Magazine article Workforce Management

The 2020 Workplace

Magazine article Workforce Management

The 2020 Workplace

Article excerpt


The 2020 Workplace: How Innovatile Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow's Employees Today, by Jeanne C . Meister and Karie Willyerd, has just been released by HarperCollins. The book paints a picture of a future that employs workplace tools that many of us have never heard of, let alone used, such as "microfeedback,'' which asks for instant feedback responses in Twitter-like 144-character segments.

The authors also discuss new twists on older tools, such as "reverse mentoring," in which experienced executives learn from younger employees or those from very different backgrounds. Public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, for example, recently reverse-mentored 19 executives on is U.S. leadership team, pairing them with younger or ethnically diverse employees. The assignments were made based on the greatest opportunity to understand another perspective.

The authors have firsthand experience with workplace innovation. Meister is the author of Corporate Quality Universities and Corporate Universities, and her original research has been profiled in numerous business publications. Willyerd is the former vice president and chief learning officer for Sun Microsystems and served as chid talent officer at Solectron. The authors have co-founded a consulting firm. Future Workplace, and they blog for Harvard Business Review. Meisters blog, The New Learning Playbook, is featured on Worklorce Management's website.

WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT. Why is human resource development important to you? Why have you made it your life's work?

JEANNE C. MEISTER: In my previous life, I worked in new product development, so I guess my life's work has really been about innovation. I think there is nothing more important than how companies invest in their people; it's the only true source of competitive advantage.

KARIE WILLYERD: Por me, work has a mission: to help people to earn a living and support their families. Employees shouldn't be disposable, and I know that learning can help make them less so.

WM: Why did you decide to write this book?

MEISTER: Karie and I had worked together when I was at Accentine and she was at Solectron. A few years ago, while having dinner, we discovered a mutual interest in innovation and the ways social media was changing the world of business. We decided to collaborate on a book, and wanted to cover more than just learning. The field of corporate learning and development is ripe for innovation, so we took a broad talent management approach to the book.

WILLYERD: There weren't a lot of people playing in this space, and we felt that the marketplace was really calling for a book of this type.

WM: What were your goals in writing the book?

WILLYERD: To issue a wake-up call to learning and human resources [professionals] that they must take a leadership position on the shifts occurring in the workplace, or they will become inelevant.

MEISTER: There is a lot of energy and movement in the workforce. We wanted to share with readers how globalization, social media and the mix of five generations of workers are affecting businesses of every size and type. Employees will work on global teams with people they will never meet which drives the need for companies to be uber-connected. Further, as more employees use social media tools in their personal lives, companies need to figure out how to harness those tools and leverage them within the enterprise.

WM: How did you make use of social media tools in writing this book?

MEISTER: We talked via Skype all the time. We created a collaboration space on Basecamp that allowed us to track our many, many iterations of the book. We used social media tools to conduct an online poll of 2,200 professionals about what they want from their next employer, and we used Twitter to connect with potential sources and find new people to interview. …

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