Fired? Tired? Mired?

A model for mutual investment in individual development

by Russ Westcott

Need to get going on that job search? Can't stand the boring sameness of your present job? Stuck, with no place to go? Maybe it's time to think about your marketability.

Your professional development is your responsibility. You have to seek the right environment and then proactively make professional development happen. You probably wouldn't be reading this column if you didn't have some interest in developing your career. Let's look at some of the opportunities you should consider in making a change or looking for stimuli to get you moving where you are now.

The model in Figure 1 (p. 106) has been successfully used for more than 30 years in a variety of industries and sizes of organization in educating management on ways to support the development of professionals. It is of equal value in pointing out opportunities individuals should seek.

In a progressive organization, selection of an individual is based on his or her growth potential (center of the model). The individual brings a multifaceted background: life and work experiences, education, capabilities, personality traits and personal aspirations. The roughly drawn center symbol suggests these many facets and that the picture would differ from person to person.

The first concentric ring after the center shows some of the opportunities management can support to enable the individual's development and growth. The outermost ring represents examples of the potential outcomes the individual may obtain as he or she develops.

The inward-pointing arrows represent the investment the organization must make for the individual to achieve her or his potential. It is a conceptual model and makes no attempt to list every conceivable growth enabler.

Using the analogy of a garden, for plants to blossom a plan is needed. The best seed must be selected and sown, the right nutrients must be applied, and the conditions for growth must be right. Weeding, pruning and sometimes replanting will be required. But the plants must grow on their own, and both the plant and the gardener will benefit.

Economic downturns, layoffs and world shattering events with associated personal distress can be viewed as signals to either hunker down or go forth and seek new opportunities. Flexibility and versatility sustained by a portfolio of diverse professional achievements can go a long way toward building your new career--or enhancing your present one.

RUSSELL T. WESTCOTT is president of the Offerjost-Westcott Group, a division of R.T. Westcott & Associates, in Old Saybrook, CT, that specializes in providing work life planning, guidance and coaching. He co-edited the Certified Quality Manager Hand-book, second edition, the Certified Quality Manager Section Refresher Training Course and the Quality Improvement Handbook, all published by ASQ. Westcott is an ASQ Fellow, certified quality auditor and certified quality manager.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE to comment on this article, please post your remarks on the Quality Progress Discussion Board at www.asqnet.org, or e-mail them to editor@asq.org.

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