Whether we like it or not, the labor market has changed. As the result of globalization, organizations need to respond to a rapidly changing marketplace. Professionals now need to be self-reliant, flexible and mobile, often letting go of a desire to remain with a single employer for their lifetime. Researchers have termed this transformation a boundaryless and protean career.
Hall first proposed the term protean in 1976 to describe self-reliant career management that was directed independently by the individual instead of the organization. In case you are curious, he derived the word from Greek mythology. Proteus was the God of Sea and would protect himself by changing forms.
Rather than using salary or rank as a metric of success, protean individuals gauge their achievement according to their own values, personal choices and search for self-fulfillment. Hall called this criterion psychological success (Amit and Sloan Work & Family Research Network).
Protean and boundaryless individuals have a deep understanding of what they want from their careers and then develop the knowledge, skills, network and adaptable attitude that are needed to achieve these personal goals. To assess the level that you operate with a protean and boundaryless framework, consider your level of agreement with the following questions, which come from the Protean Career Attitudes Scale and the Boundaryless Career Attitudes Survey.
- When development opportunities have not been offered by my company, I’ve sought them out on my own.
- I am responsible for my success or failure in my career.
- Freedom to choose my own career path is one of my most important values.
- I navigate my own career based on my personal priorities, as opposed to my employer’s priorities.
- What’s most important to me is how I feel about my career success, not how other people feel about it.
- I’ll follow my own conscience if my company asks me to do something that goes against my values.
- I seek job assignments that allow me to learn something new.
- I enjoy job assignments that require me to work outside of the organization.
- I like tasks at work that require me to work beyond my own department.
- I have sought opportunities in the past that allow me to work outside the organization.
- I am energized in new experiences and situations.
- I like the predictability that comes with working continuously for the same organization.
- I would feel very lost if I couldn’t work for my current organization.
- I prefer to stay in a company I am familiar with rather than look for employment elsewhere.
- In my ideal career I would work for only one organization.
Agreement for items 1 through 11 and disagreement with items 12 to 15 indicates a preference for a protean and boundaryless career.
What do you think of the protean and boyndaryless concept? Post your thoughts below.