The next step was to wean the people away from their
job titles and
to break down their jobs into skills. Instead of
saying, "I'm just a telephone operator," I had to get them thinking
that they were skilled in
customer service, inquiries, diplomacy, sales,
operations, training, organization, and coordination.
We identified then-skills
and applied them to future employment opportunities.
My next jolt of reality came when I was confronted
with a plethora of
employees who had been doing a job that they hated
for over 20 years! It's called the golden handcuffs. They had hired
on with the decision to
do this for a year or two while they looked for
something else, but the pay and benefits were bigger and better than
they could get anywhere
else, so they stayed. They only existed for the 40
hours a week that they
were at work. They lived for after-work hours and
The life/work planning program that I set up was a
process that helped
identify strengths and weaknesses
identify skills, work motivators, interests, and
match skills and interests with occupations and
determine short- and long-range goals
specific steps to reach those goals.
You must realize that this wasn't an easy thing to do
people didn't believe that they were really going to lose their
jobs, didn't want to leave the
company, didn't know what their skills were, and didn't want to
upgrade their skills through advanced education. I
felt like I needed a cattle prod
to force the herd out of the burning barn.
I set up a 20-hour class, 4
hours a day for 5 days, in which I administered the Myers-Briggs
Type Indicator for personality, the Strong Interest Inventory and
C.O.P.S. for interest clarification, the C.A.P.S. to access eight
areas of aptitude, the C.O.P.E.S. to identify work values, and at
various times the LASSI for study habits and the Major-Minor
Finder. These assessments enabled me to get a clearer picture of the
person, but only through the
class did I pick up on ambition, attitude,
and life difficulties or
obstacles. After the 20-hour class was finished, I
met with each person
individually to give them their test results, assist
them in determining their
short- and long-term goals, and outline the
steps necessary to accomplish
those goals. I remained their career counselor
so long as they were AT&T employees. Many would accomplish
their short- and long-term goals and make new ones. Others would
leave the company for an
entirely new career that AT&T had subsidized.
What did AT&T get out of this? Employees with better technical
skills and updated knowledge. Productivity went up 40 percent
because people moved into
positions that were in tune with their personalities and interests.
Employees had a better attitude. They felt in control of
their own destinies, and they stayed with AT&T to complete
their education, which resulted
in less employee turnover. A true win-win
RULES FOR BEING HUMAN
life/work planning class is emotional demanding and psychologically
tiring. This tension must be offset with lighter touches, such as
the following rules for being human. While allowing the participant
time, the exercise is still focused on the point that each of us is
responsible for our own destiny.
You will receive a body.
may like it or hate it, but it will be
yours for the entire period this time around.
You will learn lessons.
You are enrolled in a full-time, informal
school called life. Each day in this school you will
have the opportunity
to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant
There are no mistakes, only lessons.
Growth is a process of trial
and error, experimentation. The failed experiments
are as much a
of the process as the experiment that ultimately works.
lesson is repeated until learned.
lesson will be presented to
you in various forms until you
have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on
to the next lesson.
Learning lessons does not end.
There is no part of life that does not
contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are
lessons to be learned.
There is no better than here.
When your "there" has become a
"here," you will simply obtain another "there" that
will, again, look
better than "here." Bloom where you are planted.
Others are merely mirrors of you.
You cannot love or hate some-thing
about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or
hate about yourself.
make of your life is up to you.
You have all the tools and
resources you need. What you do with them is up to
you. Destiny is
matter of choice, not chance.
answers lie inside you.
The answers to life's questions lie
inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and
forget all of this.
Henry Alex Hutchins:
Other companies are following the lead of AT&T.
United Technology Corporation will pay all education
costs including textbooks for all of its employees. You may be
surprised to learn that
only 10 to 20 percent of the people who are eligible
actually take advantage
of these opportunities. Should your company be providing these
educational opportunities? Yes, it should. It makes
sense for the company,
for the employee, and in today's fast changing world it is the
thing to do.
What can you do as an individual if your company
chooses not to
participate? Go talk with the career assessment
department at your local
community college. Most colleges have access to these and other
test instruments to help you find your own interest,
skills, and abilities.
The presentation will include several group exercises
career assessment activities.