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WORK LIFE Facilitator Guide 2016.1

WORK LIFE Facilitator Guide By: Michael Rhodes, Andrew Vincent, J. Mark Bowers Editorial Team: Jerilyn Sanders, Amy Kuenzel, Cindy Chapple Photography: Gretchen Becker Shaw Work Life would not be possible without countless hours of thought and insight given by so many of our friends and partners. We would like to give a hearty thanks to all the graduates of Advance Memphis' jobspreparedness class, as well as staff and volunteers who participated in creating and improving this material. Without them, Work Life could have never have been developed. We would also like to thank Hayden Blythe, our field test partner at Hope for Suffolk. Finally, we’d like to offer our appreciation and respect to Jobs for Life for their inspiration in the development of Work Life. Their input, expertise, and partnership have been immeasurably valuable throughout this process. The Chalmers Center equips churches with resources and tools to walk alongside people who are poor, breaking the spiritual, social, and material bonds of poverty. As a result, churches model Jesus’ heart for the poor in practical ways, showing His care and power over every part of life. The mission of Advance Memphis is to serve adults in the Cleaborn/Foote community of inner city Memphis by empowering residents to acquire knowledge, resources, and skills to be economically self-sufficient through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Advance strives to reflect the hope of the coming Kingdom of God in the 38126 zip code through transformational relationships and economic development.

Copyright © 2015 The Chalmers Center (minor permissions pending) Permission from the Chalmers Center is required for reproduction or distribution of this material. This curriculum is designed to be used by certified facilitators. To learn about training, give feedback, or for further inquiries, please contact: Chalmers Center 507 McFarland Rd Lookout Mountain, GA 30750 USA



Participants: Up to 20 men and women that come from multi-generational poverty contexts. Many suffer workplace barriers such as criminal background, discrimination, lack of High School Diploma/GED, and/or drug use. Participants are:

Created in the image of God with unique gifts and abilities, each having value to contribute to their workplace, neighborhood, and other participants;

Unemployed or underemployed persons who are currently and historically have struggled to succeed in careers;

Willing to discuss spiritual issues and how they affect life, though not necessarily committed to the Christian faith. Some are practicing; others cultural Christians; some may belong to other religions.

Willing to make changes beyond the surface, using their unique experiences and perspectives to add value to God’s world through work;

May or may not have a high school diploma or equivalent; most can read and write; without serious mental handicap.

Facilitators: Facilitators have a basic understanding of the Biblical story, emotional health and healing, and have succeeded in a job in the US. Facilitators are part of a leadership team at their Work Life site that is committed to ongoing support of participants in their careers. Work Life sites have the capacity to: •

Foster mentoring relationships with participants;

Network with potential employers for job placement;

Recruit participants and host regular meetings;

Become co-learners with participants through dialogue and mutual respect, gleaning from their unique experiences and perspectives; and

Assist participants in finding a job and provide ongoing support.


Work Life contains 19 units. Each unit is designed to run for 2 hours. Sites are encouraged to hold courses 3 times per week for 6 consecutive weeks, or 2 times per week for 9 consecutive weeks.

An active Work Life site should expect to invest 20 hours per week on the program. This includes: recruitment of participants and allies, ally training orientation, general administration and logistics, facilitating course units, assisting participants with coursework (outside of class), networking with employers, and assisting participants with job placement. This time also must include extensive support for participants in their actual quest for work. Sites must devote as much or more time to networking with potential employers and assisting graduates with job placement as they do time to in-class activities. No church or non-profit should offer Work Life if they are not prepared to provide significant ongoing support to graduates in their quest to move from underemployment to full-time, self-sustaining work.


Facilitators of Work Life need access to training and tools that reflect the realities of a multigenerational poverty context and best practices in adult learning. Ministries are in need of a job readiness training program that a) grows out of a commitment to embrace mutual brokenness and mutual learning across socio-economic classes and cultures within the community development process, and b) takes a holistic and “life-skills” approach to preparing participants for work readiness.


Participants may have experienced fruitlessness in previous efforts – often a combination of factors such as (1) bad decisions, (2) unfortunate circumstances, and (3) exploitive practices in the community and in the marketplace – all which have caused unhealthy thinking, distrust of others, and general pessimism about the future. They may be stalled out in education and career so they become stuck in unhealthy patterns, such as addiction, violence, emotional poverty, job jumping, wasting time, or crumbling family. Participants may not have a thriving relationship with Christ and lack spiritual sustenance. Many also lack the spiritual, emotional, educational, vocational, financial, motivational, and personal skills, attitudes, values, and simple direction to pursue biblical shalom in their life. Work Life sites flourish in local ministries with the capacity (learning space, relationships, mentors, time) to go deep with participants in a jobs readiness training program that supports them in their life and careers over the long term. Sites are located in the US/Canada, and have adequate capacity to run the training program, walking alongside participants on the road to sustainable employment both during and after the training process.




Examining God’s Good Design Gone Bad



Celebrating How Jesus Restores All Things



Building on Past Experience



Knowing Your Own Story



Overcoming Your Roadblocks



Sharing Your Life Story



Building Character and Skills



Discovering How the Work World Works



Exploring Our Gifts


10. Adapting to Professional Culture


11. Identifying What Employers Want


12. Speaking and Listening


13. Resolving Conflict


14. Maintaining Healthy Relationships


15. Practicing Communication Skills


16. Putting Best Practices to Work on the Job


17. Creating a 60-Second Commercial


18. Leaving Impressions at an Interview


19. Persevering on the Long Journey


20. Course Illustrations




WORK LIFE: AN INTRODUCTION The Work Life curriculum is founded on the belief that God has designed all people in His image with unique gifts and abilities, and given them the task of adding value to His world through work. God's people are called to recognize that all legitimate work is ultimately work done under the Lordship of Christ. If even the thief is called to work with his hands in order to have something to give (Ephesians 4:28), then surely God has called all of His people to do good work—not out of some ethic of independence—but as God's chosen means by which people participate in and contribute to the life of the community. Work is good; it was a part of creation in the Garden of Eden and will be a part of abundant life in the new heavens and the new earth. However, in North America today, both low-income and higher-income communities have broken views of work. Many low-income individuals have increasingly turned away from work as a meaningful or even helpful part of their lives. Myriad factors contribute to the reality that low-income individuals are not working—particularly in communities dominated by multi-generational poverty. Having a marred view of themselves, many have lost the vision for stewarding the resources and potential that God has given to them. Work Life is designed to inspire this population to hear God's Word calling them toward re-creation in every area of life, and more specifically, by adding value to His world through work. In discovering their potential as unique stewards of God’s world, unemployed or underemployed people can make significant, meaningful change in their lives by transforming their beliefs and choices around work. Unemployed persons are not the only demographic whose views on work are distorted. Many successful, middle class North Americans—including those who have written and may use this curriculum—may demonstrate a marked over-confidence in themselves and in our economic system. Few of us relate to the Bible’s testimony that the poor's land produces a crop, but injustice sweeps it away (Proverbs 13:23), but such injustice is an every day reality for many of our poor communities. We are often blind to the ways in which structural injustice, racism, inequitable educational systems, and problematic economic systems mean that often the poor make all the right choices and still end up in very difficult situations. Many of our low-income neighbors desire employment, but struggle to find work that sustains them. Work Life has tried to capture this tension, reflecting the importance of individual choice as well as the injustices and inequities of the market place. If you're looking for a curriculum that simply tells low-income individuals "do better and you'll get better," Work Life is not for you, and many of the segments will not make any sense. Ignoring the realities of injustice in the work place, in our view, means blaming the victim, shaming the poor, and increasingly marring the identity of our neighbors made in God's image. We encourage you to use Work Life to facilitate genuine discussion around workplace issues that you may see very differently from the way members of other economic groups see them. As we co-learn with participants, may we all recognize that our world, including its marketplaces and economic systems, is deeply broken; however, our God is doing powerful work to transform both systems and individuals into His new creation.

WHO SHOULD PARTICIPATE? WHO SHOULD FACILITATE? Work Life is designed to be used by local churches or organizations that seek to empower unemployed or underemployed individuals with the character and skills needed to retain employment. The course curriculum is designed for groups ranging from 5-20 participants. The target group for the Work Life curriculum is adult


men and women who are caught in multi-generational poverty contexts. Participants in this demographic have intellectual potential and have been created in the image of God, given unique gifts and abilities, and have a lot of value to contribute—to other participants, their neighborhoods, and employers in the marketplace; however, many may experience barriers such as criminal background, workplace discrimination, no High School Diploma/GED, and/or drug use. The best Work Life facilitators have a deep understanding of the Biblical story, as well as a basic understanding of emotional health and healing, and have succeeded in a job in the US for at least 2 years. They offer participants hope by increasing their confidence, drawing out unique ways they can add value to God’s world, and helping them to build character and skills necessary for a healthy work life. A robust Work Life facilitator must also acknowledge the reality of structural injustice and the real prejudice low-income individuals face in their workplace and community. Facilitators are not lone rangers—they are part of a leadership team at their Work Life site that is committed to ongoing support of participants in their careers. Work Life sites have the capacity to: •

Foster mentoring relationships with participants;

Network with potential employers for job placement;

Recruit participants and host regular meetings;

Become co-learners with participants through dialogue and mutual respect, gleaning from their unique experiences and perspectives; and

Assist participants in finding a job and provide ongoing support.

