Is developing ‘personal agency’ the key to helping individuals navigate their career?

As the workplace becomes more dynamic, complex and unpredictable, career paths and future skill requirements are in a state of flux. In this fast-changing, modern world the individual is ultimately responsible for their personal growth, career progression and job satisfaction. However, our recent research indicates that many people find this situation disorienting and feel ill-prepared to manage their own careers. In this context, how should organisations go about influencing employee mindsets and equipping individuals with the confidence and skills they need to take charge of their careers?

Our provocateur Nathan Iverson PhD offered a fresh perspective on the role of the individual in forging their own career growth, and challenged us to consider the extent to which an organisational career strategy should have this as its focus, and what this means for the role of managers. We also explored whether the notion of ‘personal career agency’ is culturally specific. Nathan drew on his research work on career practices that impact on career satisfaction and his own work as course leader for a Masters programme in Organizational Psychology at the California Baptist University.