Written by Vannessa Rouillon.
Translated from French to English by LiberateYourPen.
Who, nowadays, could have a career life without multiple transitions?
In a world of fast technology changes and complex economies, career mobility phases are multiple and could be either deliberate or undergone.
They could happen when you join a new company, during a training time to relearn a new profession, but they could also happen during a jobless period, or when you prepare for retirement.Our relationship to work will need a constant renewal. Click To Tweet
Chances are that we may need to adapt to new work environments, to reflect, and to be able to question our knowledge, our skills, our projects… along within a specific period – more or less short – that we call “transition”.
Transition and identity negotiation
In Larousse dictionary, “transition” is defined as a passage from one state to another, an intermediate level, a progressive evolution between two states or two situations, or even, a gradual passage from an idea to its development!
This polysemous concept is interesting to many sociologists and psychologists.
Some of them consider transition as part of the same conceptual framework than lifecycle, paths and trajectories. Some others believe it is part of biographic events.
In fact, transitions are usually intense phases of identity negotiation. They are “self-negotiations through which individuals strive to maintain a sense of unity and self-esteem.” (Mazade & Hinault, 2014)
When I support people in a career transition – in particular when it is their choice to change direction – I notice that:
- These people always question their professional, but also, personal identities;
- The change process is never painless;
- Change implies the end of a lifecycle and the projection into a new environment they don’t control, but need to learn how to unravel it;
- People need to preserve a common thread, specifically their identity, their values, their drivers, and their dynamics.
It is then a question of making a choice and self-negotiating on what to keep – cause essential – and what to leave in order to move forward.
From seeking adaptation to seeking life quality and meaning
Nowadays’ workers have to learn how to “change their skin”, in a way, “learn to mutate” and adapt to the changing labor world.
They need to learn how to use those “break“ times – which are actually only breaks in terms of economic production – in order to act strategically for their career, and anticipate future movements and disruptions.
More and more people come to see me today with the purpose to anticipate a future redundancy plan; they are in a strategic approach.
Skills assessments are no longer only requested by seniors. Today, they are used by workers at their thirties to embrace professional movements in a more natural way, while keeping an eye on meaning and work life quality.
The prior challenge in career management is to acquire enough autonomy that helps us conduct transitions – or at least find out the appropriate support – and effectively handle identity turmoil.
It should not be lived as an unproductive period but concretely a period that gives a sense to our personal and professional paths, the past and the future.
It requires a fresh look at our own “path times” concept, at their psychological value and not only the economic one.
- Career transitions: a “Strategic Act” in career management - August 23, 2017