WHEN AND WHERE SHOULD WORK LIFE CLASSES TAKE PLACE? Work Life sites have the capacity (learning space, relationships, mentors, time) to go deep with participants in a jobs readiness training program. Sites are located in the US/Canada, and have adequate capacity to run the training program and walk alongside participants across time. Work Life contains 19 units. Each unit is designed to run for 2 hours. Sites are encouraged to hold courses 3 times per week for 6-7 consecutive weeks, or 2 times per week for 9-10 consecutive weeks. The Work Life learning space should be large enough to accommodate up to 20 people with access to tables for writing, wall space for posting group activities, and physical space for small group discussion and activities. An active Work Life site should expect to invest 20 hours per week on the program. This includes: recruitment of participants and allies, ally training, general administration and logistics, facilitating course units, assisting participants with coursework (outside of class), networking with employers, and assisting participants with job placement. Sites should plan to spend as much time during active training weeks as in the post-course weeks assisting participants with job placement. No church or non-profit should offer Work Life if they are not prepared to provide significant ongoing support to graduates in their quest to move from underemployment to full-time, self-sustaining work.


WORK LIFE: COURSE MAP • Unit 1: Examining God's Good Design Gone Bad • Unit 2: Celebrating How Jesus Restores All Things • Unit 3: Building on Past Experience • Unit 4: Knowing Your Own Story Laying Work Life • Unit 5: Overcoming Your Roadblocks Foundations • Unit 6: Sharing Your Life Story

Adding Value at Work

Integrating Work Life Communication

Getting Hired and Promoted

• Unit 7: Building Character and Skills • Unit 8: Discovering How the Work World Works • Unit 9: Exploring Our Gifts • Unit 10: Adapting to Professional Culture • Unit 11: Identifying What Employers Want

• Unit 12: Speaking and Listening • Unit 13: Resolving Conflict • Unit 14: Maintaining Healthy Relationships • Unit 15: Practicing Communication Skills

• Unit 16: Putting Best Practices to Work on the Job • Unit 17: Creating a 60-Second Commercial • Unit 18: Leaving Impressions at an Interview • Unit 19: Persevering on the Long Journey


WHO ARE ALLIES? Recruiting committed, solid allies is foundational for a successful Work Life site—and yet also one of the most difficult pieces in establishing a strong site. Allies are a primary long-term point of contact with participants during the course, and especially after the course is over. An ally is much like a mentor, but because the term mentor can imply a superior-inferior relationship, or an age difference, we prefer to use the term ally. Allies should be invited to attend the Work Life classes alongside participants; this gives them a context to develop a relationship and begin unpacking issues together. In our model, a group or pair of allies is placed around pairs/small groups of participants in the Work Life program. When participants have access to several supportive allies, this provides a context for personal growth, access to social resources, and supportive relationships that encourage participants in their work life, and ultimately, encourage reconciliation for allies and participants as the family of God.

MAKING LIFE STORIES COUNT Unit 6: Sharing your Life Story is very different from any other day. In our experience, many participants find sharing about their past difficult to even consider doing on the front end. We hear participants say things like: “It’s good to just let the past be the past.” However, for many, it is incredibly life giving to share their journey. This part of Work Life can be a crucial step in emotional healing for participants. It also gives facilitators an opportunity to identify folks who may need extra encouragement, help, or even professional counseling. However, the life stories segment also presents unique challenges. To make this day work, ensure: ! Everyone tells their story, including facilitators and allies in the class. Nobody should be allowed to listen to the stories unless they’re willing to share as well, personally going through the Life Stories exercises in Unit 6 that the participants also use. It’s best for facilitators to go first to model real vulnerability, rather than simply listing out a few key events from their lives. ! Participants do the assignments on Life Maps at the end of Unit 4. This ensures that participants have clear language and format to create and share their story. ! Facilitators offer a non-judgmental presence for the stories. Don’t use this as an opportunity to condemn behavior; rather, let it be a place of empathy and healing. ! Participants and facilitators take time afterward to thank/encourage others in writing. ! Safety is created by dividing the group into men and women. While this is not essential, we have found that dividing the groups by gender creates a safer environment for everyone and is strongly recommended for a more open experience. These life stories can also take a lot of time. Be sensitive in helping people stay on time, and perhaps consider subdividing the groups further if necessary, especially if you have allies who are willing to help. As a facilitator, you may be overwhelmed by the stories of pain and suffering that you hear. Many low-income people have been through things that middle-class folks find simply unimaginable. It is absolutely vital that facilitators and allies create space in their lives/schedules to discuss their own emotions over these life stories afterwards, and to spend some time in prayerful recovery when necessary.


MAKING THE MOST OF GAME DAYS Adults learn best when content is immediately applicable and relevant to their lives. For this reason, it is a great value-add whenever a site can find ways to incorporate actual work opportunities for participants during the life of the course. However, this can be logistically very difficult. For this reason, we’ve made sure to include Game Days. Units 11, 15, and 16 are game days. During these units, at least some portion of the class time will be devoted to a learning game. In Unit 11: Identifying What Employers Want, participants will design a business, be given case studies about their employees, and be required to make decisions about hiring, firing, and promotion based on these case studies. This gives the participants a view “behind the curtain” at work, and helps them understand their future employer's perspective. In Unit 15: Practicing Communication Skills, participants will get a chance to engage in real-life conflict simulations, and will be awarded points for effectively using the communication tools studied. And in Unit 16: Putting Best Practices to Work on the Job, participants will work in teams on a “paper airplane assembly line". This workplace simulation gives participants an opportunity to tie together all the elements they've learned about how to show up to work ready to add value. Because adults learn best when material is relevant and applicable, these learning games are an essential part of bringing the concepts of the course to life. They also provide some of the most poignant learning opportunities, as participants see how the concepts work in a more real-life scenario, and discover where they haven't yet quite mastered the concepts we're discussing. While these simulations are fun, they do present unique challenges to the facilitator. Some tips for making the most of these opportunities include: 1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. On game days, it’s particularly important to read through the material and study it ahead of time. Make sure you understand the flow well, prepare materials ahead of time, and anticipate any misunderstandings participants might have about directions. Also, feel free to make adaptions or contextualize the games as needed; in Unit 15, one site uses a webcam to record the participants competing, and then "rolls back the tape" to award points! 2. Chill Out. Expect the games to get participants so involved that things get even louder and more chaotic than normal. This is okay! Remember that the energy is part of the package as you do your best to create a learning environment. Sometimes encouraging participants to use other tools from the rest of the course, such as code-switching into professional culture or speaking using the 5 Steps to Smart Speaking, will help you find the controlled chaos sweet spot. 3. Get Help. Particularly in Units 11 and 15, it is very helpful to have more than one person facilitating. Get some of your in-class allies involved, or nominate participants from the class to help you pull it off. 4. Keep It Safe, Keep It Real. When somebody gets in an argument over a paper airplane or yells at somebody after losing in a conflict solution simulation, these are opportunities for people to really learn real-life lessons. But this has to be done in a gentle way. Gently remind people that this is why they're doing the games: to prepare to use the tools when life gets real. Draw out as much learning as possible.


5. Go with the Flow. Most of the games provide you with more options than you need. Unlike most of the lessons, if you don't get to everything, this doesn't necessarily mean that content is lost. Take time to discuss answers, unpack participant's thoughts, and try it again if participants don't seem to get it.

PREPARING PARTICIPANTS FOR WORK THROUGH ACCOUNTABILITY In order to truly help graduates find and keep a job, sites must make sure that completion of the Work Life course truly demonstrates basic readiness to work, particularly in the areas of punctuality and tardiness. Work Life participants may have never held down a job or possess long gaps in their employment history; some may be returning from the prison system. Work Life should ensure them an opportunity to build a reference by showing that they can come to class, work hard, participate, cooperate with others, and complete what they start. But this only can happen if sites have a strict attendance and punctuality policy they communicate to participants, and then, hold them accountable to maintain. This allows sites to provide full, legitimate employment support at the end of the class. While it's important to make sure the classroom provides a safe learning environment to adapt to professional culture, basic standards of professionalism must also be upheld. If sites never "fire" anyone from class for not showing up on time or coming to class, they probably aren't truly preparing participants for the real world of work, and thus cannot with integrity tell potential employers that they ought to hire graduates.

