Book Reviews: Stretch, Workplace Wellness, and Measuring Professional Development

Prepare yourself for tomorrow’s workplace.

Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace

Karie Willyerd and Barbara Mistick; Wiley; 240 pages; $26

If you’re waiting for your organization to train you to succeed in the unclear future of work, you’re at risk of losing control of both your career and your current job. On average, according to the Center for Creative Leadership, only 10 percent of learning comes from formal training. Thus, even the most talented workers can have a “sell-by date,” often one they don’t see coming, say authors Karie Willyerd and Barbara Mistick in their book Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace.

Their research of 5,500 employees and executives in diverse industries confirms that the urgency for people to take charge of their own careers has never been greater. The question is how—and be specific, please.

Fortunately, the authors are. They start by sharing three Stretch Imperatives—it’s all on you, you need options, you have dreams—which they break into five Stretch Practices: “bouncing forward,” learning on the fly, building a diverse network, being “greedy about experiences,” and being open to the 70 percent of on-the-job learning that happens informally. Thirty strategies to execute these practices help you “stretch” steadily and measurably.

The strategies emerge from personal stories of research participants, along with supporting data from the authors’ studies and other trends, such as the rise of “unintentional de-skilling” and the growth of colocated workplaces.

Keep a pencil ready for the 30 Stretch Breaks of short self-assessments and reflection questions. Your answers build momentum for the Plan Your Future tool at the end. Not an optional assignment for any serious professional.

Workplace Wellness That Works: 10 Steps to Infuse Well-Being and Vitality into Any Organization

By Laura Putnam; Wiley; 352 pages; $35

Although 75 percent of U.S. employees have access to workplace wellness programs, the average participation rate is 20 percent, and questions about the true value of such efforts are increasing.

Wellness consultant Laura Putnam understands that the term “workplace wellness” can give workers the willies, so in this well-researched and highly readable book, she switches the conversation to challenges that resonate with any leader—sustainable performance, resilience building, productivity improvement, and employee engagement.

While “classic” wellness programs get a brief nod, Putnam is after something much larger: a business movement that infuses a broader view of wellness organization-wide.

Putnam divides her action framework into 10 steps and case studies on how to start, build, and nurture a Wellness 2.0 initiative.

Measuring the Success of Leadership Development: A Step-by-Step Guide for Measuring Impact and Calculating ROI

By Patricia Pullman Phillips, Jack Phillips, and Rebecca Ray; ATD Press; 252 pages; $38.95

leadership develop- ment ranks in the top-three concerns of association CEOs, but quantifying these programs can be difficult. Using the publishing arm of the Association for Talent Development, this trio of authors offers one tool for doing so.

Their thorough explanation of ROI methodology walks organizations through the how-tos of conducting practical, credible data analysis, communicating results to different audiences, and overcoming obstacles. While not all of the specifics are relevant to associations, chapters for international operations managers, new leaders, and supervisors certainly are. Also strong is the “Measuring ROI in Fundamentals of Business Leadership” section. Visual learners will like the many charts and chunked “lessons learned” takeaways.

Kristin Clarke, CAE

By Kristin Clarke, CAE

Kristin Clarke, CAE, is books editor for Associations Now and president of Clarke Association Content. MORE

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