That's enough about me. Now what about me and my career?

Giving yourself, your lifestyle and your career a personal MOT can pay off in all sorts of unexpected ways, writes Rachelle Thackray

Now here's a radical thought: have you ever considered employing your employer, instead of becoming just another exploited rat-racer? It's only when you take time out to consider your options that you realise, among other things, just how much the "psychological contract" - that between employer and employee - has changed. You don't have to be at the mercy of the job market. You could control your career destiny. But how?

The answer, claim those in career training, is to be found in the concept of Me plc, a catchphrase which originated in the idea of applying management principles to your own career development.

The idea is at the heart of a new weekend course, entitled "Mapping Your Personal Direction" and run by Roffey Park Management Institute, better known for its MBA and business programmes.

Course tutor and occupational psychologist, Christina Evans, sees the weekend - designed to cater for anyone from frustrated bank managers to latently ambitious housewives - as "very much a stock-taking process, just as a car goes through an MOT". Or, as one delegate at the launch defined it: "It's the education junkie's version of a visit to a health farm - a bit of a luxury".

Whether seen as a necessity or an indulgence, the course, including an over- night stay at Roffey Park and use of the fitness facilities, comes in response to requests from forward-thinking companies. Nonetheless, around half of the first batch of 20 or so delegates sponsored themselves, according to Ms Evans. "Nowadays, in terms of thinking about me and my career, there won't necessarily be anybody who I can go and talk to.

"People are beginning to take a long-term perspective, and we are using techniques to help them explore what their values are, examine their life is now, how they spend their time, and how happy they are," she explains.

She believes the course, which includes an evening of merriment at the centre's bar ("to celebrate what people have achieved") can stimulate in a way that goes beyond self-help books. "One of the benefits of working it through with other people is that you have got different perspectives. A book can't challenge in that way. Here we have got 22 coaches."

Mary, self-employed for 10 years as a management trainer, found the diversity of her fellow delegates one of the most useful things about the weekend. "It's been good just talking to people, seeing where they are coming from, and getting ideas. Often you don't think about what you are doing; you just carry on. There are so many things that I didn't consider. Your career requires discipline, and it's the sort of thing you have to work at."

Another delegate, Geoff, recently promoted to a more demanding post in acquisition finance, wanted to discover how he could more effectively balance his career with running a charity for bereaved parents. "I want to slow down a bit, create space for the things which are important," he said.

Nanette McDougall, co-tutor with Ms Evans, warns that learning how to market Me plc is hard work. "The first day is very hard; it provokes a lot of thinking and a lot of feelings. They finish quite exhausted and quite frustrated.

"But on day two it often starts coming together. People start to get glimmers, start seeing possibilities. Our job is to help them keep with it. It's a question of pooling ideas until they are off and running."

For more details of the workshop phone Roffey Park Management Institute on 01293 854047.


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