The Career Model works with the dynamic matching of individuals to specific
situations and organizational cultures and asks two main questions:
- Does the organizational culture fit the people's motivational profiles?
- Do the people's career profiles fit the strategic needs of the organization?
On the individual side the model gives guidance on questions such as
- What really motivates you the most in your work life?
- How do you view your ideal career path?
- How well does your view of the ideal career path fit your underlying motivation?
- Do you have any unrecognized motivation potentials?
On the organizational culture side the model gives guidance on questions such as
- How do the members view the organization's:
- performance appraisal?
- reward system?
- How well do these cultural components support each other?
- Is there different subcultures between business areas, levels, nationalities, etc.?
What is a "successful career"?
Ask several persons this question and you will get many different answers. People's perspectives on careers vary in terms of, for example, how long one would ideally stay in the same occupational field, or which direction one's career should develop. This variety of views regarding "career success" creates human resource threats and opportunities. There is a risk of misunderstanding one another if career differences are not acknowledged. This can happen when an organization offers someone a career path that is believed to be rewarding, but a given person might view as more or less a nightmare. Effective managers instead find ways to accommodate differences in individual career orientations and thereby tap into powerful sources of work motivation.
Based on more than 30 years of research on career dynamics, Professor Michael Driver and Dr. Kenneth Brousseau have identified four main Career Concepts or views of the ideal career.
The EXPERT Career Concept is the most stable and historically dominant view of a successful career as being a lifelong commitment to a profession with which one identifies (one is an engineer, a teacher, or a farmer, etc.). Success is a process of continually mastering the knowledge and skills of the profession.
The LINEAR Career Concept is instead focussed on rapid movement upward the "corporate ladder". A successful career is made by gaining increased levels of responsibility, authority, etc. Success is made as one achieves these higher levels.
The SPIRAL Career Concept is a less traditional view where one rather discovers one's career (in contrast to the Expert's being and Linear's making their careers) through periodic (5-10 years) lateral changes of occupational fields. These changes tend to involve development of broader skills and new applications of previous experience.
The TRANSITORY Career Concept is the most change-oriented and least conventional view, even to the extent that many consider it as not even a career. The more different a job change, and the more frequent the changes, the better according to this "consistent pattern of inconsistency" perspective on careers.
People also differ in terms of what may motivate us at work. People with Expert motives value Expertise & Security, while people with Linear motives value Power & Achievement. Personal Growth & Creativity is motivating for people with Spiral motives, while people with Transitory motives prefer Variety & Independence.
Consequently, a "stable" expert career path is "motivational heaven" for one person (Expert Motives) and "hell" for another (Transitory Motives). Managing human resources effectively demands understanding how people's career motives differ.
Individual Profile of the Career Concept and Motives
The Career Concept Questionnaire measures an individual's full set of Career Concepts and Motives. A sample assessment (for Joe) is shown to the left.
Joe's four Career Concept scores are displayed in the front row. Apparently, Joe believes the Linear concept to reflect career "success" followed by the Spiral concept. Expert and Transitory careers he believes not to be the "path" to success.
However, turning to Joe's underlying Career Motives (back row), he apparently values work opportunities which reflect Expert career orientations (security and expertise).
In other words, Joe is likely to accept Linear promotions upwards, but he is not likely to be motivated by them. His career profile suggests he would be wiser (and happier) to aim more towards his unrecognized Expert motivation potential.
Your talents as an individual depends on - among other things - your Career Motives. Some of the Career Competencies related to the four Concepts and Motives are displayed in the table below and clearly shows - from an organizational perspective - the benefit of pluralistic organizations that support and utilize all four columns of competencies.
The Career Competencies 360º is a "360"-instrument measuring for example how you yourself rate your competencies in relation to for example your superiors, peers or customers rating of your competencies. The Career Competencies 360º is used for developing competence profiles for individuals, positions, and organizations.
Organizational Career Culture
Not surprisingly, companies also vary strongly in terms of their strategies, structures, performance appraisal and reward systems that make up their Organizational Career Cultures. The table below shows how this organizational variation can be categorized in a complementary way to individual Career Concepts. Knowing how one views the ideal career as well as one's underlying motivation, and being able to discuss them in the simple language of the Career Concept model are valuable steps towards refining career development.
However, career development is not only attained by helping others understand their own motives and perceptions of "success". Career paths are also highly defined by one's work organization. Greater career self-awareness is not sufficient for an organization to perform effectively. It is also highly important to examine the organizational side of career development in order to optimize individual and corporate outcomes.
The Organizational Career Culture Survey measures the Expert, Linear, Spiral, and Transitory orientations of corporate strategy, structure, performance appraisal and reward systems.
The Modem Management Inc (MMI) shows a Linear strategy (that is, growth-oriented); a Spiral structure (matrix organization.); Expert performance appraisal factors (such as quality); and Transitory reward system (such as direct bonus). This suggests that there is a high improvement potential in better managing the inconsistencies. MMI apparently offers mostly Transitory rewards, for Expert behavior, in a Spiral structure, driven by a Linear strategy.
The members of the sample company were mostly positive about their strategy as illustrated by the highest level of "goodness" in the right column of the cultural profile. That is, they rated the mainly Linear strategy as being greatly effective, while they considered the primarily Expert performance appraisal to be of little to moderate relevance and the least "good" cultural component (which in turn points toward high potential to improve).
Cultural inconsistencies are often "solved" by aligning the components according to one primary orientation, such as Linear (that is, a growth strategy with a tall pyramid structure, profit-oriented performance appraisal and promotion as the main reward). Unfortunately, such monolithic solutions tend to create only one winner for every three losers and thereby waste valuable motivational energy and competencies than pluralistic solutions that include multiple cultural orientations.