Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Can Pension Plan changes impact your Career Development?

Alcoa recently announced changes to its defined benefit pension plan (no longer will it be offered to new employees beginning March 1, 2006). The plan for new employees will be replaced by a 401(k) plan with defined company contributions and company match of employee contributions. Recent accounting regulation changes suggest that Alcoa will not be alone in making adjustments to company retirement plans.

Not linked to career development, you may think? What does this trend signal for your career?

Employee contributions to retirement and healthcare plans have become the modus operandi for most companies. I’m sure most of us have become quite accustomed to it. However, these aren’t the only HR arenas in which some of the responsibility has been shifted to employees.

Another trend has been the move towards self-directed learning. “What’s that?” you may ask. Well, you may recognize it as e-learning or online courses you can take at your desk, on your laptop or even from your home computer. Or, maybe you have the ability to apply for tuition reimbursement that enables you to continue your education or pursue an advanced degree.

I’m not necessarily debating the pros or cons of self-directed learning (although I’m eager to hear your views). However, this trend strongly suggests you adopt a proactive approach to your career development:
  • Make it a point this year to become aware of all learning options (formal and informal) that your organization offers.
  • Figure out which ones will be beneficial for your current (or your next) opportunity.
  • Create an action-oriented development plan … in other words, “just do it!”

Let 2006 be the year you take charge of your career!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

How will you step out of your "comfort zone" in 2006?

New Year’s is a time for both planning and reflecting. In our last post, we mentioned why it’s important to document our career highlights and low-lights. So, now I’m going to challenge you a bit.

What will you do differently in 2006 to advance your career objectives?

Sometimes it’s easy to coast, to take the familiar road on our way to professional success. There’s a somewhat famous expression (I apologize for not being able to reference the source) about the definition of insanity – doing the same thing, in the same way and expecting different results.

What will you do differently? I have a couple of thoughts or ideas – how about:
  • Sitting with a new group of people at lunch (which could be a way to expand your network)
  • Taking on a leadership role in a professional association (which could create a “safe space” to try out new skills)
  • Learning to speak a different language or use new software (which could increase your marketability)
These are just a few examples. What do you have in mind?? Come on, I dare you!