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Generation Flux (2) – Coaching into Change

In the first part of this blog posted on March 23 I discussed the so called Generation Flux (see the April Issue of Fast Company ).The fluxers are not members of a particular age cohort such as Gen X or Y, members of this group can be found in any age bracket. What characterizes fluxers is their movement from job to job or even from career to career every few years as they seek new challenges. Gen fluxers thrive on learning new skills and applying them in unconventional ways to solve problems. They wreak havoc on HR Departments that try to fit them into more traditional succession planning and critical staffing models, so much so that some organizations have begun to hire larger numbers of staff than needed in anticipation of job changes and career shifts every few years.

Some of the comments on my first blog drew attention to personal experience either with or as part of Gen Flux. These comments underscored that Gen Fluxers resemble the so called Renaissance man or woman, someone who takes a broad view of learning and applies a wide range of knowledge to the problems they encounter. Other comments focused on the problem of learning, i.e., how can someone develop deep skills within an organization if they change jobs and/or careers every few years. These observations seem to be contradictory but can be seen as complementary if we consider that a wide range of knowledge is useful in generating out of the box thinking but often it requires deeper skills to implement innovative solutions within an organization.

A problem for Gen Fluxers usually arises when their desire for challenge and change begins to impede their performance by flooding them with several career choices so that indecision reigns. The motivation that drove them to their current challenge begins to wane as they contemplate the future. What do I do next can be paralyzing when you realize that your next move may be your last if you are to have any chance of building those deep skills that distinguish a so so from a successful career. This becomes an economic choice, not necessarily concerning money but broadly how do I allocate a scarce resource – myself – over all the possible choices I have before me. This is not an easy decision when you have spent most of your professional life gaining new and varied skills and now you are confronted with the need to consolidate all that energy and enthusiasm into one job or career.

In these situations I like to begin by helping the client identify their values, i.e., who they are not who they think they should be or who they would like to be. Values are what are important to us, it is how we show up in our life everyday. Although values are usually stated as nouns, they are really the motivators of our actions. (see Co-Active Coaching by Whitworth, Kinsey-House and Sandahl for an extensive discussion of values) When those values are identified the next step is to help the client see how these values have played out in the various jobs and/or careers they have pursued in their professional life. When this step is successful the client usually sees that one or two of their many jobs/careers have fulfilled all or most of their values. When personal values are aligned with career choices the client has a powerful tool to use in moving forward in their professional life.

Finally, a word of caution. Often the heart wants what the head deems unlikely or improbable. But that is a story for another blog.

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