IntroductionOrganisations on understanding their employees beyond just their

IntroductionOrganisations have only recently placed much more emphasis on understanding their employees beyond just their competencies, to improve the work environment and enable them (DiRenzo & Greenhaus, 2011). The concept of career self-management has been recently introduced, as the corporate world has adapted over the decades. Inherent to the notion of protean careers is that the individual employee is primarily responsible for managing his/her career and that a strong sense of identity and values are important for guiding career decisions. (Briscoe & Hall, 1999; Briscoe & Hall, 2006; Hall, 2002). To understand the role of this, it is crucial to first comprehend how perspectives on careers have changed over the decades. Thus, in descriptive details, this particular essay explores the concept of individual career self-management, its strengths and limitations, in addition to how well they effect traditional and protean careers. When considering an individual’s career “graph”, it is usually guided by preliminary training followed by opportunities provided by employers and organisations. These opportunities slowly increase in status, workload, and reward as the individual gains more experience in the workplace (Arthur, 1996; 1999). However, this traditional ideology of building one’s career, where it was once important to simply have a respectable job that would provide money, arguably has now been replaced with the needs of the individual and reasons beyond financial sufficiency, which are guided by the employee him/herself, as mentioned previously.  Understanding Career ManagementThere are various career-management behaviours and strategies that both individuals and organisations tend to employ, whether it is an individual managing his/her career path, or it is the organisation taking an interest in exceptionally capable employee; there are several models and theories that attempt to explain contemporary careers (Gubler et al, 2014). Career self-management is now a tool that can be customised to the individual to allow them to assess their strengths and weaknesses, and to establish the necessary means to a successful career. This concept can be understood as the extent to which one consistently absorbs knowledge and information, and prepares for decisions and solutions that surround problems related to their career (Kossek et al., 1998). Additionally, Kossek (1998) also suggests that in order to manage one’s own career effectively: individuals may adopt a variety of roles and responsibilities that allow them to widen their skills, partake in a constant process of self-evaluation, as well as refine the ideas and perspectives that they may have in association with their careers (Kossek et al., 1998). In conjunction with this idea, Greenhaus (1987) has also defined career management as a technique of problem-solving through which individuals learn and take on information that is important and relative to their careers by exploring their skills in different aspects of their jobs, and thus, form and improve a superior awareness of themselves and their work environment, which enables them to implement career strategies. The aforementioned definitions could be seen as a strength of the concept, especially since the term “career” may be deemed to be too subjective. In addition, the career self-management model attempts to amalgamate all career-management behaviours into one holistic framework which also considers psychological characteristics of individuals (Hirschi, 2012). It is interesting to note that the shift from traditional talent management to emergent methods, such as protean careers, has only come about recently. It originally began in the late 1970s, as a necessary response to economic stagnation-inflation and sudden increase in global competition. The conceptualization of career was dramatically changed because of socio-economic changes in the environment in the past decades (Ahmed et al, 2015). As a result, traditional career theories have been challenged to present newer models which could accurately explain this shift. Career self-management can be appropriately understood as a process that involves three major stages (Baruch, 2006; Noe, 1988). Exploring their careers is the initial step that individuals take, in which they gather knowledge about the array of interests, values, skills, strengths, and weaknesses that they may hold. The second step involves career goals in which individuals recognise and establish their career goals. The final step involves achieving their goals, in which individuals develop and use several career strategies that enable them to successfully achieve or effectively work towards their career goals. Career self-management can essentially include all activities that are carried out by individuals which support and allow them to boost their career prospects for future roles (Bambacas 2010).The BenefitsModern theories of career development (Arthur et al, 2005; Ahmed et al, 2015), including career self-management, place emphasis mainly around the individual and his or her career rooted around factors such as family, personal interests, and community activities (Benko & Weisberg, 2007). This notion has struck a major chord with the newer generation of employees and is, perhaps, one of the greatest strengths of career self-management. Since this concept gives the individual more power to plan and chart their career according to their needs outside of work, it also promotes increased work-life balance (DiRenzo et al, 2015). Furthermore, individuals who promote self-management behaviours are able to focus the enhancement of their career through six major strategies: seeking guidance and/or mentoring, networking, self-presentation, creating opportunities, extended work involvement, and ingratiating behaviours (Gould & Penley, 1984). According to King (2004), these strategies include choices and activities which, over time, support an individual to achieve their career goals and thus, they develop them to have more control over their career. Research suggests that there are several other benefits of career self-management (Arthur, 1999), contextually specific to the constantly adapting economy, which include increased job satisfaction and career success (King, 2004; Waters et al, 2014). In addition, organizations are also promoting such strategies to ensure their employees are motivated to work more efficiently, in hopes of having reduced workload stress (DiRenzo et al, 2015). Several research studies over the decades, have examined individual and organisational factors that facilitate career success (Ng, Eby, Sorensen, & Feldman, 2005). Behaviours of careers self-management, as well as more cognitive indicators of career self-management such as career competencies, have been investigated as precursors. The evidence suggests that people who tend to be more actively reflective about their career goals, and those who tend to have a better awareness of what they would like to achieve in the duration of their career graph, have a greater chance of succeeding in their careers. Furthermore, research has also suggested that individuals who use self-management behaviours, feel a stronger sense of desire to achieve their goals which as a result, assumes that they strive or work harder and thus, they may feel more successful in their career (e.g. Arthur et al., 2005; Ng et al., 2005).The DrawbacksOn the contrary, since the current economic market is still in its transition period, a major percentage of companies still prefer to use more traditional methods, and perhaps, that is one of the biggest limitations; not of the concept itself, but the lack thereof. Although the development and management of a career is largely in the hands of the individual, the organisation(s) that he or she works for, also has a major role to play in encouraging this. Research suggests that organisations that actively participate in an individual’s career development, tend to show increased job performance (Luchak et al, 2007). However, many organisations actively, on a global scale, choose not to enable their employees because of a lack of resources and time, or a lack of interest. A study conducted by Bambacas (2010) investigated the relationship between the two aspects of career management – one that was initiated by the individual, which included all self-management activities, and one that was initiated by the organisation, which included career development activities. The results from this study suggested that organisations should play a bigger role in their employees’ career development, and thus, increase their commitment to work. This study brings attention to a major limitation to self-management; solely optimising this technique may only give partial results, and it is essential to consider other factors that contribute to developing one’s career. This is further supported by studies conducted by Sturges et al (2005) and Bambacas and Bordia (2009) suggesting that there may be no concrete correlation between career self-management and levels of commitment to work. It majorly depends on organisational opportunities presented to the individual as well as the work environment (Mathieu & Zajac, 1990).Furthermore, non-Western cultures have exhibited a tendency to not accept the concept of career self-management at all. Recent studies have shown that notions related to career callings and self-management, are more common amongst Western cultures (Zhang et al, 2015) in comparison to Eastern cultures. This could be due to various reasons, such as the beliefs and values that each culture stands for, as well as individual goals varying across cultures. These norms however, are changing as organisations make a collective attempt to progress globally, and many cultures support the notion of an individual taking more initiative towards his or her career (Zhou et al, 2012). It could be possible that this cultural factor is seen as a limitation of the concept, due to the lack of exposure individuals have towards self-management behaviours, and thus, they may be unable to achieve comparable levels of success in their careers to their Western counterparts. There is not, however, enough empirical evidence to accurately understanding the role culture plays in one’s career management. Self-Management – A Double-Edged SwordThe business world is constantly adapting and becoming increasingly complex and thus, in such times, employees, in order to keep up with the change, need to also constantly adapt (Nikandrou & Galanaki, 2016). As mentioned previously, in addition to being supported by prior research, these continuous changes have placed more intensive demands on individuals to maintain their jobs. Whilst self-managing one’s career has been suggested to improve career success, the need for increased control on the career graph can also be more taxing on the individual. Additionally, globalisation has brought about more challenges to employees, as the demand for digitalisation grows (Cifre et al, 2013), and the gap between the requirements and qualification of the individual increases (Sitenko et al, 2015). These factors are added motivators for employees to manage their own careers, in conjunction with the constant flux of financial situations in the current market. As a result, individuals cannot afford to stay in one organisation for too long (Savickas, 2012). On one hand, in such scenarios, career self-management can be seen as a major asset to help promote new career building strategies and make the individual’s transitions between companies smoother (Brown & Hirschi, 2013), but on the other hand, they could contribute to stress levels and disrupt the work-life balance. ConclusionTo conclude, research has certainly provided a great deal of insight into the concepts and theories surrounding individual career self-management. However, the intricacies of this concept demand more research; one that is specific to its strengths and limitations, because, whilst most studies on this topic explore the different theories and its effects, very little has been actually mentioned about its benefits and drawbacks. Some benefits of career self-management include: increased job satisfaction, career success, and more power to the individual to enable them to shape their career graph. Some limitations of career self-management include: lack of exposure to the concept, cultural differences towards understanding the need for career management, and the notion of the strategies and behaviours included within self-management being solely responsible towards a successful career, without regard for the role organisations play in shaping an individual’s career. Self-management behaviours, ultimately play a major role, not only in shaping and improving an individual’s career graph, but also in enabling organisations to make better choices for their employees. From the aforementioned research, it can be assumed that individuals who employ career self-management strategies, may tend to have greater motivation and commitment towards their work and the organisation, which may eventually, benefit the individual with greater success in their job(s), as well as the employers with a team of proactive and dedicated employees who collectively strive to improve the organisation’s financial status.