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Career anchors explanation

1. TF – Technical/functional (skill)

Some people are discovering as their careers evolve and as they move in certain areas that they have a lot of talent and are highly motivated by a particular type of work e.g. research work. As they go through their careers, they also discover that they are less happy and less proficient as they move to other areas.

They withdraw, as it were, back in the area in which they are competent and they love. They create a sense of identity around the content of the work, the technical or functional domain in which they excel and develop ever greater skill in this field. Such people develop in their self-concept the dominant theme of specialist and have their identity around which revolves certain talents. This identity, the need to develop their skills further and to show dominates the other needs such as security, autonomy and entrepreneurship.

People with this career anchor search challenges and opportunities to be creative in their field, recognition for their contribution and talent, opportunities to acquire further skills in their field of competence and the status associated with achievements.

As long as an organization continues to provide opportunities to become more proficient in their field, they stay. If there is no more interesting work, they will probably look for another organization.

Most careers start in a technical-functional domain, but people with a technical-functional anchor experience this work as intrinsically meaningful and satisfying. After all, they discover that they really have talent for it and they really like to do it. They start to specialize because they see themselves and their careers in terms of this specialty.

Individuals who have this anchor, need to learn how to communicate in order to prevent them from being pushed in a management role.

These people like to be involved in setting objectives. Once the objectives are fixed, however they want to work independently to achieve them. Linked to this, they like to have sufficient freedom in the implementation (budget, facilities, ...). They will also accept administrative or management tasks as long as they are functional in the success of the job.

Everything which includes a professional promotion, such as providing training or mentoring, is an interesting step for these employees who preserve the idea that they remain specialist in something.

Study level and years of experience are of essential importance in compensation. These people will want to compare themselves with other "specialists" in the same domains in other organizations. Bonuses and other variable compensation are less interesting for these employees.

2. GM - General managerial (skill)

As their career progresses, a number of people will discover that they want to grow to general management. Management as such interests them and they are competent in this field. They want to achieve a level in the organization where their efforts and decisions make the difference between success and failure of the organization.

Their main values in this context are: getting ahead, have a lot of responsibilities, have the opportunity to contribute to the welfare of the organization and have the opportunities to exercise leadership and to acquire a high income.

People who really want to ascend to the general management level need to have the necessary qualifications in 3 domains:

a)    Analytical competence

The ability to identify, analyze and resolve problems under uncertain conditions and with a lack of sufficient information.
They should be able to take in a lot of information of different quality under time pressure to recognize what is valid and translate this information into a clear problem that can be followed-up. They lead the decision-making process and should be able to think integral and cross-functional.

b)    Interpersonal and intergroup competence

The ability to influence people at all levels of the organization, to supervise, lead and control to ensure effective fulfillment of organizational goals.
The job of general manager increasingly involves the management of the decision-making process. Partly due to the complexity of the organizational tasks, the manager can’t take the decisions on his own. He is depending on others for this; interpersonal skills are therefore an absolute requirement.

c)    Emotional competence

The ability to be rather stimulated by emotional and interpersonal crises instead of becoming exhausted or weakened. It is the ability to carry a lot of responsibility, to exercise power and take difficult decisions without guilt or shame. It is especially this aspect of the job making technical and functional anchored people drop out. But this is also the aspect which the person with a general management competence is looking for.

These people measure their success in terms of the salary they get. They expect a very high wage which they compare with colleagues in the company. All possible short-term rewards are attractive to them, especially as it reflects their important position in the organization, such as bonuses for achieving business goals and shares. Management targeted employees therefore only want to work in an organization where they can quickly and clearly evolve into a job with a lot of decision and status.

3. Au – Autonomy/independence (need)

Some people already discover early in their work situation that they cannot bear that they are bound by rules, procedures, regulations around clothing and other standards that are inevitable in any organization.

For people anchored in autonomy the need for independence is a dominant feature. Strong bureaucratic companies interest them less and these people often go looking for a job as a lecturer or consultant. Others consider it possible to find within an organization a function with sufficient autonomy such as research or sales.

A management function should be carefully analysed by the employee who is autonomy oriented. Changing to a management position is for these people often a limitation because they lose autonomy when they are responsible for other people, budgets and results. On the other hand such a function provides a lot of latitude, as regards to how the work can be done. The things a person anchored in autonomy irritate, can be a source of comfort for people who have safety as a career anchor.

