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Talent Management Goes Agile

Sunday, December 20, 2020
Author: Business Consultants, Inc.

Talent Management Goes Agile

You could say HR is going “agile lite,” applying the general principles without adopting all the tools and protocols from the tech world. It’s a move away from a rules- and planning-based approach towards a simpler and faster model driven by feedback from participants.

Below are some examples of practices companies have adopted or suggested to make talent management more agile:*

  • The Bank of Montreal (BMO) made a shift in their talent management and they now approach performance management in terms of teams and not just individuals. This was made possible when tech employees joined cross-functional-product-development teams to make the bank more customer focused. The business side has learned agile principles from IT colleagues and IT has learned about customer needs.
  • GE also known for their management through control systems switched to FastWorks, a lean approach that cuts back on top-down financial controls and empowers teams to manage projects as needs evolve.
  • One of the old HR practices given up after the introduction of agility is the annual employee performance appraisal. As individuals worked on shorter-term projects of various lengths, often run by different leaders and organized around teams, the notion that performance feedback would come once a year, from one boss, made little sense. They needed more of it, more often, from more people. Many organizations have switched to frequent performance assessments that are often conducted project by project. Coaching is another effective agile talent practice. Supervisors go through “coach” training designed for busy managers. The training is broken down into 90 minute videos that can be viewed as people have time. Supervisors can also engage in brief, spread out learning sessions similar to “learning sprints” to reflect and test drive new skills on the job.
  • Another common agile practice includes peer-to peer feedback. Colleagues form learning cohorts to share ideas and tactics.
  • Teams are also working differently with the introduction of agility. Teams have taken the responsibility of tracking their own progress, identifying obstacles, assessing their leadership, and generating insights about how to improve performance.
  • Multidirectional feedback is another common practice where employees communicate their feedback directly to other employees who are not their supervisors. The approach is not through a formal hierarchical communication channel but rather constructive feedback that flows among team members.
  • In agile organizations, “upward” feedback from employees to team leaders and supervisors is highly valued too. One of the ways managers can encourage is by wanting and appreciating employee comments.
  • Apps are also an effective tool for managers to observe fluctuations in employee and team performance over time. Apps have been introduced to make it easier to communicate large volumes of feedback frequently across the organization. Some apps make it easier to save feedback in order to check it again later, others allow employees to score progress on goals and apps like Slack provide feedback on collaboration. Cisco uses proprietary technology to collect weekly raw data, or “breadcrumbs,” from employees about their peers’ performance.

In conclusion, talent management remains a crucial building block of most organizations. The volatile, uncertain world we are living in today has forced businesses to change their old static practices to new more flexible and agile practices. Talent management today is about facilitating and leading people through change to allow them to smoothly deliver the results the company needs.



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