MAKING PRACTICE INTERVIEWS MEANINGFUL In the last unit of the curriculum, Unit 19: Persevering on the Long Journey, participants are required to participate in a practice interview. The facilitator's role during the practice interview portion of the final day is to create an as-real-as-possible simulation of an actual interview situation for the participants. Since this is the culmination of the Getting Hired and Promoted segment of the course, participants should come with all the tools they've developed over the course of this segment: resume, 60-second commercial, answers to difficult questions, etc. They should be encouraged to demonstrate their code-switching skills by dressing for success and using professional body language. It's important that the facilitator or allies not do the practice interviews, because participants have become so comfortable with them that it won’t seem very real. Instead, the facilitator should have a team of volunteer professionals come to the class to conduct the interviews. Try to find volunteers who currently or have in the past actually done interviews in their own jobs. Typically, the interviewer will ask the participant what job they'd like to pretend to apply for before beginning the interview. Also, usually, the class is broken into groups, so that although only one person is being interviewed at a time, the other people in that group are watching the interview as well. The number of practice interviewers you need will depend on the size of your group, but remember to use well the limited time you have to do the practice interviews and reflect together on the questions. One note: If you can strategically recruit volunteer practice interviewers who also could actually hire participants, this is a major value-add. Some sites have seen people get jobs through practice interviews that didn’t end up being so “practice” after all!


PREPARING TO FACILITATE WORK LIFE Each unit of Work Life begins with an information box that contains a summary of the objectives, materials needed, preparations, and time required to conduct the unit. Review this information carefully. The “Materials Needed” section lists the items you’ll need to gather before the unit. The “Preparation” section lists actions needed before the unit begins—like creating flipcharts or researching local prices and services. Other important information about Work Life is as follows: Study the objectives. The objectives in the information box for all Work Life units are each mapped to a specific learning task. Studying this connection helps the facilitator to focus and direct each task in the unit toward accomplishing the learning objective. Be mindful of the time. Allow participants to speak and engage with the content, but keep the unit moving. Otherwise, key technical content may not be covered. Utilize the 4As1. The design of each Work Life unit uses the 4As of learning: ANCHOR the content in the participants’ experiences, ADD new content to the unit, APPLY the new content through an activity during the unit, then ask participants to take the new learning AWAY through small commitments to act. Take full advantage of this framework to encourage reflection and action on the new knowledge, skills, and attitudes being formed. Adapt to the needs of your target group. The content of Work Life was created in a low-income urban context in Memphis, TN. However, your setting may be entirely different! An example or story might better connect with your group if you change it from what is written in the curriculum. This is highly advisable! You know your participants best—feel free to make the content as relevant as possible. The Work Life curriculum is not static—it serves as a tool and a guide for you. After each unit, post all flipcharts created on the walls of the training room. Leave these charts up and continue adding to the walls each week to build on further learning. As the units progress, participants can easily see and call to mind past units – and the facilitator can draw on previous learning tasks. Posting participant responses that are well written on the chart also affirms their contributions and helps them to own the learning process. Make the Scripture accessible. For ease of understanding, all Scripture used in Work Life is from easilyread versions of the Bible like the New Living Translation or the Contemporary English Version. Using a readable version and printing the passages directly in the Work Life Participant Guide helps to create a comfortable environment for those who may not have had much prior experience locating passages in a Bible.


Derived from Global Learning Partners’ 4 Steps for Learning That Lasts, 2012.



Regular font = specific information or instructions for the facilitator to read or paraphrase to the participants.

Italics font = instructions for the facilitator. Do not read this text to the participants.

Bold font = highlights action verbs that connect the participants to the content through actionoriented tasks.

Arrow (➢) = specific open questions for the facilitator to ask. Deliver this text as it is written. Allow for discussion time and a variety of voices to be heard.

PRINCIPLES FOR GOOD FACILITATION OF WORK LIFE 2 Participation and dialogue are essential in adult learning. As the facilitator, remember that you are also a learner. The participants come to the event with rich experience and have many things to add. All participants, including you, must both teach and learn. The facilitator is responsible for engaging the learners and listening to them with respect and interest. Discussions about work and workplace culture are sensitive and intimately connected with issues related to personal relationships. It is important to establish a safe, affirming environment so learners will participate in discussions, share their experiences, and feel comfortable asking questions. Facilitating group discussion •

Listen carefully to what people say, and thank them for speaking. When people feel safe, they speak more freely, give honest answers, ask questions and, in the end, learn more.

If people give a very short answer, you might want to encourage them to say more. You could say, “Tell us more about that.”

Avoid interrupting people while they are talking. If you must interrupt someone who is talking too long, do so, but apologize.

Try to have as many people as possible participate in the discussion. Encourage this by saying, “Let’s hear from a new voice...”

Use paired discussions where indicated. More participants especially very quiet ones, will have the opportunity to share their thoughts.

Telling a story


Know the story well and practice telling it dynamically before the unit.

Show different feelings on your face and in your gestures, such as worry, excitement and fear.

Be sure to follow a story with the questions presented in the curriculum. Most learning happens after the story, during the discussion.

Derived from Savings: You Can Do It! by Freedom From Hunger, 2008.


Presenting information •

Be familiar with important points to avoid reading them word-for-word.

After an important point, participants think about it.




Look at the participants as you give the information. Even if you read the information, look up occasionally so that people do not feel ignored. Watch people for signs of confusion. If you see signs of confusion, stop and ask what questions they have.

Asking open questions


Create a safe learning environment.

Give feedback to the participants and praise them for their efforts.

Show respect by valuing the participants’ knowledge and experience with the subject.

Role-plays, learning games, and art affirm and draw on different learning styles present.

Let the participants know that you are a learner with them.

Ask open—not closed—questions to promote discussion and interaction.

Use open questions to draw out the participants’ • Use small groups (as suggested in the ideas, opinions and experiences. These questions units). Small groups help involve all help participants think for themselves, discuss the participants, build a sense of teamwork and create safety. issues and make decisions. A closed question sounds like this: “Any comments?” An example of an open question: “What can you add to this discussion?”

Pause after asking an open question to allow participants time to think. Look around the group expectantly as you wait for someone to answer.

If no one responds, ask the same question using different words and pause again to indicate you are waiting for someone to answer.

Once someone volunteers a response, take some time before proceeding to the next question; ask if someone else has something to add to the first response.

Listen to the responses for important points and commend the speakers.

Creating safety •

Learners need to feel that their ideas and contributions will be valued. Encourage even small efforts and be careful not to judge or humiliate individuals in front of others.

Some subjects, especially related to relationships and money, may be difficult to discuss in a group. Be sensitive and aware of the participants’ reactions and protect their feelings. Having the participants set guidelines and ground rules up front helps to create this safety.

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DISCOVERING HOW THE WORK WORLD WORKS OBJECTIVES By the end of this lesson, we will have: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Reviewed God’s design for our relationship to work and considered new points; Compared car price pyramid and income pyramid to highlight the relationship between education/skills and income; Debated fairness of income disparity system; Contrasted types of job responsibilities and income levels between professional, skilled, and low-skilled jobs; Discussed why employers choose to pay more for different jobs; Calculated the economic value of a GED or high school diploma; Analyzed examples of incomes in typical warehouse jobs; and Noted and responded to barriers to increasing education.


Flipchart paper, markers

Small markers for each table

Sticky notes


Create Flipcharts: The Car Pyramid, The Labor Pyramid, Catherine’s Work Timeline, Darius’ Work Timeline, Barriers to Increasing Skills and Education

TIME 120 Minutes


Work Life Facilitator Guide



1A: Examine the flipchart on the wall with the 4 Key Relationships represented as a house. " What do you remember about these relationships? " Specifically, what was the design of our relationship with the world (work)? " What do you remember about the 3 types of work we discussed? 1B: Review the formula for success: Character + Skills = Success. Let’s take a few minutes to summarize the likely outcomes of these two different types of workers. Call out: " What happens when a person has really strong character, but no skills? " What happens when a person has good skills, but terrible character? After 3 minutes, we’ll hear some of your ideas. [The person with character but no skills usually has a better shot at holding down a job. They keep their positions for a long time, but the problem is that they never advance and almost always struggle financially even though they work a lot. The person with skills but no character may get a great opportunity at a good job right after school, but they will usually lose that job pretty quickly. Eventually, they will struggle to find work if they can’t show up on time or get along with people.] 1C: Let’s read the box in your notes entitled: Three Points to Consider about Work. To frame our time together today, let’s have different volunteers read out each of the points.

TH RE E P OINT S TO C ON SIDER ABOUT WORK God sees value in every job. God is glorified in the way we work, regardless of what task we’re performing or how much money we’re making. While some people may value certain jobs more than others, usually when the Bible talks about work, it talks about working with our hands. As the greatest example, Jesus was a humble carpenter who worked with his hands. Everyone starts in jobs that don’t make much. Even most millionaires started in jobs that were entry level and minimum wage. So, don’t get discouraged if you’re starting out in a low-skilled category. One of the purposes of this class is to help you break this cycle. Good reasons exist not to go to school. If you choose not to further your education, you do not need to feel guilty. However, you must be realistic about your future if you don’t add skills and education. While “school isn’t for everyone,” it may be for a lot of people who think it’s not for them. Talk to someone who went to school about your fears/reasons for not going to school.


Unit 8: Discovering How the World Works

" What key points stand out to you from this reading? Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. Underlying all of this, we must remember God’s design for us when making decisions about our careers. This is the difference between someone who just gets a job versus someone who thrives at work. Based on this design, we should ask ourselves two questions: " What kinds of jobs will adequately provide for my family? " And, what kinds of jobs will allow me to use my gifts and abilities to add value to the world?