Working in projects is often a preferred way of working for these people. Starting from clear objectives but with the freedom to determine the way of working. One hates tight control or any other form of supervision.

All financial benefits such as bonuses, merit system to which no further obligations are attached, arouse their interest. All types of valuations that are "portable" form an additional motivation: medals, laptop, prizes rather than changes in the job title or a larger office.

If these employees get promoted, they find more responsibility only interesting if this function implies more freedom.

4. SE – Security/stability (need)

Some people discover they have an overriding need to organize their careers in such a way that they feel safe and secure. They want the foreseeable future and that they can resign in the knowledge that they have "done it".

These people often seek a job in organizations that provide a permanent position, which have the reputation to rarely dismiss people, who offer good pension plans and benefits and have the image to be strong and competitive

Some people transmit the responsibility for career management to the employer. They will accept any function or will go to any geographical area which the company imposes on them. For these people the source of stability and security primarily focuses on a stable membership of an organization. Others commit themselves to a geographical area, establish themselves in a particular community and invest in a home and a way of living. These people just change job or organization when necessary.

These employees want to be recognized for their loyalty and reliable performance and love to have a clear overview of promotion opportunities and the associated remuneration and pension-/insurance plans.

5. EC – Entrepreneurial creativity (skill)

The main concern of these people is to create something new. They have the motivation thereby to overcome obstacles, are willing to take risks and want to exceed in what they do. This doesn’t specifically apply to creative artists or inventors, although some also become entrepreneurs. Research and development, Chairman of Board of Directors are also rather convenient functions.

These people have a strong need to build something and want to know that the result was never reached without them. In general, they do not like working for others unless they are given sufficient freedom for their own creativity and way of working.

Many people cherish this dream at a young age. Many in the middle management express their desire to get out and start to move on their own. Often the entrepreneurs who prove their activities to be successful started fairly early in their careers. Some work a long time in a traditional organization before they are truly independent and also in their free time they are often occupied with their entrepreneurial activity.

If an organization wishes to retain such a person, they must make certain concessions such as a stimulating environment because this type of employee is quickly fed up and often in need of starting new projects.

For these people ownership (including their names) is the main motivation and their financial wealth is a way to show that they are successful.

6. SV – Service/dedication to a cause (value)

These people want to create something of value, comforting the life of a person or group and contribute to society. We often find these people in caring professions where they can help others or in education. These people look for opportunities to work in their field of interest even if that means they have to change to another organization or sector.

Also in managerial functions we find employees who develop their fundamental self-image around interpersonal, facilitation activities. Think of the human resources manager who presents himself as a sounding board and spokesperson for the staff, r&d people who endeavour to develop a new drug, lawyers who work on a more flexible labour consultation and administrative staff that focuses on customer service.

Central for this people is the need to influence an organization in order to ensure that the motives, in this case the values, can be realized.

As far as the compensation concerns, the aim is a correct remuneration for services rendered but they don’t consider it a major point of discussion. When these people get promoted, this should be a clear sign of appreciation and recognition of their services. They want clarity that others share their values. Often we find this career anchor in functions such as consulting and customer service.

7. CH - Pure challenge (value)

Each problem is there to be solved; each obstacle means a new stimulus. For these people a job must have enough challenges, give them the feeling that they can win and / or even perform better. Flexibility is one of their values, boredom one of their greatest fears.

Everyone has to some extent the need for incentives and challenges but these people often have such a range of talents that they have the need to express them all. Some find these stimuli in intellectual work (engineer), others in very complex situations (consultant) or interpersonal contacts (sales, sports). Novelty, variety and difficulty are targets in themselves. If something is too easy, it is annoying for those people.

To motivate these persons it requires a lot of creativity and energy. It is mainly concentrated on creating flexibility in all its aspects and to highlight a targeted approach, which is formulated in recoverable and ground-breaking objectives.

8. LS – Lifestyle (need)

To find a balance between their professional and personal lives is very important for these people. They try to find a job that leaves enough room for a flexible attitude regarding their private life (hobbies, family, ...).

If you only show interest for the job in its functional context it is too restrictive for these people. They see the job in a wider set of possibilities and they will certainly seek for opportunities to maintain a lasting sense that one can make choices such as sabbatical leave, career breaks, part-time work, social leave, flexible working hours, homework, and so on.

This anchor is found as well with women as with men, especially when both partners build a career.

An organization can best motivate these employees by showing understanding for this attitude and to keep the organizational structures and procedures flexible.


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