Updated: Feb 15, 2022
In this post, I answer a few key questions about the career optimiser. The post contains the video as well as the text.
The career optimiser is my way of addressing some of the challenges I experienced as an employee, challenges I had to overcome in my desire to commit intellectually to the various roles and jobs and to find meaning and value in what I was doing.
My experiences made me realize that a lot of people in employment are not intellectually committed to their jobs, and I believe without intellectual commitment, employees will not be able to connect with the meaning and purpose of jobs and roles and this robs them of the experiencing the happiness and fulfilment possible in those jobs and the consequential frustrations and stress have implications for families, communities and societies. I actually believe employees over time get so used to these frustrations and stress that they no longer recognize them for what they are and treat them as part and parcel of the experience with little or no effort invested in trying to reduce them.
From an organizational standpoint, lack of intellectual commitment to jobs and roles means organizations as a managed system of people supposedly engaged in coordinated activity, will continue to experience resistance to change, challenges in developing a culture of innovation, agility and collaboration, and all corporate initiatives around new ways of working and other transformation efforts will remain just that, initiatives, perpetual initiatives re-emerging year on year under new names, labels and executive sponsors.
Where did you get the idea for the career optimiser?
My career didn’t follow the usual path from school to the first job, second job and so on. My first paid job was in a small business doing something I was already doing and would probably have done even if I wasn’t paid, so the only change was getting paid to do it. In contrast, the first job I interviewed for happened when I was 33 years old which was in a large corporation. This job also happened to come after I completed my first master's program in a Human Resource Development related domain so I had a really unique perspective of institutional jobs.
I realized very quickly that unlike my experiences of jobs up until that one, jobs in a large system like a large corporation very easily lose their meaning and value and become this set of rote, repetitive and largely automatic-response activities. You need to intentionally seek out and find meaning sometimes against all odds because the system emphasizes the opposite of that and often punishes you if you seek meaning or operate with purpose. While this is no way describes every employee, team or Organisation, there are a lot of people who experience their jobs this way and most are completely unaware of it and would never describe it as I have.
I have spent years trying to understand why this is the case and this interest got me looking at all aspects of how jobs come to be, from organizational strategy, goals and structures within which jobs exist, hiring/supervising manager expectations of the job, job designs, job ads, interviewing, job objectives, job grading, performance management, performance support, concepts of high potential, leadership jobs, individual and non-individual contributor roles, career support and so on. I feel things in this area haven’t gotten extremely conceptual and unnecessarily complicated as each organization tries to repackage the same things under new names to appear unique or different from other organizations when the only difference between jobs and roles in the context of performance, the essence of the jobs and roles are generally the same.
The career optimiser is one of the things that came out of my search for meaning in institutional jobs and to define this essence of jobs and roles. At its root, it reimagines jobs, going beyond job titles and salaries. The goal is to provide a simple and consistent way for individuals to indemnify or define the meaning of the activities being performed in the job, the value of the results that can be achieved and the potential for holistic development and growth embedded within the experiences.
It does this by using a capability framework that I developed and have continued to refine over the years. The framework is simple and robust, simultaneously defining the role and the capabilities required to deliver value in the role. For more details on the framework, watch the video - “the career optimiser framework introduced”. You may also consider signing up for one or more of the programs in the library, all of them are based on the framework.
Who is the career optimiser for?
The career optimiser is designed for you as an individual. It helps you examine and profile your roles in a way that you probably haven’t done before. The framework helps you commit and engage with the role intellectually and by so doing, find new meaning in what you’re doing or what you could be doing and getting paid for.
Because it targets individuals, it means organisations can use it to help their employees engage intellectually with all the roles available in the Organisation.
Learning and development teams can use the framework to develop solutions with greater relevance, significance and impact
HR professionals, team and department leaders can use the framework to design and manage jobs that naturally emphasize meaning, purpose and capabilities
The framework can be used in all types of organizations - public, private organisations, religious, not for profit, start-ups, small, medium or large corporates, and so on.
What do you mean by "intellectual commitment" to the role?
I wrote a blog post on this recently, but I’ll summarize it here.
Intellectual commitment basically means you are committed to solving the problems your role or job has access to solving and to achieving excellence in that role (as compared with simply performing and completing the activities and tasks assigned to you or expected of you just so you can keep what you have or get what you’ve been promised). The focus on solving problems and the associated intellectual commitment actually serves as the foundation for adaptive performance, change agility, growth mindset, innovation mindset and so on.
Intellectual commitment actually comes naturally when you adopt a “crafts” or “artisan” view of your job or role which can be difficult for so-called knowledge workers.
For a deeper dive into the framework consider signing up for the programs in the library.