The corporate ladder is broken and employees are failing to adapt to its broken rungs, says human resources and talent management expert Maryanne Spatola. Whereas employees could once expect to quickly ascend corporate ranks, it is now more common for individuals to float between three to five professions at a time.
After spending more than 20 years teaching and speaking about talent management and professional development, Spatola sat down earlier this year to write “Careers in the New World of Work.” Spatola’s first book analyzes the broken corporate ladder and offers management and career advice for an evolving job market.
“I wrote this book for two main groups,” Spatola says. “The first group was individuals who are trying to figure out career options in a world that has changed dramatically and also for employers, who need to stay ahead of a tightening labor market.”
Spatola, an adjunct faculty member at New York University, will discuss “Careers in the New World of Work” at the Princeton HRMA on Monday, December 10, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Salt Creek Grille in Forrestal Village.
Spatola’s advice and work is based on her unique “three C’s” model: building capabilities, increasing capacity, and expanding community. Spatola’s work and research is oriented around emphasizing the three “C’s” in a workplace setting.
“As a job-seeker in a tightening labor market, you have be comfortable pushing the edges with your work,” Spatola says. “You also have to have the bandwidth to do many different things and figure out what your most valuable use of time is.”
Expanding community is especially important because there is a corporate misconception that colleagues are your only community members at work, Spatola says. Through her work, Spatola encourages business leaders to incorporate individuals from various professions and backgrounds into their ventures.
In her classes Spatola stresses preparation for the unexpected. Putting the “three C’s” together is essential for building a portfolio of career options. “You may need to prepare yourself for options or something that may happen to you,” Spatola said. “The bottom line is: you need to be ready.”
A recent World Economic Forum report lists “changing work environments and flexible work arrangements” as the largest drivers of change in the global jobs market. This driver has already created a market where “organizations are likely to have an ever-smaller pool of core full-time employees for fixed functions, backed up by colleagues in other countries and external consultants and contractors for specific projects.”
Among the skills referenced in the WEF report as the “most desired by employers in 2020” and addressed by Spatola are increased cognitive ability, people management, critical thinking, and negotiation skills.
Spatola wrote “Careers in the New World” while trying to update the concept of “networking” and job-seeking to fit companies’ changing talent pools and shifting strategic capabilities.
The tested public speaker and personal coach has received a range of feedback regarding her advice about the new marketplace. Spatola’s audience, job-seekers and employers, comprises equally those who acknowledge the rapidly evolving economy and those who are skeptical of the claims that the workplace is bound for a radical evolution.
“At times there is a little bit of denial from those thinking that this is a bunch of hype,” Spatola said. “Other times, the people who I interact with see the changes happening, try to make some headway, but are unfortunately not making any progress with the changes.” Spatola also interacts with employers and employees who are overwhelmed by the change already occurring. In these situations, Spatola does her best to offer her own personal experiences with the uncertain economy.
“Careers find me and people have always gravitated toward me for coaching because they’ve seen my strategies for success,” Spatola said. “I’ve never been in a place where I didn’t have [career] options to choose from and that’s the experience I can draw on when I give the best advice to someone.”
Spatola was raised and still lives in Maplewood, now with her spouse of 34 years. She has three sons and one granddaughter. She received a bachelor’s degree in social science from Thomas Edison State University and a master’s degree in human resources from New York University.
The former corporate executive credits her perseverance to her parents, blue-collar workers who worked in various factories during Spatola’s childhood. In fact, when Spatola briefly dropped out of her undergraduate education, the thought of her parents inspired her to continue.
Spatola’s resume illustrates the varied nature of careers nowadays. From 1982 to 2004 she was an executive development consultant at Chubb corporation. After that, she ran her own consulting practice for a year before joining Crum & Forster, an insurance company, as training director. Today she is an adjunct faculty member at NYU and chief human resources officer at Solix, an enterprise data management company.
She has also kept up to date with professional coaching standards through her certification as a Professional Certified Coach. She also updates her standards through her teaching at NYU and Rutgers, which focuses on the future of human resources innovation and aligning talent management to strategy.
“This is an important topic because it’s for individuals navigating a drastically new world of work,” Spatola said. “I have done a lot of transition work and I understand how important it is to build relationships with your employees and to manage talent in an effective way.”
Spatola says her work has given her a mission: “This is ultimately an opportunity to get out front and help.”