Robert Segall, author of the new book It’s Their Job But It’s Your Career: The Underground Guide to Career Success,  is on a mission.
A veteran human resources executive and founder of human resources firm Career Underground, Segall sent me a review copy and explained his inspiration for the career guide for professionals. He noted that the contract between employee and employer is broken. That viewpoint on the implicit employment contract resounds throughout Segall’s prescription for fixing today’s career ailments. Your employer has a responsibility to you, but so do you for achieving your career.
Being good at your job does not mean you are good at your career. In fact, early on in the book, Segall lists ten reasons why we don’t talk about career, as well as an example of how our collective devaluation of career direction can lead to organizational direction.
He offers an account of human resources using lower salaries because people are seen as a cost. He cautions:
“When we become more value to ourselves, we become more valuable to our employers as well. It’s a mistake to think that we are simply more expensive. Instead, we must remember that our value comes from our effect on the workplace and not just the work product….We have failed to recognize this perspective of career as a mutual investment…..”
I tried to imagine how this book best serves its intended audience. The solutions describe enterprise-level environments in general, but they can fit smaller firms more susceptible to keeping employees motivated when advancement opportunities vary wildly. The ideas can be a starting point to how to develop employees to imagine their careers, even if it may mean moving forward from a firm.
That kind of move in the right context can broaden a network for a smaller firm; a win-win aspect. That perspective permeates the ideas Segall advocates. The end result is a bright tone in between the talks about controlling your career, such as this passage:
“We’re in a world filled with people who have no interest in conflict with one another and would rather agree on nearly everything of substance and matter. We seek to be respected, to be able to come together (or apart) as we please. We want our future world to live as brightly as the golden ages of the past…. This globally integrated world creates opportunities for each of us to connect and do business, if only we have the creativity and initiative to meet the opportunity.”
That win-win perspective enhances any encouragement in taking charge of your networking and skill development:
“…if people around us are generally good and want to help us if they can, then it is our responsibility to engage with them as part of our career development.”
The cost of lost engagement can be high. Segall notes what can result from a dysfunctional process in an organization, such as the cost of a poor recruitment program:
“The dysfunctional employer will have to explain to its remaining workforce why it can’t keep its best talent in its ranks, or if it buries its head in the sand and ignores the absence of its key personnel, the staff will be well aware of the corporate dysfunction and the exit trend will continue.”
I can imagine someone giving this book to an employee to show some ideas to what to expect from career management in general. Or it can be given as an inspiration on what a good workplace should promise to its workforce.
Budding entrepreneurs may also find inspiration in the text. As a matter of fact, I recall a conversation with an interested professional that he felt uncomfortable charging someone for his services – comments from Segall can positively inspire entrepreneurs to get past such psychological hang ups:
“It doesn’t matter what you do for a living. You have skills to offer, and they are part of a solution. The solution you choose to work on shows where your passions lie.”
Entrepreneurs can combine this thought with those from Adrienne Graham’s excellent No You Can’t Pick My Brain .
Regardless of the reason, you should read this book to learn why win-win thinking can enhance and bring value to your teams.