Barbara Mistick HR/OD Council

Prepare yourself now for the future of work

'To be ready for tomorrow, we need to stretch today,' says author Barbara Mistick.

April 25, 2017

With talk of robots taking over jobs in the not-so-distant future, people find themselves wondering how to ensure they don’t become obsolete.

The answer is simple: Stretch your skills, knowledge, and approach to work.

“To be ready for tomorrow, we need to stretch today,” says Barbara Mistick, who delivered a keynote address at the CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council Conference. “If people stretch today, it gives them a much better chance for the future.”

Mistick explores the future of work her new book, “Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace,” which she co-authored with Karie Willyerd.

The book examines steps people can take to prepare for the new world of work, where technology will play a vital role. Mistick encourages employees—and credit union leaders—to consider five transitional behaviors:

  1. Learn on the fly. Maximize your opportunities to learn outside of a formal classroom setting. As an organization, make sure you clearly define which capabilities you expect of your employees. Also, act as a curator of learning options. When faced with too many choices, a person will shut down and be unable to make a decision on the best learning experience. Make employees’ decisions easier by narrowing the choices.
  2. Be open. Recognize opportunities and seek new options in your daily work. Employees crave feedback. Ensure managers provide meaningful guidance to their direct reports. Also, be open and transparent about how the credit union operates. This will increase employees’ trust and lead to more engagement.
  3. Build diverse networks. Optimize your network to find opportunities and stay up to date. Create a mentoring or affinity program that will allow employees to ask others within the organization for guidance, and provide online tools that will allow for social collaboration.
  4. Be greedy about experiences. To broaden your options for the future, be purposeful about your assignments and experiences. Be aggressive when it comes to opportunities for advancement. As an organization, reward the career makers—those who provide the guidance and leadership that allow other employees to develop. Consider creating “mid-life internships,” a program that allows older employees to explore different career paths within the credit union.
  5. Bounce forward. Recognize setbacks and failures as learning experiences and use them as a motivation to move forward. “We all have setbacks,” Mistick says. “What did you learn from them and do you use [that knowledge] to change your future?”

As an organization, connect your employees with a purpose. And foster innovation with a “failure wall,” where people who have failed can write down what didn’t work and share that information with others.

Take the opportunity to stretch, challenge yourself, and make career changes, Mistick says. Otherwise, you run the risk of being replaced by a robot.

“To be in control of your future, you have to have a sense that something will change,” Mistick says.

►Visit CUNA News for more conference coverage, and get live updates on Twitter via @CUNAJennifer@cumagazine@cunacouncils, and by using the #HRODcouncil hashtag. Learn more about the CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council, a member-led professional society for credit union executives, at cunacouncils.org.