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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, promotion, computer 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 weekends.


The life/work planning program that I set up was a process that helped individuals to

1.        identify strengths and weaknesses

2.        identify skills, work motivators, interests, and experiences

3.        match skills and interests with occupations and vocational choices

4.   determine short- and long-range goals

5.     plan specific steps to reach those goals.

You must realize that this wasn't an easy thing to do because these 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 situation.


A 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 some down time, the exercise is still focused on the point that each of us is responsible for our own destiny.

1.    You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be
yours for the entire period this time around.

2. 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 or stupid.

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error, experimentation. The failed experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately works.

4. A lesson is repeated until learned. A 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. What you 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 a matter of choice, not chance.

9.Your answers lie inside you. The answers to life's questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.

10. You will 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 ethical 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.

Note: The presentation will include several group exercises to dem­onstrate career assessment activities.


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