Tag Archives: self-assessment

Women’s Career Development Model – Individual Action in Career Planning and the Contest and Sponsorship Pathways to Advancement – Part 1 of 2

Ines Wichert

Ines Wichert

Ines Wichart of Kenexa High Performance Institute (KHPI), a subsidiary of IBM, proposed a model of women’s career development that focuses on:

  • The individual
  • The immediate work environment
  • The organizational context

She identified four behaviors that individuals can execute to increase the likelihood of career advancement:

  • Career planning 
  • Opportunity-seeking, Negotiation
  • Career-building networking; Mentoring-Sponsorship     
  • Skillful self-promotion
Ralph Turner

Ralph Turner

Kenexa Career Development Model-Individual Behaviors

Kenexa Career Development Model-Individual Behaviors

Within the domain of Career Planning, Ralph Turner, then of UCLA, proposed two ways that people advance their careers based on measures of promotions obtained and progression in the organizational hierarchy:

  • Contest Pathway is an open, merit-based system that enables career advancement by evaluating past accomplishments and impact

    Kenexa Career Progression Pathways- Contest and Sponsorship

    Kenexa Career Progression Pathways- Contest and Sponsorship

  • Sponsorship Pathway is a closed system in which candidates for advancement are chosen by senior leaders based “promotability” or “future potential“ to undertake and excel in future challenges
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

More than a century and a half ago, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow anticipated this distinction between the the contest and sponsorship pathways when he proposed how people assess  their performance:
We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.”

Thomas Ng

Thomas Ng

Lillian Eby

Lillian Eby

More recent work by Thomas Ng and Kelly Sorensen, then of University of Georgia with their colleagues Lillian Eby and Daniel Feldman, found that women excel in the Contest Pathway, which requires:

Daniel Feldman

Daniel Feldman

  • Initiative
  • Risk-taking
  • Perseverance  
Amy Hurley Hanson

Amy Hurley Hanson

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld

In contrast, Amy Hurley-Hanson of Chapman University and Yale’s Jeffrey Sonnenfeld  as well as Cranfield’s Susan Vinnicombe and Val Singh found that men tend to excel in the Sponsorship Pathway, based on:

Susan Vinnicombe

Susan Vinnicombe

  • Val Singh

    Val Singh

    Skillful networking

  • Visibility
  • Reputation for delivering outstanding results
  • Promoting accomplishments  
Philip Roth

Philip Roth

Philip Bobko

Philip Bobko

Another reason that women are not part of the Sponsorship Pathway as frequently as men is that women are less likely to be viewed as “promotable” even though men and women are rated equally effective as leaders, according to findings by Philip Roth of Clemson University, Kristen Purvis then of Cornell University, Philip Bobko of Gettysburg College.

  • How have you seen the Contest Pathway and the Sponsorship Pathway operate in your career advancement?
  • How do you “actively manage” your career toward advancement in the Contest Pathway or the Sponsorship Pathway?

Next: Women’s Career Development Model – Part 2 of 2Negotiation, Networking-Mentoring-Sponsorship, Skillful Self-Promotion

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©Kathryn Welds

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How Well Do Today’s Career Choices Endure Over Time?

Donald Clifton

Donald Clifton

Career development and job search are founded on uncovering individual skills, competencies, strengths, capabilities, interests and likes.

This discovery can involve introspective “personal archaeology,” often enabled by standardized career and personality assessment tools.

However, social science research suggests that it is difficult to “know” preference – career and otherwise – in order to map this “supply” to the “demand” in available career roles.

Gilbert Ryle

Gilbert Ryle

More than 60 years ago, acclaimed Oxford University philosopher Gilbert Ryle foreshadowed the philosophical and cognitive problems entailed in “knowing one’s own mind.”

Rene Descartes

Rene Descartes

Ryle considered how people acquire attitudes, traits, and their dispositions to act in The Concept of Mind  , an erudite attack on Cartesian dualism of mind and body

Daryl Bem

Daryl Bem

Two decades later, Daryl Bem of Cornell University substituted laboratory research for Ryle’s philosophical reasoning, and demonstrated that people may not know what they like or their skills until they observe their behavior in studies of “self-perception theory.”

