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Career Management: Traditional Career Vs. Protean Career

Career Management

Career management is conscious planning of one’s activities and engagements in the jobs one undertakes in the course of his life for better fullfilment, growth and financial stability. It is a sequential process that starts from an understanding of oneself and encompasses occupational awareness.

An individual’s career is the sole source of one’s natural expression of self. One school of thought describes work as the purpose of life and the source of one’s expression and the purpose of being or existence. Yet others believe that there is a wide difference between an individual’s career and his life. In any case, career is an integral component of one’s life and therefore the need for its management.

Career management is more or less like the organisational management; after all an organization is nothing but an assortment of individuals! The process of career management begins with the formulation of goals and objectives those that are short term or meant to be achieved in the short run.

This is a tedious task compared to a long term career goal which is more or visionary in nature. Since the objective is short term or immediate, it is more of action oriented. Second it demands achievement every day, every moment. Again this step can be very difficult for those who are not aware of the opportunities available or are not completely conscious of their talents. However more specific, measurable and achievable the goals greater are the chances of the management plan bearing fruit.

Achievement of goal requires a well chalked strategy, which implies a plan of action to achieve the goal. This has to be followed by drafting or establishment of procedures / policies / norms or rules that govern action or practice.

Objectives of Career Management

Career management programmes encompass a large number of these human resource management practices with the following objectives:

(i) Assisting employees to improve their performance: Career management programmes strive to involve employees in setting their own goals and recognizing their strengths and weaknesses. It assists employees with the identification and facilitation of training needs and opportunities. This is mainly achieved by building a process of feedback and discussion into the performance management systems of institutions.

(ii) Clarifying available career options: Through career management programmes employees are informed of career options available within the institution. It assists employees with the identification of skills and other qualities required for current and future jobs. Most career management programmes seek to focus employees career plans upon the institution, thereby enhancing their commitment to the institution. In doing this, career paths are developed that indicate mobility in different directions in the institution for employees.

(iii) Aligning the aspiration of employees with organizational objectives: Many organizations attempt to assist employees in their career planning through career management programmes. Career management programmes furthermore seek to improve the matching of jobs with the right employees. An assessment of the skills and competencies of employees could assist in accommodating them in positions that suit them better. Through the application of practices such as transfers and rotation, an institution’s operational effectiveness can be improved. Career management programmes can also result in a reduction in the need to recruit externally as employees with the required capabilities are revealed through their career planning activities.

Benefits of Career Management

  • Staffing inventories: Effective career management ensure a continuous supply of professional, technical and managerial talent for the fulfillment of organisational goal.
  • Staffing from within: Most organisations like to promote employees from within for available positions because of the many potential advantages. In order to recruit from within, it requires a strong career management programme that ensures effective performance of employees in their new jobs.
  • Solving staffing problems: Effective career management may serve as a remedy for certain staffing problems. Rate of employee turnover can be slashed because of the feeling that there is existence of opportunity within the organisation. It may be easier to go for new recruitment as the company develops its employees and provides better career opportunities.
  • Satisfying employee needs: The current generation of employees are very different from those of past generation in terms of their set of needs. Again higher levels of education have raised their career expectations and many of the employees hold their employers directly responsible in providing better opportunities for realization of their career expectations.
  • Enhanced motivation: Since, progression along the career path is directly related to job performance, an employee is likely to be motivated and perform at peak levels to accomplish career goals.
  • Employment equity: Effective career management demand fair and equitable recruitment, selection and placement and try to eliminate discriminatory practices concerning promotions and career mobility. Such type of affirmative programmes contains formal provisions that become helpful for enhancement of the career mobility of women and other minorities groups emphasizing employment equity.

Traditional Career

Traditional careers promise much in terms of extrinsic rewards. They are often perceived as less risky. Traditional careers also provide a ready-made platform for social connection and recognition. When one becomes a physician, for instance, she is instantly granted a certain social status. Professions such as medicine also provide a support network of colleagues as well as pre-formed pathways for professional development. A potential downside to traditional careers is they require a willingness to compromise individual interests and preferences in favor of collective rules and standards.

Objective of Traditional Career

  • More collective & extrinsic in focus
  • Less autonomy & independence.
  • Thought to provide greater financial stability, as well as a quicker route to social or professional endorsement/status.
  • Require dealing with frustrating or seemingly arbitrary tasks.

Protean Career

The protean career is a name given to describe a career that is driven by the individual and not by the organization. The concept of the protean career dates to 1976, when in the book Careers in Organizations, Douglas T. Hall noted an emerging type of career form that was less dependent upon the organization in terms of defining success or achieving certain outcomes.

The most central characteristic of the protean career is that it is a reflection and manifestation of the individual career actor. An individual with a protean career—or one who is protean—is thought to put self-fulfillment and psychological success above concerns and norms that would have their source outside of the individual. Psychological success is considered to be subjective success on the person’s “own terms” in contrast to “objective” success that might be measured or defined externally (e.g., by salary or promotions). While a protean career might be identified externally as a definable career pattern, the literature and this entry are primarily concerned with how the career is enacted, managed, defined, and evaluated from the individual’s subjective perspective.

Two broad dimensions of the protean career are:

(1) A values-driven career orientation and

(2) Self-directed career management.

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