2A: Examine the graph in your notebook entitled: The Car Pyramid7. I’ll also draw it on the flipchart. Let’s examine and describe all of the details of the graph together.


Derived from Jobs for Life Instructor Guide, 2008. Used by permission.


Work Life Facilitator Guide

2B: Share aloud: what is the main points this graph demonstrates? Focus on the various arrows to understand the aim of the graph. This graph shows that the more features and designs a car company adds to a car, the more that car will sell for. There is nothing wrong with the Versa – it’s a great car because it fulfills its purpose of getting you from point A to point B. It sells for much less because that’s the price people are willing to pay for it. Nissan sells it for the price they think customers will pay. 2C: Besides the price, name the differences between: " The Versa and the Corvette Stingray; " The Corolla and the Rolls Royce. [Style of the car, more comfortable, power locks, bigger engine, more luxury items such as a sun roof, leather seats, seat warmers] It costs the manufacturer more time and money to add these special features—bigger engines, leather seats, and sunroofs. But, it will sell for more money, so that’s why they do it. Now, let’s suppose that it costs the manufacturer $8,990 to build the Versa. " According to this graph how much profit will they make per car sold? [$3,000]. Now let’s suppose it costs the manufacturer $17,225 to make the Corvette Stingray because of the different style and features. " Why is that a smart investment for the company? [Because they’ll make more profit. It will cost them thousands extra to make the car, but when they sell it they’ll make $40,000 profit.] Companies spend more money on making cars with extra features because they sell for more profit. As long as they can sell the cars they make, this is a good investment. However, notice that they make and sell more Versas than the other cars since more people can afford to buy those cars. " What might happen if the manufacturer of this car, tried to sell the Versa for $25,000 instead of $11,990? [The people who are just looking for a basic car would go to another company and buy the equivalent.]


Unit 8: Discovering How the World Works

2D: These are great observations. You may be thinking: what in the world does this have to do with getting a job? Let’s examine the next graph in your notebook entitled: The Labor Pyramid8. I’ve also drawn it on the flipchart. Let’s examine and describe all of the details of the graph together.

Call out the dollar earnings per hour as they correspond to education level and types of jobs. " What is education level next to the low-skilled labor category? " What kinds of full-time jobs are included in this category? " How much do these jobs make? 2E: Now, re-examine the car and labor pyramids. What do you note about the relationship between more features/qualifications and making more money?


Derived from Jobs for Life Instructor Guide, 2008. Used by permission.


Work Life Facilitator Guide

[Look for the relationship between features and designs of cars and the price versus the relationship between education and skills and the amount employers are willing to pay for various employees.] Good point. People, including employers, are willing to pay more for something—or someone—with more features. Let’s think this through together. 2F: Examine the arrows depicting the number of people qualified for the job, which is wider than the arrows depicting the number of jobs. While there are more low-skilled jobs than other types of jobs, there are also more people qualified for these jobs than there are jobs available. 2G: Call out the wage amounts associated with each category: #

$7-$12 an hour for low-skilled jobs;


$12-$25 an hour for skilled jobs;


$20-$50 an hour for professional jobs; and


$40-$100+ for high-level professional jobs.

This shows that even inside these various categories, some people make more money than others; however, there are always minimums and caps of what these jobs earn. For example, a line worker would never earn less than $7.25 because that’s the minimum wage law, but it’s possible that another line worker could earn $9 an hour; however, it’s very unlikely that a line worker would ever earn more than $12 an hour even if they had the job for 20 years. " What questions do you have?



So far, we’re just stating the facts about how the job market works in our country. Now, let’s think about why this is fair or why it isn’t fair. To do that, let’s hold a debate. 3A: Raise your hand if you think this is fair. Now, raise your hand if you think this is unfair. Stand up and walk to this side of the room if you voted that you believe this is unfair. Stand up and walk to the other side of the room if you voted that you believe this is fair. Have a seat in your new location. We’ll take 5 minutes to rotate back and forth from each side and hear your arguments given respectfully. [Do not discredit anyone’s comments because some may be sharing opinions based on painful personal experiences. If these experiences come out, you may be able to tie them into the lesson later on. Don’t persuade one way or the other unless everyone is on one side of the debate.] There are certainly both fair and unfair aspects of the job market system. Regardless of whether the system is fair or not, we must learn to understand how it works and why. At a deeper level, everyone everywhere has


Unit 8: Discovering How the World Works

experienced brokenness in his or her relationship with the world and work, but God offers us the opportunity to begin experiencing re-creation in our own work. This gives us hope that we can add value and provide for our families, as well as heal from our own brokenness and weakness - even within a system that is broken.



4A: To flesh these ideas out in real life, listen to a story called A Day at The Pharmacy. As you listen, think about the jobs at a pharmacy – like CVS or Walgreens. Consider how each job is different and why.

A DAY AT TH E P H AR MA C Y Adam works hard. He is a low-skilled laborer at the local pharmacy. He stocks shelves every minute he’s on the clock. He unloads boxes from the trucks, unpacks the goods, and then hauls away the boxes to be recycled. Even on hot days when it’s 90 degrees, or when his back is bothering him, Adam can be seen loading and unloading, unpacking and discarding. He makes $8 an hour. Kim also works at the pharmacy, but she is a Nurse Assistant in the walk-in clinic. If you were to watch Nurse Kim, you’d see her checking blood pressures, giving strep throat tests, filling prescriptions, and managing the cash register. She just got a raise, and is making $20 dollars an hour helping the pharmacist. Sheldon also works at the pharmacy, and has been a pharmacist for 10 years now. A typical day for him includes diagnosing patients, writing prescriptions, managing the aids and technicians, and answering customer’s questions. He makes around $35 an hour.

" Who do you feel is working the hardest out of all these people? " Why is Adam making $8 per hour while the people who are sitting down the most, Nurse Kim and the pharmacist, Sheldon, seem to be making the most? " Why do you think a company is willing to pay so much more money for certain employees compared to others? 4B: Certainly this is because of their degrees, but it goes deeper than just having a certificate. Let’s continue the story to help us understand why employers are willing to pay more.


Work Life Facilitator Guide

A DRIA NA AN D DER EK V ISIT T H E P HA RM A C Y Last month, both Adriana and her husband Derek were feeling pretty sick. They went to the pharmacy to get seen by a nurse practitioner and to get a prescription. After waiting for a little while, Nurse Kim saw Adriana. She was with her for about 30 minutes. Then, she saw Derek for another 30 minutes. After that, they both went to stand in line and pick up their prescription. Adriana’s bill came to a total of $80 for the visit and $40 for the prescription. Derek’s bill was the same. Both were charged $120.

" How much money did Nurse Kim make for the pharmacy that hour? $240. " How much money did she cost the pharmacy? Around $20. " After paying Kim, how much revenue did the pharmacy make? $220. [Keep in mind they also have costs like insurance, taxes, workers comp, and electricity, so they don’t keep all that as profit]. 4C: Compare Nurse Kim to Adam, the shelf stocker. In the large group, let’s discuss how he helps the company to profit. His job is essential to the company - the shelves have to be stocked for the pharmacy to make money however, he doesn’t directly make money like the skilled and professional laborers. In fact, every hour he’s on the clock, the company is spending more money; whereas every hour Nurse Kim is on the clock, the company is profiting $120. Her job is not more important than Adam, but every hour she’s on the clock the company is making more money (as long as she’s seeing clients). Nurse Kim has worked much harder to get her job than Adam, oftentimes having to hold down multiple lower paying jobs while working hard in school and managing her family. She also has a lot more responsibility; not many people are going to complain about the shelf stocking, but they may complain about the medical care they receive.



So why do companies pay more for certain jobs? People who have degrees can often make more for the company. And everyone from Sheldon the pharmacist to Adam, the guy stocking shelves, wants more money for their job. So what’s the only way anyone on a job can make more money? [By helping the company make more money or save more money.] 5A: Earlier we examined pay ranges in every job category. This means that some nurse practitioners are making $35 an hour and others are making $40 an hour. At your tables, take 2 minutes to discuss how a nurse practitioner might get a pay raise from $35 to $40 per hour.


