Download PDF version

How to Retrain for a Second Career

By Sherrie Haynie and Pam Valencia

January 3, 2013


When factored into learning design, understanding employees’ personalities and what motivates them at work can make it easier to retrain an individual. CPP’s organizational development consultants Sherrie Haynie and Pam Valencia offer some direction on how employees can be retrained for a new career by looking at learned behaviors, natural preferences, and interests and motivations. See below for an excerpt from the article:

Who You Are, What You Do
The first step in retraining for a new role involves helping employees distinguish learned behaviors from natural preferences — innate mental processes that drive how people perceive information and make decisions. Psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of personality type, as presented by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) instrument, identifies four such preferences.

Psychological type is a personality pattern resulting from the interaction of these four innate preferences. Conscious behavioral choices are influenced by psychological type as well as environmental demands. As people tend to develop behaviors, skills and attitudes associated with their type, the more they use these natural preferences in their work, the more energized, engaged and productive they will be.

Pinpointing the Best Role
As innate characteristics are identified, insight into talents and interests will emerge that will help identify a new role linked to an employee’s innate strengths. Consider how the following occupational themes from the Strong Interest Inventory — an assessment that compares people’s interests to those like them who have found satisfying careers — best describe employees’ interests, work activities, potential skills and personal values: Social, Artistic, Enterprising, Realistic and Conventional.

Support Individual Learning Styles
Perceiving — the cognitive process governing how we take in new information — is a critical component of optimal learning, which will take place when retraining aligns with the employee’s learning style. In designing training, consider that according to researchers Nancy Schaubhut and Richard C. Thompson’s 2009 book MBTI Type Tables International, approximately 73 percent of the population has a preference for sensing, or learning by focusing on facts and details, and may become frustrated with theoretical material unless they see its practical applications.

For tried and true employees, the retraining process could place them in a position to add even more value to the organization. The journey to a new career, however, may offer a few roadblocks, which can be overcome by helping them understand what makes them tick. According to personality type theory, differences in behavior result from people’s inborn tendencies to use their minds in different ways. Understanding their natural strengths and gifts provides clarity about why certain roles may be more energizing and comfortable.

The retraining process will yield better results as the trainer follows an approach that includes identifying the employees’ natural preferences for perceiving information; determining their work personality or what aspects of a job will keep them motivated at work; tailoring the training program to their particular learning style; and understanding all of the aforementioned to minimize stress. This process will help guide employees to hone skills that fully leverage their innate talents, and step into a role where they’ll perform better and enjoy it more.


Read “How to Retrain for a Second Career”