These two examples of life-career assessment exercises are typical of methods for helping employees to think in more precise terms about their life roles and their satisfaction with each role. The first exercise, Kemp's Life-Career World Wheel, was created by Linda K. Kemp. It has been used with a great deal of success in individual and group client settings for many years. The second exercise, the Quick Goal-Setting Exercise, is attributed to Carol Christen and represents another life-career assessment process. However, it should be used only by persons who are trained and experienced in facilitating exercises that may be dramatically enlightening for clients. Credentialed career counselors, career facilitators, or similar professionals are probably best qualified to use this exercise in either a group or an individual setting.
These two exercises represent low- and high-impact approaches to facilitating reflection on life-career issues as part of a formal competency-based employee development process. We cannot stress too much the importance of qualified career counselors or facilitators in using these methods.
Figure 15 depicts an example of Kemp's Life-Career World Wheel. The wheel is divided into eight spokes. Each spoke represents an individual's primary life roles: work, financial, leisure, spiritual, family, citizen, learning, and relationships. Note that the structure is grounded on four key life roles: work, leisure, family, and learning.
Figure 15: An Example of the Use of Kemp's Life-Career World Wheel
In our example, a fictitious employee has used Kemp's Life-Career World Wheel to rate her satisfaction with the current status of each of her life roles by placing a dot at the point on the spoke that indicates her level of satisfaction. The farther out from the center, the greater the individuals satisfaction. The eight rating points were connected with straight lines to form a closed polygon. It would be extraordinarily unusual for an individual to express complete satisfaction with the status of all eight roles. Had this been the case for our fictitious employee, connecting the rating dots would have formed a regular octagon (one with eight sides of equal length and eight equal interior angles).
The employee reviewed her polygon with assistance from an HR specialist. She easily discerned her degree of satisfaction with the status of each life role and decided to increase her satisfaction with the financial and citizen roles over the next 18 months. This decision raised a host of life-work questions in her mind, including the following:
Quite obviously, the two roles the employee selected for improvement are related to some of her other life roles. Her work role, for example, has financial ramifications, which led to another set of questions:
Since this employee is participating in a competency-based employee development process, the organization must address some of these issues. Its responses would be determined by many factors, such as the employee's perceived strategic value to the organization, her willingness to be flexible or pursue additional learning, and her performance record and competency base.
As you can tell, the life-career component of an organization's employee development process is a major one and must not be taken lightly.
Carol Christen, personal communication with Linda K. Kemp, February 26, 2003.
This exercise begins with life-career assessment and then moves to goal setting. The assessment process is essential to successful goal setting. After you have thought about your own responses to the following exercise, you will understand more clearly why career telling, which typically skips the assessment stage, can be counterproductive for both the employee and the organization.
An employee, with support from a trained and experienced career counselor or facilitator, proceeds with the goal-setting exercise by answering the following questions:
This exercise can have enlightening but sometimes unsettling outcomes for employees. Individuals who complete this exercise often realize that this has been their first opportunity to honestly assess their life-career roles, achievements, and preferences in a formal and purposeful manner. It is not unusual for persons to express confusion or other strong emotions. We recommend that you consider this possibility before using this exercise. Depending on the intensity of the response, employees may require additional support with organizing their thoughts and feelings and determining their course of action. With a career counseling professional on staff or available as needed, employees can complete goal setting in a psychologically safe environment. The primary outcome of this exercise is identification of life-career goals. If several goals are identified, they must be prioritized.