Unit 8: Discovering How the World Works

[Help participants understand that all these answers get back to the company making more money. For example, what if the nurse practitioner was just exceptional, and so the pharmacy started noticing that more clients came to see her than any of their other stores because she was doing such a good job that customers came back time and again. Or, what if all the other nurse practitioners were averaging 1.5 customers per hour, but she was averaging 3 customers per hour? They would pay her more because she’s making the company more money than the other employees.] 5B: Consider another example. Some shelf stockers are making $7.50 and others are making $10 per hour. Take 2 minutes at your tables to discuss how a shelf stocker could make $10 instead of $7.50. [Help participants see the importance of adding value to the company; however, note that when the shelf stocker works harder he saves the company more money. For example, if it normally takes 3 full time employees to get all the work done, but because one of the stockers is exceptional, the company might be able to get all the work done with just 2 employees. Let’s say they were each making $8 per hour, how much would it cost the pharmacy per hour to have 3 stockers on the clock? $24. But what if they dropped down to 2 stockers because of the exceptional employee, how much would it then cost the pharmacy? $16. The pharmacy should pay the exceptional employee $2 more an hour because he could be saving them $8 per hour.] 5C: Now, what if that shelf stocker is the best stocker that the pharmacy has ever had? Would he ever make more than $12 an hour? Discuss for 1 minute with a new partner. Then we’ll hear what you decided in the large group. 5D: Look at the arrow on the bottom of this pyramid - the one that says number of people qualified. That suggests that while there are lots of jobs in the low-skilled category, there are also a whole lot of people who can do those jobs. The low-skilled category represents jobs that can be taught to most people quickly. So while the pharmacy might be worried if their pharmacist walked out the door one day to go to another job, they might not really care all that much if the stocker does because they could get someone else easily. So, the only way the stocker can earn more than $12 per hour is to move into the next category by adding two things: skills and education. We’ve been thinking about how we can increase the amount of dollars per hour we can earn. It’s equally important, if not more important, to consider the stability of a job. 5E: Would a volunteer please explain the difference between a temp job and a full time job? [Temp jobs stand for temporary because they don’t last: you may work 50 hours one week, but then you may be out of work for 3 weeks before getting called back. Full time jobs are jobs where you can count on getting 40 hours of work all 52 weeks a year, and often times get some sick days and some vacation days.] " What if you had the choice of making $10 an hour at a job lasting from November to January or a job that would pay you $8 an hour for a job that would guarantee you pay for 40 hours a week all 52 weeks of the year? Let’s hear several opinions. [You would be a lot better off taking the $8 because over the course of the year, the stability of the job would mean that you would end up earning a lot more.]


Work Life Facilitator Guide

When we think about being able to provide more for our families, we must also think about full time work - not just how much money we make. And you don’t necessarily have to go to college or a technical school to get a full time job. 5F: For example, think about a warehouse job. Some line workers work as temps through a staffing service, but also some line workers doing the same job work directly for the company. When the line shuts down, the temps get sent home. For the full-time workers, the company comes up with something else for them to do. They will get their hours no matter what. Note how this connects to the wage pyramid that we discussed earlier. Even within the lower skills categories, there are distinctions between those who are temporary, and those who have more secure, full time jobs. In order to qualify for that full time job, however, there is an important thing you must have: a GED or High School Diploma.



6A: Listen to Catherine and Monica’s experience in getting their GED. As you listen, think about who makes the best decision for her long-term future.

C AT HE RIN E AN D M ONIC A ’S DIL EM M A Catherine and her friend Monica graduated from a jobs training class and were excited about getting their GED – they were ready to make some life changes! To make ends meet, they both started working part time while going to GED classes. They also both took the GED test the first time! Unfortunately, although both passed 3 sections, each failed 2 others. Meanwhile, because they were good workers, they were offered temporary overtime pay of $10 an hour. They discussed it a lot – the money was good, but they both knew it would interfere with GED. Catherine decided to stick with it, get back to class, and not take the overtime. She really wanted to get her GED and move on permanently. Monica, on the other hand, took the overtime pay. She reasoned that since she’d failed the first time, she should make the job her priority. She told Catherine she really needed the money and that she could do overtime and GED. However, even though she made extra money, Monica ended up struggling to remain in the GED program.

6B: With a partner, take 2 minutes to discuss: Who do you believe made the best decision in this situation: Catherine or Monica? Why? 6C: Let’s continue to explore what happens with Catherine and Monica. Would a volunteer please read?


Unit 8: Discovering How the World Works

C AT HE RIN E AN D M ONIC A ’S DIL EM M A, C ON TINU E D Catherine struggled so much with money that month – getting her GED was taking up a lot of time and she missed out on those extra overtime hours. It was much harder, because she wasn’t making that extra income and the bills were flowing in. But, she knew that work was temporary. She’s been there before. This time, she’s ready to earn a permanent $10 an hour without special circumstances. Monica, on the other hand, was much better off this month because she chose the overtime pay. She got a pair of Nikes for her son, and some new kitchen appliances. But, she couldn’t stay in the GED program. She dropped out – it was too much work to handle all of it. At the end of the year, Catherine, who sacrificed her overtime pay, earned her GED. She endured some months of struggle, but now that she has her GED, she’s on the hunt for a full time job. She feels encouraged. Monica, unfortunately, is right back to the same old struggle. Not only did the overtime hours run out, but she’s down to 10 hours a week. Monica feels caught in a cycle.

" In your experience, what usually happens to a person like Monica who doesn’t qualify for a full time job? " Call to mind the cycle shown in your notes. How does your experience resonate with this cycle?






Because employers typically require at least a GED or High School Diploma for full time positions, those without this qualification will probably never break this cycle.


Work Life Facilitator Guide



7A: Let’s examine Catherine’s long, hard road to success in her career. Her story is based off various Work Life graduates who have made the transition to full time work. Would a volunteer please read?

C AT HE RIN E ST AR TS A CA R EER Catherine was hired as a temporary line worker at a factory earning $7.75. After just 3 weeks, her manager was so impressed with her work, she offered her a temporary lead position. Catherine was excited, but there was one catch: she had to commit to 40 hours a week and the hours conflicted with her GED schedule. She could have really used the money, but she was determined to complete her GED this time. She turned down the position, explaining to her manager that she was honored and really would like to take it but that at this time she needed to focus on her studies so as to add the most value to the workplace in the future. After this, she averaged about 25 hours a week. Things were tight financially, and she sometimes wondered if she made the right decision. The next four months were especially tough for Catherine. She always left work exhausted. Most evenings, all she wanted was to go home and go to bed - after all, this is what all her co-workers did. But because of the promise she made, she forced herself to wake up and go to GED class - no matter how she felt. Sometimes, she was so tired she wondered if she was even going to make any progress. After three months, she took the big test. She was nervous and excited. A week later, she found out that she had failed the math section. She was so upset that she didn’t come back to class for a week. But Catherine knew she couldn’t let her emotions get the best of her, so she continued to struggle on as a part-time manual laborer and a part-time night student. Three weeks later, she took the test again. This time she passed. Catherine felt so proud of herself! This excitement wore off quickly as she got back to work and the lines had shut down for 4 days. 4 days! That was about a whole paycheck she was going to miss. At that moment, it all made sense. It was time. She was going to have to earn a permanent position.

" What should Catherine do to try to find a permanent job?

The next day, Catherine scheduled an appointment with the supervisor at the temporary service. She asked them how they perceived her and how she could improve as an employee. They had a few criticisms, but Catherine took them as motivation to do things better rather than get discouraged. It must have worked. Within one month, she was promoted to a line leader within the temp service. This meant she was now earning $8.75 and working more hours than before. About a month later, she noticed a job posting on the bulletin board: Now Hiring: Full Time Line Workers. Must have experience and a H.S. Diploma or G.E.D. Catherine applied, interviewed, and got the job. She was now making $9.35 and was offered overtime pay. After a 90-day probation period, her pay increased again to $9.75 and now she earns benefits, too, such as paid time off, insurance, and matched retirement fund.

7B: After committing to work hard, earn her GED, and pursue employment, let’s examine Catherine’s timeline written on the chart:


Unit 8: Discovering How the World Works

CATHERINE’S WORK TIMELINE Temp line worker (5 months) $7.75

Temp lead (2 months) $8.75

Probation FT line worker (90 days) $9.35

FT Line worker $9.75 with benefits

7C: Although she remains in the low-skilled category, Catherine is now making $9.75 an hour with benefits. Discuss: What did she have to do in order to go from $7.75 to $9.75? [She had to work better than all the temps and she had to qualify by having a GED or HS diploma.] 7D: Call out some specific ways that Catherine’s success included both developing her character and her skills. Like Catherine, many graduates who are working don’t have their GED or HS Diplomas when they start working. Many are simultaneously working as a staffing employee, while taking GED classes a couple times a week. Others are finding ways to get on the job training to increase their skills while working. And all of them committed to distinguish themselves by working harder than the rest, respecting others, being a team player, and looking their best. 7E: Let’s continue to follow Catherine’s story. As a volunteer reads, note what steps she is considering for the future.

C AT HE RIN E’S L IF E A FTER A Y EA R One year later, Catherine begins working on her taxes. Her full time work at the factory at $9.75 has earned her $20,280 for the year! Her friend Monica, however, is still making what the average temporary employee at minimum wage makes at 28 hours per week - $10,556 a year. While Catherine is doing much better, they are both still in low-skilled positions. Even if Catherine and Monica receive pay increases over the years, according to the pyramid, the absolute most either could ever make is $12 an hour. Catherine talked to her friend Darius, the line lead who works at the factory. He used to be a line worker like Catherine. Darius told her that he increased his education level to move into a skilled position. In the factory, the skilled jobs available were forklift driver, machine operator, or electrician.

Darius drew out his path for Catherine. Look at what he drew on the flipchart.


