The concept of a career anchor is developed by Schein. He ascertains that there are several layers that form one’s career. Satisfaction is a complex relationship between skills, values, motives and needs. The forming of these perceptions is a process that can require up to a decade of work experience (Schein p.17). People will be motivated by things that they tend to do well.
A career refers to our work life and is relevant to a wide variety of work choices that encompasses each individuals career options. Within this career there are external components such as specific competencies, knowledge and skills required to fulfill the job requirements. Each of us will also have a deeper motivation for doing what we do. Identifying these motivations will help you to understand how to make positive career choices that will provide maximum satisfaction and allow you to live with integrity.
A career anchor is the core values, competencies and motives that guide your perception of the ideal job. There are eight identified career anchors that will remain constant through your working life.
Â The career anchor questionnaire helps one to analyze the following:
- What are my talents, skills and areas of competence?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses?
- What are my main motives needs and drives?
- What are the criteria (values) that I judge what I am doing?
Schein’s concept of career anchor arose from a study that determined how managerial careers developed. It involved a longtitudal study of 44 graduates of the Masters at the Sloan school of management. They were interviewed after five years and then after ten years of employment. From this study and interviews with several hundred people in varying stages of careers the common themes were developed into the career anchor concept (Schein. P.19,20)
These eight career anchors are summarized below.
Security and Continuity
This is a very common anchor and relates to job security, steady and regular income and time-related career progression. If you are result-oriented, willing to take risks and believe in achievement-related career progression, and do not want to sacrifice your personal ambitions at the altar of the organisation, then this anchor may not be yours. On the other hand, if you are willing to sacrifice freedom, initiative and go by the rule book with time-related promotions, then this is the career anchor you subscribe to.
Here, the actual content of the job becomes important, since you intend to use your technical and functional competence on the job. It is important to understand that other than this competence, you may or may not look for other motivators and satisfiers.
Once market salary achieved they will seek bigger budgets, more areas of responsibility, and increased scope of job.
If you view life in the organisation as a continuous process of personal growth, increasing your knowledge, competence, capabilities and abilities, this is your career anchor. In the absence of these opportunities, you would consider your career stagnant and would not care to work for such an organisation.
General Managerial Competence Status
This is a very strong career anchor and should appeal to you if you are willing to take risks and work continuously towards going up the ladder, obtaining additional perks and benefits at each step.
Specialisation is viewed as a trap. They have the ability to identify, analyse, synthesise and solve problems under conditions of incomplete information and uncertainty. Financial, marketing, technological, human and other elements have to be combined into problem statements that are relevant to the success of the organization. Be able to think cross functionally and integratively.
People with entrepreneurial attitudes and skills, who want to become intrapreneurs relate very well to this career anchor. Government jobs, public sector organisations, where rules are more important than results, will create discomfort for those who subscribe to this career anchor.
They cannot stand to be bound by others rules, procedures, working hours, dress codes etc. Regardless of where they work or on what these people have an overriding need to do it their way, in their own time and against their own standards. Contract or project work “ with defined goals but left up to them as to how to do it.
Security / Stability
Need to feel safe and secure in their job. All people like to feel this to a certain degree but for these people it dictates all their career decisions. They often seek tenure, have good retirement plans, avoid layoffs, and image of being strong and reliable.Â Government jobs are perfect for these people.Â Prefer steady predictable performance.
The need to create their own businesses by developing new products or services or by taking over existing businesses and reshaping them. Tend to get bored easy. Have need to invent or create new products and services in their enterprises or start new ones.
Making money is a measure of success for these people. Ownership is most important issue. They don’t pay themselves well but retain ownership of stock.
Autonomy people want to run their own businesses for the freedom. Entrepreneurs want to run them to prove that they can create a business. Most start very early in life. Have other conventional jobs whilst looking for an idea or business to take over. Have willingness to drop job when opportunity comes along. Also will forfeit autonomy and stability to get the idea to work.
They want to move into which ever role is key to the creativity of the company. (head of R&D or the Board)Â Can be self-centred and seeking high personal
They enjoy solving unsolvable problems or winning against impossibly tough opponents. High level strategy consultants fit this category relishing more and more difficult kind of strategic assignments. Seek daily combat or competition. Opportunity for self-tests are more important than any other thing about the job not the area of work, pay system or type of recognition.
Can sometimes be very single minded. If there is no use of their competitive skill then they get bored and irritable.
Can be highly motivated to fulfilling career but it must at the same time be integrated with total lifestyle. Balancing the needs of the individual, the family and the career.
Flexibility is valued above all else. Options sought include part-time work, sabbaticals, paternity and maternity leave, day-car options, flexible working hours, working from home etc. An organizations attitude to the needs of a person with this career anchor is important.
Work climate and culture
You are anchored to your career by work climate and culture, seek peace of mind, limited stress, good interpersonal relationships and a conflict-free workplace. Other factors and parameters come second. People who relate to this career anchor usually retire mentally a few years after joining the organisation.