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Career Changes: Becoming Your Own Career Manager

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A recent Fortune magazine article quoted a major outplacement firm executive as saying that just 6% of job cuts have anything to do with individual performance. Think about it—only 6%. Couple that with the structural upheaval ongoing across industry boundaries resulting from the Information Age, and we can all be almost certain that some degree of imposed change in our work situation is either in process of happening now or is on the horizon about to happen!

This is not always an abrupt elimination of a department or 20% cut in staffing. Change can occur in far more subtle ways. Friendly, social work cultures can become stiff and antiseptic under the announced goal of “being more professional”. Survivors of a reorganization or down- sizing can find themselves with a significantly increased personal work load. Economic crisis and budget cutbacks can further impact relationships already strained by workplace issues.

These workplace situations may not be new, but they are happening more frequently and with less warning today than at any time in the 15 years I’ve been doing career coaching consulting.

Time was when we had an “entrepreneurial track” and a “re-employment track” for a client to choose between for transition service—–today we acknowledge career stories and individually craft a pro-active implementation plan to achieve a client-defined work life vision——and it is rare when this plan doesn’t have significant “entrepreneurial behaviors” even to find new jobs.

The reality that each of us must become a career manager (for ourselves) is very disconcerting to some of us. We were taught to respect authority, get a good education, find a good job with a successful organization, and do the best we could at that job. If enough of us did that, the organization would succeed and prosper, and so would we through promotions and pay raises.

Further, there was a loyalty to that organization that also evolved. Even though we have ample evidence of the death of that implied social contract in the 80’s and 90’s, it is still very difficult for many folks to give themselves permission to become their own career manager and take control (and responsibility) for their own work life. Probably 90% of all the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with have acknowledged they remained too long in their work situation that they knew was negative and dysfunctional.

[edit] Conclusion

So that’s the first “takeaway”; recognize that you’ve got to have the courage to be a career manager even if it’s uncomfortable!

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[edit] Author

The Author of this article is Frank Cohee.

Frank Cohee is an accomplished coach and facilitator of individual client discovery. His highly-interactive process nurtures clients to connect their strategic goals with the realities of market needs. Focused and realistic implementation plans result. During the past 20 years Frank has assisted over 700 managers and executives as they have evolved their vocational careers.

As a particular area of coaching interest, Frank has designed and presented innovative entrepreneurial seminars over 60 times to in-excess of 600 attendees. He’s followed up with many of these clients to assist with marketing and fiscal strategic plans for their new business activities.

Prior to founding his consulting company in 1990, Process Improvement Associates, he spent 25 years in senior leadership roles with Northwest companies. These included seven years as President and COO of an innovative manufacturing company. These prior life activities provide a solid foundation of experience to integrate into his client career coaching work.

Frank holds a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Harvard University with distinction.

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