From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

November 2021
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Knowledge workers. Self-management in mid-career
Filed under: Mature professionals, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 5:10 pm

We have shared a set of soft skills that scientists and engineers
are expected to use and display and a set of wise skills that,
when they are displayed set job seekers and those considered
for promotion apart from their competition.

Scientists, engineers, managers and leaders are considered
knowledge workers.  [see some definitions of knowledge workers
at the end]  Especially in mid career, they have
considerable responsibilities and expectations for which
they are evaluated and rated.  We need to be mindful that
while our supervisor’s reviews are informative, our personal
assessments are what are critical to our satisfaction and
happiness.  Unfortunately, these only follow, in many cases,
being let go by organizations and are part of the repertoire of
outplacement firms at higher levels.  We maintain that self-
management for mid-career knowledge workers, managers
and leaders should be a regular practice
.  See also 1  .  Self
management includes:

  self-discipline of attentionHunter and Scherer wrote ‘self
management begins with attention’
and P Forni articulates the
essential role attention plays by controlling our emotions to
allow us to set goals and rationally criticize our own behaviors.

  perception allows viewing the same information using more
focused attention from differing viewpoints.  It is “metaphorical
thinking” in action, described as reflection and introspection.
Avoiding the Einstellung effect as described by Partnoy is another
fine example, where humans repeat old responses or behaviors
when newer and better ones are available.

  self-awareness of our habits by studying our cues and outcomes
and assessing if they achieve the goals we seek.  Often our
actions do not and we need to mindfully address the habit, as
Duhigg has pointed out.

  adapting a mindset of growth by trying new approaches like
Peter Palchinsky model, which recognizes that the real world is more
complicated and evolving all the time with “facts” being meso-
facts.  see Harford and Arbesman .

Palchinsky’s approach boils down to three principles:
- Seek out new ideas and try new things
- When trying something new, do it on a scale where failure is survivable
- Seek out feedback and learn from your mistakes as you go along

Knowledge worker definitions:
Chris Shayan 2012
Mindtools [UK, a little earlier]
eNOTES [perhaps, still earlier]

2 Responses to “Knowledge workers. Self-management in mid-career”

  1. site admin Says:

    Economic landscape is changing based on a new
    tool–”BIG DATA”.

    Being able to “mine”, find gaps and value areas
    and implement knowledge worker value.

    See podcast in:
  2. site admin Says:

    The ACS Career tips page (C&EN 1-7-2013, p. 36)
    poses some of the questions you might ask yourself
    in the self assessment.

    Be serious about it and spend some time asking:

    1. what have you accomplished [not only positive
    results, but also decisions made, negative outcomes.

    2. what do you do [how much time is productive?
    how can you improve your productivity]

    3. what are you not doing what you believe was
    productive or instrumental in the pursuit of yours and
    your organization’s goals?

    4. what are your acquired skills [what would you
    like to learn and practice and how could you do it?]

    5. assess what has changed in your global situation
    and your local situation. What do you see ahead in
    6 months, one year? Are you prepared? What might
    you do?

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