Many organizations are realizing the benefits of an ‘Always On’ performance approach. But if we are going to transform any of our talent management systems, we need to demonstrate vision and persistence in our approach. A “waterfall”, an all-or-nothing, overnight change is rarely successful; therefore, large-scale transformation needs to be deliberate, consistent, and flexible. Agile development methodologies are those in which ‘requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams’1. We can learn from the basic principles of agile development, and take that same agile approach to transforming our talent systems.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the Agile development principles2 and how we can apply them to talent management transformation.
- Continuous software delivery. Traditional software development approaches were to create one large project, do all of the development at once, then all of the testing, and then deliver one large release. Much like we want to change our talent management practices, we may have one large effort planned. But don’t hold back all of your changes to roll out at once. Create a phased approach and roll them out continuously over time. Once you commit to a delivery date for a portion of your transformation, ensure that you meet it.
- Welcome changing requirements.
Organizations evolve, which will lead to evolving requirements. Instead of ignoring the possibility of changes or simply dreading them, anticipate those changes and welcome them as opportunities. Some of those unanticipated changes and adaptations might become some of the most impactful elements within your entire transformation.
- Close cooperation between business people.
It goes without saying, but talent process transformation can’t happen in a vacuum. You need to understand how the changes are impacting individuals and teams across the organization, and what your team can do to make the transformation smoother for everyone involved. People who dislike change often do so because of the perceived inconvenience of those changes on their routine; mitigate that inconvenience, and your transformation will be better adopted by the workforce.
- Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted.
Identify who your internal champion is and let that person be spokesperson for the project. Their enthusiasm will sell everyone on the transformation and how the talent management process changes will benefit everyone, as individuals, as teams, and as an organization.
- Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication.
The best communication strategies consist of email, internal news portals, and face-to-face interactions. Use the combination of communication vehicles for a comprehensive approach.
- Working software is the principal measure of progress. Don’t wait until you think the transformation will be ‘complete’ to measure your success. Start with a benchmark before your start your transformation journey, and then continue to measure results as you go along, using the benchmark as your starting point.
- Sustainable development.
Transformation is not going to happen overnight. It will take time. Be realistic and upfront about how long it’s going to take to make your transformation.
- Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design.
Regularly go back to your objectives and plan specifics to check yourself if you are following the good design and detailed plan to create excellence.
Focus on accomplishments and current short term objectives. Take it one day at a time. Don’t attempt to boil the ocean; instead, break your project into shorter, smaller phases to make short term objectives achievable.
- Self-organizing teams. Create teams who are committed and passionate about the transformation. Leverage those teams to help you prioritize changes, communicate and promote enthusiastically those process changes.
- Regular adaptation to changing circumstance. Change is inevitable. So plan for that and build into your plan the ability to respond to and in many times benefit from those changing circumstances.
By taking an agile approach, by staying consistent and committed – you’ll make those changes to your performance management or talent management process. Whether it’s recruiting, performance, compensation, learning or succession, with an agile approach you’ll be able to implement those changes across the organization with momentum and success.
Don’t expect to realize your change overnight. Keep your vision, remain persistent and committed, and over time, not only will you make that transformation happen, you’ll make it even better with an agile approach that continuously improves your talent strategies, and hence, your business outcomes.
For the sake of our employees, our most valuable asset –let’s take an agile approach to transform our talent processes so that we can help each individual to become the most talented employee they can be.
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1Agile Software Development. Wikipedia 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agile_software_development
2Beck, Kent; et al. (2001)."Principles behind the Agile Manifesto". Agile Alliance.Archivedfrom the original on 14 June 2010. Retrieved6 June2010.