Bem found that people draw inferences about who they are and they “become what they do,” particularly when people are not certain of what they think or feel, and when they believe that they freely chose to behave as they did.

Bruce Hood

Bruce Hood

Bruce Hood of University of Bristol expanded the self-perception argument to posit that “the self” is an illusion, so it is difficult to “know” what the “self” likes, values, and prefers.

However, behaviors can be shaped and constrained by external social standards:  People learn to become themselves by interacting with others, according to Charles Horton Cooley, who coined the term “the looking glass self” more than a century ago.

Charles Horton Cooley

Charles Horton Cooley

Therefore, people may choose a career acceptable to parents or social observers who attribute “respect” and “prestige.”

Hood showed that the fluid process of constructing the self is a created narrative which is experienced as “a cohesive, integrated character.”
Since the “self” is constructed, it changes over time, and people significantly and consistently underestimate how much they will change in the future.

This finding has important implications for anyone seeking to distill values, strengths, and preference a job search “elevator speech,” “value proposition,” and “pitch.”

Introspection, therefore, offers limited career insight and guidance: People need to see how they respond, then infer attitudes and preferences for career and other life choices.
This argues for taking exploratory action to “try on” choices, such as in “realistic job previews” found in internships and other on-the-job experiences.

The challenge to career development and decision-making doesn’t end there.
Even if it’s possible to infer preferences from one’s behavior, those inferences are likely to change – a lot – over time.
This means that today’s career may not change in synchrony with one’s personal changes.

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel T. Gilbert and Jordi Quoidbach of Harvard collaborated with Timothy D. Wilson of the University of Virginia demonstrated this shift in in personalities, values, and preferences over decades of life – and people’s underestimate of these changes – and called it the “end of history illusion.”

Jordi Quoidbach

Jordi Quoidbach

They surveyed more than 19,000 people ages 18 to 68 and found that  young people, middle-aged people, and older people all believed they had changed a lot in the past decade but would change relatively little in the future decade.

Timothy Wilson

Timothy Wilson

The researchers reported that the typical 20-year-old woman participant’s predictions for her next decade were not nearly as radical as the typical 30-year-old woman’s recollection of how much she had changed in her 20s, with this trend holding for volunteers into their 60s.

They found that participants were able to accurately recall personality changes that correlated well expected results, based on independent research charting of personality trait shifts with age.

Gilbert, Quoidbach and Wilson conducted lab studies that found people tend to overpay for future opportunities to indulge their current preferences due to this “end of history” illusion.
This trend may have significant consequences when choices involve potential life partners, long-term financial commitments, and career choices.

These researchers suggest that people underestimate future changes because people may be threatened by the idea that current values and preferences are transitory.
They speculate that such a realization may lead people to doubt many decisions, and experience decision-slowing due to anxiety.

An alternate explanation is that the mental energy required to imagine future changes exceed the effort of recalling the past, so “people may confuse the difficulty of imagining personal change with the unlikelihood of change itself.”

Dan McAdams

Dan McAdams

Dan McAdams of Northwestern University seconded this view and added, “The end-of-history effect may represent a failure in personal imagination,” based on his observations of how people construct stories about their past and future lives in Identity and Story: Creating Self in Narrative (The Narrative Study of Lives).
He noticed that many people tell complex, dynamic stories about the past but then make vague, prosaic projections of a future similar to the present.

These findings suggest that introspection and standardized assessment instruments may have more value when coupled with observing one’s actual behavior and reflected impressions from others.

Additionally, it is wise to:

  • Anticipate the value of changing, expanding, or modifying one’s job role over time
  • Develop a wide array of transferrable skills, applicable across a variety of domains to increase the breadth of options for later preferences.
  • How do you uncover or infer your career strengths and preferences?
  • How do you monitor a possible “end of history” illusion when making career plans?

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©Kathryn Welds