Work Life Facilitator Guide


Temp line worker ($7.75)

Temp lead ($8.75)

90 Day Probation FT line worker ($9.35)

FT Line worker ($9.75 with benefits)

Forklift operator ($12)

Machine operator ($15.75-$18)

Line lead ($20+)

" What’s the difference between full time employees like Catherine whose pay stopped at $9.75 and those like Darius whose pay continued to increase? [Those whose pay continued to climb had to move from lowskilled jobs to skilled jobs.] Exactly. There’s really no way around it. If someone wants to earn more money, they’ve got to move into the skilled category. They have to receive some kind of training. Sometimes, this training can be done within the company (for example, the company will train you to operate a piece of equipment), but most of the time, people will go get the skill at a local college, and then get a job in that field. Earlier, we noted what happens to someone’s pay when they make the jump from a low-skilled temporary employee to a low-skilled full time employee. They received a $2 raise, were guaranteed 40 hours a week, and received benefits. Now, we see that skilled employees’ pay can continue to climb, this time from $9.75 to $12 to $15.75 to $18 to $20+.



What if I told you that you had a choice to take this class once and get a job making $7.25 an hour or you could double the length of this class (from 6 weeks to 12 weeks) and make $15 an hour, more than double the amount of money? Raise your hand if you would take the class once. Raise two hands if you would take it twice as long. Well, to qualify for a lot of the skilled jobs, you only take 1 semester of training - which is about 3 months. And a lot of those jobs double the amount of earning potential. 8A: At your table, take 3 minutes to generate a list of reasons people choose not to increase their skills/education or roadblocks they face in increasing their skills/education. Write each answer down on a different sticky note. Then, post them on the chart entitled: Roadblocks to Increasing Skills/Education. We’ll organize your ideas according to similarity and discuss each one. Notice that some of these roadblocks are situational, some are habitual, and some are emotional.


Unit 8: Discovering How the World Works

[This is a great opportunity to educate folks about the higher education system and introduce the idea of receiving further education. When possible, allow the other participants to combat the reasons by using redirection such as “Thanks for that idea. What do the rest of you think?”] 8B: Think about your own situation. Take 5 minutes to think on your own: what would you have to do in your life to make room for working and taking classes at the same time? Each person should write down their top 3 challenges in the box in your notes.

M Y T OP 3 CH A LL ENGE S I want to make room for working and taking classes, but these things get in the way: 1. 2. 3.

8C: Consider ways you might overcome these challenges. While some are certainly out of our control, think: What steps do you need to take? What situations do you need to face? Who do you need to ask for help? 8D: Sometimes, the idea of providing for our families and adding value with our gifts and talents seems almost impossible. We’ve experienced deep brokenness in our relationship with the world and with work. And yet God offers us hope to move towards re-creation! Remember, God’s promise of re-creation is that our work is not in vain. By adding skills, we can move toward making that a reality today. Let’s close in prayer and ask God to help us in overcoming these challenges. Anyone who would like to pray for our challenges aloud is welcome, and then, I will close. For our next meeting, we’re going to dig deeper into how we can build on our existing gifts and talents to take these crucial steps. To prepare, please fill out the Gifts of the Head, Hand, and Heart inventory in your notes for our next meeting!


Work Life Facilitator Guide

GIFTS OF THE HEAD, HAND, AND HEART9 Everyone has gifts that God has given them to use. Gifts are talents, abilities, skills, and passions that God has given you to give to others at work, in your family, and in your community. A big part of living a good life and honoring God is finding ways to use your gifts. So let’s talk about different kinds of gifts. 1. Gifts of the Hands. These are skills you have learned that you could teach someone (carpentry, cooking, sewing, painting, fixing cars, etc.) List at least 3 gifts of the hands that you have below: a. b. c.

2. Gifts of the Head. These are things you know about - could be a school subject, life lessons, specific knowledge about something (Bible, gardening, math, writing). List at least 3 gifts of the head that you have below: a. b. c.

3. Gifts of the Heart. These are things you care deeply about, issues that you’re passionate about, or causes that you’d be willing to work for (your community, kids, elderly people, music, sports, justice). List at least 3 gifts of the heart that you have below: a. b. c.


Derived from Discovering Community Power by the ABCD Institute, 2010.


Unit 8: Discovering How the World Works

Pages 142 - 157 are not included in this preview 141


ADAPTING TO PROFESSIONAL CULTURE OBJECTIVES By the end of this lesson, we will have: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Defined culture and identified differences in cultural behaviors and thinking; Named reasons why one might consider adapting to other cultures; Defined and practiced professional culture through role-plays; Summarized role-plays by defining code-switching and described the professional goal of code-switching; Assessed our understanding of important aspects of professional culture; Created a list of important practices in professional culture; and Committed to practice code-switching and important facets of professional culture during this course.


Participant Guides

Flipchart paper/Markers

Small markers for each table

Pink and green slips

Card sets for each table (5A)


Create flipcharts: What is Culture?, Cultural Distinctions, Perception is Reality, Code-Switching, closing commitment

Create nametags: Banker, Customer, Grandma, Uncle, Aunt

Bring small prize for winning actors (3D)

Prepare foreign language phrase (4A)

TIME 120 Minutes


Work Life Facilitator Guide



1A: Today, we’re going to discuss the idea of culture. Examine this one-sentence definition of culture on the flipchart. What might you add?

Culture: a set of behaviors and/or values that is common between a group of people.

1B: Listen to an example of cultural difference in Martin and Alex’s experiences. They became good friends last year, but they are from different neighborhoods, races, and income levels. Note some cultural differences they learned by experience when becoming friends. Feel free to laugh aloud or share your reactions after I read each one. [Adapt these to your local context, using realistic examples you have encountered in working with your target group. If they are humorous in a non-offensive way, so much the better!]

M AR TIN AN D A LEX: C UL TURA L DIF FERE NC ES Language Use: In Martin’s culture, if someone says “a minute” they mean approximately 60 seconds. In Alex’s neighborhood, a minute means a long time. For example, “I haven’t seen him in a minute” could mean several weeks; or “I’ll be there in a minute” could mean “I’ll be there sometime later, but not right now. At first, this caused numerous misunderstandings and offenses, especially when Martin waited for long amounts of time and felt like Alex was blowing him off or didn’t respect his time. Rules for Dress: In Martin’s culture, if someone says to “dress casual” it means you can wear shorts, t-shirt, and sandals. In Alex’s culture, casual usually means slacks and a button down. This caused embarrassment and feeling out of place when Martin showed up and was the only one wearing shorts and flip-flops! Phone Communication: In Martin’s culture, if someone hangs up without saying “bye” then they likely assume the other person is angry or being impatient with them. In Alex’s culture, saying bye on the phone means that you might never speak to them again. Martin learned not to get offended – at first, he thought Alex was getting an attitude with him! Social Behavior: In Martin’s culture, hosting a BBQ is an excuse for people to hang out together. Guests often contribute something like a side or drinks and will be there for a couple hours. In Alex’s culture, a BBQ is an excuse to be generous with others. Residents like cooking a very large amount of food in order to give it away to their neighbors. Guests don’t contribute at all and usually don’t stay long. Rather they come for a few minutes and make a to-go plate. When Martin threw a BBQ, he was hurt when Alex and his friends showed up, came to get plates of food, and left!

1C: Call to mind a humorous story where you or someone you know totally misunderstood somebody because they were from a different culture, or someone totally misunderstood you because they were from a different culture. Form groups of 3 and tell a few stories.


Unit 10: Adapting to Professional Culture

After 3 minutes, we’ll hear several stories that are particularly funny or interesting. 1D: Now that we’ve defined culture, let’s discuss different ways cultural groups can be divided. Let’s brainstorm as many examples of different cultural groups as you can. For example, one distinction could be between age groups—elderly and teenage people. Another example could be racial categories (black, white, Hispanic, etc). Come and list your examples on the flipchart entitled: Cultural Distinctions. [Examples could include religion, denomination, region, race, neighborhood, income level, hobbies.] 1E: Listen as I assign each table group one of these categories: age, geographic region, income level, religious beliefs, race. At your table, identify at least 2 different groups inside your category. For example, age: elderly and teenager. Nominate a scribe at your table to write down as many differences that you can identify between the groups as possible. Please be detailed but respectful. After several minutes, we’ll hear from each group. [Have fun with the large group discussion. If the instructor represents the minority culture in the room this is a good opportunity to allow the class to do most of the educating. Consider inviting participants to give you a homework assignment based on helping the instructor learn and/or experience some aspect of the neighborhood culture.] We have just identified differences between these various cultural groups. We are going to call these differences hidden rules. While these rules are obvious to everyone inside the culture, oftentimes they have to be learned by outsiders. 1F: How might the differences we discussed have the potential to cause misunderstanding, frustration or confusion between the groups if they remain hidden? What would happen when an outsider comes into a new culture, not knowing some of the hidden rules? Share examples using the cultural groups we’ve just discussed.



