From the Archives…. From Winter 2012 newsletter

Taking a step back to move forward!

By Jeff Myrhe, Employment Advisor and Kelly Hodges, Production Manager

In October {2012}, Employment Specialists Anne Ralles and Sarah Dooley, and Employment Advisor, Jeff Myhre, attended the Marc Gould and Associates Fourth Annual National Discovery Retreat in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The three-day informal get-together, led by Discovery pioneer Mike Calahan, focused on finding new ways of looking at how to facilitate successful employment for the people we serve.

Although the concept of Discovery (a form of Customized Employment) has been around for decades, ongoing research continues to inform new approaches to working successfully with those we serve. The updated information energized the TSE representatives to approach the job seeking process with a new-found optimism.

This Discovery process promotes three key elements: the job seeker’s interests, their contributions (or skills), and conditions (their needs, rather than deficits.) Using these key elements as a guide provides Employment Advisors and Specialists with a more efficient, comprehensive, and successful approach to employment:

  1. A better understanding of a persons interests aids in job sustainability. Naturally, the more fulfilled someone is in their work, the more likely they are to be successful in it.
  2. A new perspective on a client’s contributions(or skills) helps to more easily translate everyday life tasks into actual job skills. This new view creates more job possibilities to the job seeker.
  3. Finally, presenters impressed upon attendees the importance focusing on creative ways in which we can meet an individuals needs in the workplace (conditions) instead of coming to hasty decisions about limitations.

Much of the retreat focused on viewing the individuals we serve with new eyes by simply asking the question, “Who is this person?” Through lectures and exercises, presenters invited conference-goers to take “a step back” and understand those they serve in a new way. The Discovery process promotes this by simply spending time with those we serve (as opposed to evaluating them) in the settings where they have the best opportunities to express and truly BE themselves.

Job seeker Sia Pha’s Discovery path led her to her current job at World Market in Roseville. Sia’s love of “all things that smell nice” was a common theme that emerged through  casual conversation. Sia and Jeff explored bath and beauty shops, perfume counters, candle stores, and gift shops. These “window shopping” experiences were followed by an informational interview at Mitrebox, a gift/framing store in Minneapolis, where it became apparent that Sia, not only enjoyed the candles and sachets that were sold there, but that she had an eye for color and design as well. Sia’s enthusiasm for the framing/design side the business inspired the two store owners to invite her to weigh-in on current framing projects, and to also step behind the counter to ring up a sale. That afternoon, the Discovery focus expanded from “all things that smell nice”, to “all things that are beautiful”. Sia’s ability (through her own Discovery journey) to identify and convey her passion for design, color, and beauty to potential employers was the key to beginning her new career at World Market!

Tom’s employment journey started similarly through conversations with Production Manager, Kelly Hodges, his parents, and his county Case Manager.  Tom’s areas of skill and interest that emerged were sports and food service. The main interest area that rose to the top of the list was how often Tom goes golfing as well as how much he truly enjoys it! Several informational interviews were then pursued in the golf area, both retail and golf courses. We visited Golf Galaxy store, Hillcrest, Keller, and Phalen golf courses.

These were all great meetings, but Phalen Golf Course proved to be the key!  We met with Jody, the golf pro and manager, and it all seemed to click.  By the end of the meeting she was asking Tom his ideal number of hours he would like to work and let us know she would love to have him start, but needed to get some approval first.  Within weeks, Tom was starting his new position at Phalen Golf Course.  He would be helping maintain a clean course and driving range.  It was the perfect fit— not only did Tom find a job working at a golf course, but one that is close to home and the hours he preferred.  Phalen has been an amazing work opportunity for Tom, giving him more and more responsibilities as the summer progressed and working around his busy schedule.  Tom couldn’t be happier that such a perfect match has been found.  Thank you, Phalen, for making Tom’s Dream come true!