No More Career Ladders

Report From the Futurist

Futurist

Roger Herman, 56, cofounder with his wife, Joyce, of the Herman Group, in Greensboro, North Carolina. The couple has written many books, including How to Choose Your Next Employer (Oakhill Press, 2000).

Scenario

"The linear career-path model, with workers climbing the corporate ladder rung by rung, is over. We're moving to a 'hopscotch' model. Workers will jump forward, backward, laterally -- or into a whole new path. Money and power are not the prime motivators that they once were. Job satisfaction, freedom, the chance to make a difference -- these are the new career drivers. Employees will make choices about how much they'll be engaged by a job while they're there, even as they reposition themselves for their next move."

So What?

"People don't aspire to be managers -- they want to be doers, and this will change corporate hierarchies. Companies will have to prove that management jobs offer added value to the individual as well as to the company. They'll need to transform the management function by breaking it down into captivating pieces, such as "communication enhancement" or "global resource allocation." Companies will also need to create new support positions -- expediters instead of administrators -- whose role will be to help smooth relationships across departments."

Futurology Decoder Key

"In the future, success will depend on a stable workforce of people who can adapt to rapid change. That's because no matter what else shifts in the market, relationship continuity is increasingly going to be what matters to customers, to suppliers, and to investors. Even in a fast economy, it's still longevity that counts."

Alison Wellner (awellner@earthlink.net) is a freelance writer based in Newark, Delaware. Contact Roger Herman by email (roger@herman.net).

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