Help Them See How to Write Their Career Movie

“As you go through the workday, write the screenplay in your head for the movie you will eventually direct and star in — the movie about your life. Choose the actors to play each of your favorite characters. Keep breathing, and remember — this is just another scene in your movie!”

∼ Liz Ryan

A grounding exercise

I had a conversation with a colleague the other day in Kuala Lumpur and was telling her my story, that I have a file folder of every rejection letter I have ever received. Even the email rejections; I printed them out and placed them in that folder. Those rejections were the best things to ever happen to me. Every so often, especially when I return to the U.S., I open the folder and reread them. Best motivational reading ever. So, when I read the quote above, I thought of that folder because

each rejection or setback was just a “scene in a movie”; my movie.Click To Tweet

As so many people struggle to find work or the perfect job, it takes a toll when your folder begins to fill. I have had a few people tell me about offers they turned down for whatever reason, and others who  are just trying to get an offer.

The crossroad is ahead

Either way it takes a toll as we get to each career crossroad. If you have not been at that intersection, just keep on living, as my father would say. It is coming: Left, Right, Stumble forward, all viable directions, but in the end, it is your decision. I say that because you will own it, not the good friend who offered you some direction.

Your journey will, and should be driven by your desired destination.

They know what they don’t want

I have always had this theory that low employee engagement and how little connected some employees are to their job is because they have not figured out what they want to be when they grow up. They have, however, figured out that they are not into us.

When you look at turnover, and it falls into the first 1-2 years, it is because of that; your employees do not want any part of your organization. They are in process of finding their spot and it is not with you.

That is why the first 90 days of your employee’s tenure is so important.

Career help

We realized this years ago, and as part of onboarding we offered them all a career development session. This was a huge hit as a lot of our new hires were a few years out of college and in many cases, stumbling around trying to find themselves.

This assessment gave them an opportunity to step back and look more introspectively into their destination, or lack thereof. We connected them to the organization in a way that they had never seen. It became so popular we expanded it to the entire workforce.

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The consensus was that they had never been offered career counseling in a company before, or during college for that matter.

Blessing in disguise

Over time, you’ll discover that some doors close, but other doors open. What you should keep in mind when a door closes is that,  when you step back and look at things, you will realize that it was the best thing that could have happened. It is OK it did not work out.

Organizations and managers should be aware of this and use what is within their power to have career conversations as often as possible. The number one competency for managers today is to be a coach, not a manager.

The engaged organization should be in a proactive mode as it relates to its most important asset. Great managers ask, “How can I help you do your job?” A great company asks, “What can our organization do to enhance your time here?”

As the opening quote states, those doors that open and close are but scenes in your movie. Make them count. You are the director.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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