Coach’s Corner Blog

Managing Our Career: Part 4 – Putting It All Together

February 20, 2014 by Leave a Comment

This is the forth and final part of this Managing Our Career series. We have tried to provide a diagnostic format for considering:

  • Part 1: How groups form and organizations transform – the Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing Model (FSNP)
  • Part 2: The value of your relative competence in doing what you do at any given time
  • Part 3: The importance of your passion to your work

In this post, we will discuss putting it all together in a useful framework for you to use in your career, especially as you contemplate or confront the inevitable transitions that we are presented with.

Careers now can change 3 – 5 times in a person’s life – I am on my fourth right now. In my parent’s generation, people stayed at one company for a whole career. Now we must be very nimble about how to navigate our careers because of the volatile nature of global business and the rapidity of change. Here are two career positions to keep in mind:

  • Move Up / Expand: You have a track record of success and are looking to assume more responsibility. You will consistently need to consider the FSNP diagnostic and check to see if you are developing the competence for higher order leadership and are still passionate about it.
  • Adapt / Stabilize: You are successful historically but are in the midst of change within your group, company or even your industry. Your competence and/or your  passion may be challenged. Use FSNP to forecast where you might be in any transition.

I have chosen to not focus on the following two career positions because of the different complexities of those career shifts:

  • Reinvention: You have decided, or it was decided for you to a radical organizational change, that you need to start over elsewhere in a new career, industry or life path. I do think the FSNP Model is relevant, but this is a whole other topic.
  • Getting Started: You are just getting started in your career. There has been a lot written about the transition to the working world. I do think the FSNP Model is relevant, but I have not focused my efforts in my practice here.

The important factor in either Moving Up / Expanding or in the Adapt / Stabilize career phases is your awareness of where you might be in the FSNP Model. Let’s review:

Forming: Welcome, Integrate, Focus

Be focused on your induction into a new role or responsibilities.

  • Create focus and goals for new projects or initiatives
  • Embrace different ideas and use all the assembled talents
  • What is your goal? How are you contributing to the success of your team or organization?

Competence Check: Some people are more attuned to adapting to new environments or embracing new challenges than others. How effective are you at being able to do this? Have you sought out help and support to make it happen?

Storming: Brainstorm, Debate, and Create a Sense of Community / Connection

New situations are usually accompanied with unease and some friction; bring it to the light of day.

  • Decide how you will thrive in any new role or with any challenge
  • Keep the vision / goal in focus and clarify that for yourself and others
  • Decide how you will measure success and how you keep everyone informed about it

Competence Check: Some people have broader experience in the process of having to go through this messy but important process. Do you have a plan for how you will foster the dialogue needed to hash things out? Do you know who to reach out to for help?

Norming: Clarify, Communicate, Do Not Assume Anyone “Gets It”

What has been decided about what?

  • What is the new normal?
  • Capture what has been decided about people, process and performance: Publish and Proclaim it. You can’t communicate too much about this.
  • Make time for “post mortems” on what you do so you can constantly improve processes

Competence Check: Some people are comfortable and patient with collecting all the needed input to establish this foundation for operating, establishing the new normal.  Others are not.  Creating the right communication on this is critical at this stage of things.

Performing: Execute, Reflect, Measure, Repeat

Celebrate success, confront failure constructively.

  • Reinforce how your team’s efforts tie into the strategic direction of the firm to educate everyone.
  • Fine tune metrics, goals and tactics constantly – seek continuous improvement
  • Do you have the right people to check in with about your effectiveness and help you develop and improve?
  • Always “bring the outside in” to stay informed about the competition and best practices

Competence Check: Do you feel confident about how you and your team are performing? Are you up to speed on the challenges your team is facing and have a good handle on the facts about all relevant metrics. Are you using this to maximize alignment within the team and to the rest of the organization? Are you sure your contributions are being recognized?

So if we can be sure we are in tune with the performance and leadership needs of our work and can align that with the different challenges at the four stages in the FSNP Model, we can fine tune our efforts more effectively. Again, awareness is the first step in improved diagnostics.

Lastly, we need to take advantage of the key part of our work we feel most passionate about.

Man is truly great when he acts from the passions. – Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

Here are a couple of the sources of our passion:

Conscious Competence: Over time this competence is developed by combinations of study, practice, feedback and pattern recognition. If we work hard enough and have the physical and intellectual tools to be successful, we can often reach various levels of competence. Passion really starts to bloom here because the positive feedback and recognition we receive for good performance reinforces our willingness to put forth the effort to make things happen.

Unconscious Competence: This is where we don’t know why we are as good as we are at something, but we do know we are very good at it. This is where passion truly blossoms because once we are involved in work that allows this unconscious competence to flourish; the excitement can be really palpable. In some regards it’s like the Supreme Court’s definition of pornography – they know it when they see it. With passion, you know it when you feel it.

Do you know the source of your passion in your work or life? They may not be the same, but you need to identify them in either case.

On a personal note, I was able to “notice” a unique ability I have and then recognized it in work I did with the Strategic Coach program, led by Dan Sullivan. This is my passion and wish I could use it every day. My passion is centered about listening in a manner that helps others “connect the dots” and sift through all the “noise” in the system that is their world.

It is an unconscious competence and I first noticed I could do it in my 20’s. I provided insights to people that helped them clarify their challenges – it did not give them the answers. When I decided to shift my career to executive coaching seventeen years ago, it was because I knew I would be able to do what I loved and was good at. I am very fortunate in having recognized this and jumped in as the field was taking off. I actually connected my own dots!

To summarize this whole series, I was trying to provide a diagnostic model for looking at how we can manage our career in a proactive manner. We used the FNSP Model as a basis and considered the impact of People, Process and Performance in each stage, whether it is about your competence for your work or whatever part of your work or life you are most passionate about. I hope this will assist you with your vision about your career and I leave you with this quotation:

Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference. – Joel Barker

Questions for consideration:

  • Can you use the FSNP to help you diagnose organizational challenges you face?
  • Do the People, Process and Performance distinctions help you focus on key needs or opportunities in your work?
  • Do you know what your passion is?

I look forward to your thoughts in the comments below.

Filed Under Careers


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