Nurturing Strengths to Achieve Goals
Les Brown worked in the Department of National Defense Human Resources Department for most his professional career. His positions were diverse and detailed and his postings included Borden, ON; Victoria, BC; Lahr, Germany; Winnipeg, MB; and, his current posting, Ottawa.
But after 25 years of helping colleagues resolve issues and realize greater professional satisfaction, Les realized that his own ambitions and aspirations were not being met. He wanted to leverage his HR education and experience into a more challenging position within the military. He wanted a role that would allow him to conduct deep analysis of HR systems to see if his employers were getting a favorable return on their investment. As a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), this opportunity was beyond his rank. A process was in place to facilitate the transition but it was lengthy and fraught with bureaucracy.
“I had been searching in vain for the right career and the next step to take,” says Les, 49. “I needed a career counselor to facilitate this process with me.”
I started by helping Les look outside the military for that opportunity. I began by writing a job ad for him to be placed on the website of the Human Resources Professional Association of Ontario.
Les met and spoke to fellow association members. Through that contact, and other proactive measures I guided him through, Les determined he could attain his goal more quickly if he completed a Master’s degree.
Les already possessed a Bachelor’s degree in Management and Ethics. He enrolled at Concordia, the only university in Canada that offers the Human Systems Intervention (HSI) program, a Masters degree similar to Organizational Development.
“My M.A. helped me better appreciate the Training and Development field as an opportunity I could pursue to gain experience and a much better job satisfaction quotient within the military,” says Les. “Training and Development within the military became the best option to begin my new employment and to apply a significant portion of my M.A. expertise.”
Les completed his M.A. in 2005. He applied the theory he learned at university in practice on the job and it wasn’t long before his value was recognized by his commanding officers. A change in career fields to a Training Development Officer (TDO) and a promotion to Captain, meant an immediate raise of 40 percent. But more importantly, it culminated in a new position as a Training Manager of Projects using his newly acquired qualifications as a TDO Process Consultant.
“My new career involves training and organizational development and is the only field that provides some aspects of the process consultation type of work that I wanted to do,” says Les. “George used his natural abilities and professional expertise to help me focus and discover this great career step for me.”
His responsibilities include management of Training Design and Development and conducting initial cadre training (ICT) for four main projects, each comprising several sub-projects. Each sub-project involves the acquisition of new equipment and training key personnel for operational capability in the military. He then modifies the ICT package into a regenerative training program for the school and individual units to train their personnel.
Though Les was not specifically taught how to design or develop workshops in his MA program, he says he has learned “how to make them successful.” As a TDO, I am learning how to design and develop training, which is also applicable to designing and developing workshops for HSI situations,” he says. “I frequently rely on the change management skills I learned during my M.A.: 25% of my work involves influencing others to change how they view new training technologies and/or approaches.”
Les gets satisfaction helping others solve organizational development-related issues, whether it is with individuals or within a group context. He can “pull threads of ideas together” and create successful scenarios and conclusions. This helps individuals and teams get “unstuck” in their pursuit of successfully attaining their goals. He says his M.A. has taught him to “meet people where they are and from that point determine the best course of action. “You can’t change people,” he says. “We can only change ourselves and our approach in interacting with others.”
Les identified the changes he needed to make in order to make a successful transition to a career in the military that better matched his abilities and ambitions. Although I do not generally suggest more education as the solution to transitioning to a new career, in Les’ s case it was needed for him to formally understand and apply the theories behind the work of a Process Consultant. I helped him cultivate proactive measures, develop contacts and recognize the value that a Master’s degree in his field of interest would provide.
“Through science and faith George affirmed, encouraged and supported my natural talents,” says Les. “He helped me discover how applying these would help me discover and realize my vision.”
~ with Harry Gallon