Hidden rules can create misunderstandings or conflicts between the outsider and the culture they come into. 2A: Consider: what are reasons we might learn to adapt to other cultures when we are entering them? Discuss this with your neighbor for 2 minutes. Then we’ll hear from a few of you. [One dominant way of thinking in the culture you are working with might be that it is ‘fake’ to adapt to other cultures. This is why the lesson takes a long time to work through this principle. If you are having trouble establishing this principle, help participants see that they already adapt when they walk in church, or into their grandmother’s house. i.e. “Can’t sag in grandma’s place.”] Thanks for this discussion. At least some of the time, we should consider adapting to another person’s culture. 2B: Let’s examine this principle in I Corinthians about a man named Paul. Paul was a missionary, which meant his job was to go into new cultures that had never heard about God’s plan for humans and the world. Paul taught them about Jesus and how to live in the new ways of His Kingdom. As we listen to the passage,


Work Life Facilitator Guide

think about why Paul might have adapted to the local culture. Can a volunteer please read the paraphrase in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22?

Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. (The Message)

" After reading this, why might Paul have adapted to each of these different cultures? For example, why did he adapt to the religious people? Let’s hear your ideas. Paul adapted to other cultures to accomplish his mission of communicating the gospel of God’s saving reign over all things. The goal was to win their respect so that he could best accomplish his work. Also, note that Paul doesn’t say he has to do this. He chooses to do this because it will help him achieve his goal for God. This passage is ultimately about the way Christians should live and work among different cultures, but you don’t need to be a Christian to apply this principle to the way that you do your job. You just need to be smart. 2C: Share aloud: What might happen if Paul didn’t win peoples’ respect before trying to teach them? Thanks for sharing. While some of the stories we have shared may be humorous, cultural misunderstanding can often be very serious. The reason we are taking the time to talk about culture is that many people remain unemployed or underemployed because employers don’t take them seriously as professionals. 2D: Read the summary of a nation-wide survey in your notes called Are They Really Ready to Work? The survey was sent out to hundreds of employers in the US, asking them the question: what qualities do you look for most in making hiring or promotional decisions? Skim the list and call out the number 1 answer employers gave.








Oral Communication (speaking and listening skills)


Ethics & Social Responsibility (honest and trustworthy)


Reading Comprehension

Derived from Key Findings: Are They Really Ready to Work?


Unit 10: Adapting to Professional Culture

Professionalism is a kind of culture that is common between most managers, but may not be shared with lowerlevel employees. This culture has its own rules and ways of thinking. Most of the time, cultural differences aren’t about what’s right and wrong, but rather the cultural “hidden rules”. For instance, God probably doesn’t care that much about ties, but if you work at a bank, it’s part of the culture that you wear one! God does care about work, so if we work at a bank, we need to figure out how to adapt to these hidden rules. A lot of times, employees are stuck in an entry-level or temporary position because they have not adapted to professional culture. 2E: Listen to Devon’s story. Note his struggles and realizations in adapting to professional culture.

DEV ON CO NSIDE RS P RO FES SION AL C ULT URE Devon works in a manufacturing company as a forklift driver. He’s been there 3 years, and is a good worker who is generally respected by his colleagues. However, he has been unable to move up to a higher position. He has been repeatedly turned down for a promotion to an office manager. He has applied 3 times, but keeps getting rejected—even though he’s the only one in the company who is qualified for the position! His boss, Chase, told him it was because the managers didn't think he was “office material.” Devon took this as completely racist, and complained to his friend Tabitha. Tabitha, who is a manager at a clothing store in the mall, told him: “Well, that might play a role in it, but either way, look at it like this: as a forklift driver, it doesn’t matter how you talk or dress, but in an office, you would interact with different types of people in a professional culture. How you dress and talk matters a lot.” Devon thought about what she said for a few days. At first, he didn’t agree with Tabitha. But now, he is beginning to think she is right—he doesn’t dress and talk the part for an office job, so his employers probably can’t see him in that role. He knows he could change these things about himself. He’s always said: “Well, I'd dress like this and do like that if I were getting paid for that position. But since I'm working in the back, they don’t care how we dress and talk.” He is beginning to think that part of the problem is that his bosses can't picture him in any different role – which is why he struggles to get a promotion.

! " What do you think is the main point of this story and conversation about professional culture? 2F: If we had to summarize the main point, it might be: in order to succeed in my work (and thus to make more money!) we must win the respect of employers by adapting to professional culture. Often times we hear that to play by someone else’s rules is bougie or selling out. But the real question is: are you willing to adapt to employer’s expectations to achieve your dreams or not? Some of us are inevitably not ready, but consider this question: What If I told you I would give you $4,300 dollars and all you had to do in exchange is tuck in your shirt, smile and make eye contact when you talk to anyone at work for 1 year? Would you make those three changes? Share your responses in the large group.


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This is exactly what adapting to professional culture can help you do. In our estimation, the average difference in 1 year’s salary for a temp employee versus a full-time employee is $4,30011. The rewards are worth it, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy!



3A: Let’s further consider and practice what adapting to professional culture might look like. Can I get two volunteers to act out a little scenario: a banker, and an important customer? Now, one of you will play the banker and the other an important customer. Sit together in these chairs in the front. Pretend this is a high-dollar business setting. In this first scene, interact at the bank office, using your most professional culture acting skills. Discuss your most recent investments together in the bank and your future plans for the money. Also, mention your family, too, but using professional culture. Great depiction. Let’s applaud our actors! 3B: Now, for the second scene, pretend it’s 5:00 pm and the banker has to rush back to his grandma’s house for a family reunion. In this scene, I’ll need 3 family members. I need two aunts and/or uncles, and a grandmother. Now, in this second scene, the banker will talk to family members around the grill about a recent sports game or family news. But, the banker will stay in his/her bank culture, while the other participants remain in their informal family culture. Let’s observe the interaction. Now remember, it isn’t that people at grandma’s house are doing anything wrong—they’re just in their home culture rather than the professional bank culture. Let’s give them big round of applause! 3C: Debrief: How did Grandma and these other family members respond to their banker family member? [If necessary, draw out that he may be ostracized, be called bougie, fake, or “above his raisings.” Make sure the idea that he won’t thrive in his family if he acts this way comes out loud and clear.] Great observations and acting, everyone. We discussed practical examples of the consequences of not adapting to professional culture—and now we’ve seen that there are similar consequences of not adapting back into our informal family culture. I want to reward our actors for their participation. So I’m going to make them the judges for our next task.

Average low-income salary in the US (2013) x .25, 11


Unit 10: Adapting to Professional Culture

3D: All of the rest of you, work at your tables to create a brief 1 minute skit demonstrating a similar situation where one culture is appropriate for one setting, but that if you stay in that culture when you go into another, it could get you in trouble. Avoid having illegal or rude elements in your skit—the point of adapting to the work place culture isn’t changing from bad to good behavior, but just situations where what’s appropriate in one culture and inappropriate in another. For instance, you need to show respect to grandma and you need to show respect to your boss. But the way you communicate that respect is different based on the two different cultures. Focus your skit on how to communicate a message, like care or respect, in 2 different cultural settings. Take 5 minutes to prepare and then we’ll watch and applaud each group. The judges will award a small prize to the group that best depicts switching between different cultures.



Thank you all for making these concepts come alive. The whole concept of moving back and forth between cultures is called code-switching. Code-switching is a skill that you can develop to move back and forth between professional culture and informal family culture. The goal of code-switching is not to be fake, or reject “where we came from.” The goal is to make sure we are sending the messages we desire about ourselves to those around us. We’re trying to speak in the language that those around us understand. 4A: Listen to a practical example of what this feels like. [Facilitator to write or speak a few phrases of a foreign language to the class about work]. Call out words that describe how you might feel if I suddenly began communicating to you in this language for the rest of the class period. If we fail to code-switch, this is like speaking a foreign language to people who only speak English. 4B: As an example, let’s discuss arriving on time. " If your grandma invites you to a church service at 7, what time do you show up to communicate respect? " If your friend invites you to a barbeque at 7, what time do you show up to communicate respect? " If your employer asks you to be at work tomorrow at 7, what time do you show up to communicate respect? Communicating respect is different for different cultures. The important thing is for your respect to be communicated in a way that it will be clearly understood. 4C: Examine this quote written on the chart: Perception is Reality. Let’s discuss these questions, one at a time:


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" How might this apply to code-switching? " If we dress, speak, and behave like we are at our family reunion at our job, what might our boss’ perception of us become? Based on this, how will he treat us? " What “label” might our boss put on us if we: #

Sag our pants and never tuck our shirts in?


Use mild profanity in front of customers and other employees?


Show up late or cut out early regularly from work?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is possible that these labels are totally false—that somebody might sag their pants but be very honest and hard working, or that someone who uses mild profanity really respects others. But if that person doesn’t code-switch, the boss will get a negative perception even if the person has great character. Refusing to code-switch means that you will either fail in a professional setting or in a private setting. If you choose to be professional all of the time, your family and friends will feel that they cannot relate to you. If you choose to be casual all of the time, your boss and co-workers will not develop respect for you as a professional.!



5A: Let’s evaluate what we know about professional culture. I will pass out these A, B, C, D and True/False cards to each table. Together, we’ll take the quiz in your notes. After I ask each question, your table will have 15 seconds to agree and hold up the letter which best describes your collective response. After each question, we’ll briefly discuss the message that a person in professional culture might receive from the various actions. We’ll consider: what potential labels might a boss place on somebody if they see unprofessional behavior because of a failure to code-switch?



