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Agility: the standard in talent management

"If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near." Jack Welch, ex-CEO of General Electric.

In his twenty-year reign as top executive, he transformed the company from a bureaucratic colossus into a dynamic, flexible organization. But what does a dynamic, flexible organization ask of its employees?

About agility: the standard in talent management.

Agility is an elastic term. Organizations do not all have to be as dynamic and flexible as the General Electrics, Googles and Apples of the world in order to ensure continuity. After all, clients expect a different type of agility from a care institution than from an innovative IT company.

Nor do employees have to become a clone of Steve Jobs in order to be able to keep on delivering value. It is, however, important that employees, whatever role they might take on, deliver to agility in their own way. The trick is to optimally connect the employees’ diversity in agility with the roles in the organization.

This is agility 
Agility consists of 5 dimensions:

  1. Innovate: thinking outside of the box, thinking up new solutions.
  2. Change: undertake new things, being curious about new situations.
  3. Connect: exchange ideas andopinions, learning from each other and understanding each other.
  4. Realize: being driven to make a success out of something, finding the best way of achieving results.
  5. Reflect: critically looking at one’s own performances, making an effort to improve.

Agility only works in a team environment 
Agility not just to innovate. Realizing new ideas of others is just as important. That is why agility only works in a team environment. A team needs the different dimensions of agility in order to realize objectives.

Every dimensions of agility counts 
Take a team or lawyers and a team of selling consultants that work together. The team of selling consultants will need to have an above-average supply of the dimension Innovate in order to quickly anticipate the demands of clients. The team of lawyers will, on the other hand, need to have an above-average supply of the dimension Connect, in order to support the innovation process of the selling consultants in great detail. All in all, different dimensions of agility are important, depending on the team’s task.

Agility and talent management 
Now that we have concluded that every employee can add to agility in his or her own way, we need to address the question: How do you develop agility in employees? We know that people are more inclined to change and develop if the feel a sense of urgency, and are at the same time motivated to use their natural strengths. The same goes for agility. With the difference that clarity about Sinek’s ‘Why’, in other words the organization’s right to exist, is even more important than for traditional competency or talent development.

The organization’s right to exist is the stable course in the quickly changing world. If employees understand the organization’s right to exist, they understand the necessity to move with it and develop themselves. No matter how agile employees are, changing for the sake of change won’t work.

First agility, then competencies 
Agility is, as it were, a layer between the organization’s right to exist and the executive roles. It is therefore advisable to distribute the diversity of agility in the right way first, and let the underlying competencies of the roles subsequently connect to that.

In other words: if you use your insight into agility of employees with the right to exist of the organization in mind, you will have a powerful instrument that will allow you to quickly conduct the right intervention to increase the yield provided by available talent. That is talent management at its best.