed significantly less blind spots among their professionals. According to a blog title published in Harvard Business Review in 2018, self-awareness can help leaders more than an MBA can (HBR 2018). A recent article (Rubens et al., 2018) guides in implementing self-awareness programs in MBA and similar educational settings. Organizations should encourage and provide opportunities for their personnel to carry out self-directed exploration of their careers and competencies.

Korn & Ferry on Self-awareness (2015). https://www.kornferry.com/press/korn-ferry-institute-study-shows-link-between-self-awareness-and-company-financial-performance.
HBR on Self-awareness (2018). https://hbr.org/2018/01/self-awareness-can-help-leaders-more-than-an-mba-can.
Rubens, A., Schoenfeld, G.A., Schaffer, B.S. & Leah, J.S. (2018). Self-awareness and leadership: Developing an individual strategic professional development plan in an MBA leadership course. The International Journal of Management Education. 16, 1-13.


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