Tag Archives: Development

Renegotiate Your Future

Lifetime employment is a thing of the past — it’s gone. So gone in fact, 20-somethings look at you funny when you even mention the concept.

Today, our ‘forever-and-ever‘ jobs have been replaced by “what have you done for me lately” or even worse, “…who are you and what do you do around here?”

Let’s face it, our professional self-worth is under assault. Our jobs, the thing we do for a third of our waking lives, can be phased out, outsourced or simply left out of the latest reorganization with the brush of an eraser.

Work is a big part of our lives and therefore who we are and if our jobs, our professional contributions, can be so easily brushed away, our self-respect can’t be far behind.

Sure, lifetime employment may not even be desirable by an evermore mobile, evermore virtual society, but what’s taken its place?

Our research indicates–not much.

The NEW DEAL of work-life feels more like a hippie love affair, “let’s not put chains on each other, let’s just hang out as long as it feels good.”

I say, enough is enough, it’s time to renegotiate our future and take charge of our own professional development. In a recent survey, readers gave us some interesting insights, making it clear that organizations have washed their hands of professional development.

Here’s an example. Nearly all respondents reported that they participate in an annual review process BUT 80% also indicated that their leadership development program had no connection to the feedback from their evaluation. In most cases, employees were simply left to pick and choose developmental activities based on interest. Worse yet, as I share these findings with executive leaders around the county, the facts are met with confirming nods.

So there it is… if we want to take charge of our futures,

If we want to insure against indiscriminate and sudden job loss,

If we desire something more from tomorrow than we got today…

Then, we need to create and control our own professional development!

Over the next weeks and months, I’ll be sharing how people across the world are doing just that–living lives that are richer, fuller and more rewarding–without the worry that tomorrow’s opportunities will pass them by.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and questions at Jeff@jeffkaplan.com

Until next week, STAY CONNECTED!


It’s a Puppy-Kicking World…

Dr. Clark Quinn “wants you to join him in a revolution to overthrow the crap that our once proud profession has come to.”

Writing to an audience of fellow Training and Development professionals, you might think Dr. Quinn speaks from the fringe, but he expressed his outrage in a book he co-published with the American Society of Training and Development – the profession’s governing body.

The assessment seems especially harsh in light of the fact that corporate training investment has posted double-digit increases since 2011, bringing the total annual cost to $130B worldwide.

This week, I am asking for your help to investigate professional development from the perspective of those it’s intended to benefit – you!

Our goal is to receive feedback from 1,000 professionals, so I’m not only asking you to complete the questionnaire, but to encourage others to do so as well.

The survey is anonymous, contains only 10 questions and will take you less than 5 minutesto complete end-to-end… so… pretty please!

As Quinn says, “it’s a puppy-kicking world out there” but with your help, we’ll get a glimpse into how everyday people view the leadership development efforts in their organizations and maybe learn a few things to make it better for all of us!

Click HERE to go to the survey!

Until next week, stay connected.

P.S.: No actual or figurative dog kicking occurred in the writing of this blog.


Where’s the Love?

The new world order of business is rewriting the social contract between organizations and employees.

Shifts in Employee Responsibility:

Death of Permanence: What got us here won’t get us there.

Guarantee of Lifetime Employment: Your value to your organization is relative. While you may be indispensable today, that’s no guarantee of how you, your skills or your contributions will be viewed tomorrow.

Rise of Self-Directed Development:  By the time a freshman in business graduates, what they’ll learn in their freshman and sophomore years will be largely irrelevant to the business environment they’ll be entering. More than ever before, it’s not what you’ve learned, but your ability TO learn and deal with ambiguity that will drive your career.

At this point you may be thinking, where’s the love?  Why has all the responsibility moved to me? You may feel like employees ‘drew the short straw’ in this new deal. And you wouldn’t be alone.

However, employers are facing some pretty big challenges of their own…

Shifts in Employer Responsibility:

Oh Won’t You Stay Just a Little Bit Longer: If organizations aren’t willing to offer lifetime employment, employees are always going to have an ear to the ground for other potential opportunities. Recruiting the best talent and engaging them in work that fills their hearts and minds, as well as their pocketbooks, is a far cry from the days of show-up, shut-up and do-it-our-way.

Development in the Age of Self-Development: Among the most difficult challenges for organizational designers, strategists and human resource professionals is determining how to support the development of people largely tasked with their own development.  While the perfect answer has yet to be found, our research shows two universals do apply:

  1. Focus on Strategic Objectives: Every effort, every class, every learning opportunity must be focused on how to connect individual contributions to the overarching organizational goals. The bigger the organization, the more difficult this task becomes.
  2. Keep Development Efforts Centralized: It is great to have cross-functional teams, to co-develop solutions with customers and to empower departmental leaders to drive their business as they see fit — BUT — always remember that the stable link between organizational goals and individual action is built and maintained through your learning and development efforts. Resist the temptation to fragment the effort by allowing multiple individual and potential conflicting programs to spring up. Keep it central and bring your learning and development personnel to the strategic table – they are the catalysts that will turn strategy into action.

As always, your thoughts and comments are encouraged. I can be reached directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

Earning a Seat at the Cool Kid’s Table

In many ways, business is simply high school on steroids, where fitting in means playing it cool. Want a seat at the cool kid’s table? Get a point-of-view that allows for the fact that you do not, cannot and never will know everything.

The executive team had flown in from Europe. The meeting was a big deal. One of our top two global partners was going to announce a major shift in strategy that would not only change the market dynamics, but in some cases place us in direct competition. The executive briefing lasted almost 9 hours. It was death by PowerPoint with so many new TLAs (three-letter acronyms) sprinkled in that no one in the audience had a clear understanding of either what was said or its implications.

Remarkably, no one raised a hand to say, “What the heck are you talking about?” As the meeting ended and we flowed out into the halls, the anxiety was clear. One executive leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Did you understand any of that?”

Working in Asia, I learned that the Q&A interplay we take for granted here in the West is considered impolite to the presenter. During one of my presentations, I spurred the audience to share their perspectives and one young man summoned the nerve to raise his hand. From his comment, it was clear that’s he’d misunderstood one small part of the content and my response clarified the concept for him. After that, there wasn’t a single question, comment or raised hand. Culturally, the young man had taken a big risk in questioning me and when I corrected him, I’d unknowingly shamed him publically.

The two experiences have much in common, chief of which is that there is an unwritten rule in business that it’s better to keep quiet than to admit you don’t know or understand. It’s unlikely this rule will change anytime soon, but here are two things you can do to increase your understanding and keep your reputation in tact.

#1. Build a personal business dictionary.  Make a quick list of the 10 or 20 buzzwords floating around your organization (leadership, management, strategy, you name it) and write out what each one means to you. You don’t have to be correct or perfect as you can always adjust your thinking as you work with the concepts.

#2. Clarify by offering meaning.  Leaders are makers of meaning, so instead of asking what a concept means, offer your understanding of the concept and ask for confirmation. This is where your personal business dictionary comes in. The approach positions you as someone with a point-of-view and places you at the center of a conversation that may provide high-value clarification for others in the room.

Soon, you’ll be sitting at the cool kid’s table where you belong!