6A: Let’s summarize our discussion of this quiz. Take 5 minutes at your table and write out your top 5 tips on professional culture. Afterwards, each table will quickly present their ideas. I will also create my own list. [Walk around as the groups do this task. Then create your own list incorporating ideas from the list below NOT covered.]


Unit 10: Adapting to Professional Culture


Appearance: Simple is best. Clothing should not bring much attention to ourselves, including shoes, shirt, pants, jewelry, and tattoos.


Body language/Facial expressions: Always make eye contact and reserve your judgments.


Pace: Walk briskly, not hurried, but not too slow.


Friendliness: Go out of your way to greet each colleague and boss in the morning; make personal small talk when first encountering co-workers.


Communication: Speak professionally and directly to your boss when in conflict, after making a mistake, when late for work, or when personal issues interfere with work.


Conversation Topics: Money, sex, and religion are the most taboo. If you face sexual harassment, follow HR policies.


Speech: Speak at the right volume. Don’t use slang or curse words. Use clear, simple language employers may pretend to understand when they don’t.

6B: Let’s hear from each group, and then I will also present my own. We’ll write your ideas on the flipchart entitled: Code-switching. 6C: At your tables, brainstorm and name situations where or when you think it is important to code-switch into professional culture. After 2 minutes, we’ll share our responses in the large group. This is a great list. Maybe we could summarize it this way: we should switch into professional culture anytime we are in a place or around people who could help us get a job, or help us get a better job than the one we have. This includes all professional settings, whether at work or at school.



We have been talking about why it is crucial to code-switch into professional culture. If it’s important to practice code-switching in any setting where there are people who can help us get a job or get a better job, then we should start now! This Work Life course is one of those places. From now on, let’s practice code-switching when we come onto the property. Remember that it’s not just what you know, but also who you know. This is one of the best places to build a professional network because people from lots of different businesses come here to visit and volunteer. If they have the perception that we are unprofessional, then they will probably not be willing to help us get jobs. It’s easy to say that we have to adapt to professional culture, but it’s a whole other thing to actually make the switch and do it!


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7A: Together, let’s practice code-switching when we’re here, even outside of this class! Let’s challenge ourselves to adapt to the rules of professional culture here – in all of these areas that we’ve noted on the flipchart entitled: Code-switching. Together, let’s sign the flipchart, committing to adapt to professional culture and code-switch while on the property of our church/organization. If you are serious about taking practical steps toward building new skills and a career, this is a good place to begin.

Together, we commit to put our ideas into action. We will adapt to professional culture by code-switching while attending the Work Life course.

To help us do this, from now on we’re going to be recognizing professionalism and unprofessionalism in this class. If the facilitators or even one of you observes professionalism from somebody, let’s hand them one of these green slips as a recognition that this is the sort of message that will lead to a promotion and more money. On the other hand, if I observe unprofessionalism, I will pass out pink slips - a recognition that this is the sort of message that might get you fired! Only the facilitator can give out pink slips. We’ll try to keep this fun, but as part of a commitment to make changes for our careers, let’s work hard to apply these ideas through the rest of class. 7B: Let’s close together in prayer asking for God’s wisdom in developing our professional skills.


Unit 10: Adapting to Professional Culture










Clothing a. I can wear my clothes however I want as long as I am wearing my uniform. b. My clothing has nothing to do with how I work. c. I should dress like all my co-workers to fit in. d. I should dress like my boss to stand out. Jewelry a. I can wear whatever I want. b. My jewelry should just match the color of my clothes. c. My jewelry should be small so that it does not attract attention. d. My jewelry should attract attention. If the bus is running late I should: a. Sprint the whole way to work. b. Call my manager the moment I know I’m going to be late. c. I should just miss work because I’m going to get a point for being late anyway. d. Catch the next bus and assume that everyone will know what happened. I can look professional in a shirt that says, “Your boyfriend wants me.” a. True b. False If my boss doesn’t answer the phone I should: a. Expect him to call me back because he has my number on caller ID. b. Keep calling every 30 seconds until he answers his phone. c. Leave a voicemail with my name, number and the reason I called. d. Do nothing because I tried calling. Spitting in the parking lot could keep me from getting hired or getting promoted. a. True b. False If I have an appointment (doctor, court, etc.) and need to miss work I should: a. Request an excused absence as soon as I know date and time of the appointment. b. Call in a few hours before the appointment. c. Bring in paperwork to my boss after the appointment to show them why I missed work. d. Talk with my boss about the appointment as soon as it’s scheduled and ask if there’s another shift I can work to make up those hours, instead of using my excused absence. If my boss hits on me I should: a. Go along with it because it may be able to get me promoted. b. Put him in his place unless I like him. c. Only mess with him away from work. d. Report the conversation to Human Resources. If my personal life is brought up on the job I should: a. Confront the person about it and ask him not to talk about it at work. b. Make my supervisor aware of what’s going on. c. Ignore it. d. Bring up his personal business to teach him a lesson.


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10. My voicemail message could keep me from getting hired. a. True b. False 11. Facebook a. It’s OK to talk about my co-workers on Facebook as long as it’s not on the job. b. Only God can judge me so I can put whatever I want on Facebook. c. I should consider that Facebook will likely open up my personal life to my co-workers and/or boss; therefore, I should control what I put on it. d. Facebook has nothing to do with my career so I shouldn’t even think about it. 12. Appearance (sagging) a. Sagging is just a style so I can do it wherever I want, even on the job. b. Sagging is morally wrong and it’s never okay. c. Sagging is not a good idea in a school or work setting because it may cause people not to take me seriously. d. The way I wear my pants is irrelevant to my job. 13. Networking a. When I am meeting a professional I should introduce myself by my nickname. b. When I am meeting a professional I should introduce myself by my real name. 14. Friendliness a. I should not speak to anyone on the job because I’m here to work, not make friends. b. I should acknowledge everyone I see. c. Only acknowledge the people I know. d. Only acknowledge my boss. 15. Employers make hiring decisions based on how quickly or slowly people walk. a. True b. False 16. If my paycheck is shorter than its supposed to be I should: a. Demand the rest of the money immediately because I have been mistreated. b. Assume there’s been a mistake and make an appointment to talk to my employer. c. Tell everyone I know that the employer is trying to get one over on his employees. d. Ignore the issue and hope it doesn’t happen again. 17. I can look professional in a shirt with a marijuana leaf on it. a. True b. False 18. It is important to pick the best clothes that I normally go to the club in for interviews or at my job, because appearance is an important part of being on the job. a. True b. False 19. Throwing my cigarette butt on the parking lot could keep me from getting hired or promoted. a. True b. False 20. Certain kinds of music on my call back tone could keep me from getting hired. a. True b. False


Unit 10: Adapting to Professional Culture

21. Facial expressions: a. Don’t matter as long as I get my work done. b. Should be used to show people what’s on my mind. c. Should be used to show people that I am positive and have a good attitude. d. None of the above 22. In an interview women should: a. Look as attractive as possible. b. Look as neatly as possible and dress according to the job they are applying for. c. Long eyelashes, fingernails, 6 inch heels are a bonus. d. Long eyelashes, fingernails, 6 inch heels are a negative. e. A and C f. B and D g. None of the above 23. Which of the following options is the best option for someone applying for an entry-level position in a warehouse? a. A three piece suit b. A shirt with a collar un-tucked with khakis or jeans c. A shirt with a collar tucked in to khakis or jeans d. Whatever makes them feel the most comfortable 24. I should a. Tuck in my shirt only if I’m required to. b. Tuck in my shirt if my boss tucks in their shirt. c. It doesn’t matter the way I wear my shirt. d. Wear my shirt the way most of my co-workers wear their shirts. 25. The way I talk to or about the opposite sex could keep me from getting hired or promoted. a. True b. False 26. It doesn’t matter what my co-workers think of me at all as long as I get my work done. a. True b. False 27. If my boss doesn’t understand me when I speak: a. We’re just different and it doesn’t matter. b. I should adjust the way I talk to make sure they understand me. c. It could be the difference between me staying in the entry-level position or getting promoted to another position. d. B and C 28. My boss has no right discipline me for what happens off the clock or outside of the building. a. True b. False

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SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY ABCD Institute, Discovering Community Power: A Guide to Mobilizing Local Assets and your Organization’s Capacity, 2010. Corbett and Fikkert, When Helping Hurts, 2009. Floyd, Scott: Crisis Counseling: A Guide for Pastors and Professionals, 2008. Freedom from Hunger, Savings: You Can Do It!, 2008. Global Learning Partners, 4 Steps for Learning that Lasts, 2012. Grabell, The Expendables: How Temps Who Power Corporate Giants Get Crushed, 2013. Jobs for Life, Instructor Guide, 2008. Lisitsa, Ellie: Gottman Relationship Blog, 2012. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Poverty Guidelines, 2014. McDonnell, Sharon; You’re Hired!, 1999. Schilling, Diane: 10 Steps to Effective Listening, 2012. Williams Company, Crafting a Resume, 2013. Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice, 10 Ways to Live Restoratively, 2009.


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