Talent Agility – A Systematic Approach to Business Agility

Well, until a few years ago, talent management was just a function of HRD. And even the largest of the organizations didn’t focus much on managing and developing their talent.

However, with increasing challenges and extreme volatility in business environment, companies are now realizing that they cannot just rely on their capital and automated systems. Rather they need human intellect and creativity to strive and thrive.

Organizations have always needed people. But the big difference is that in the current times they need people who can respond to change effectively and frequently. More precisely, they need people who are agile – in their thought and approach; those who are flexible and can easily and repeatedly adapt to changes – both internal and external.

This means that creating talent agility is important to sustain and remain at the forefront of the competition. Yet every organization speaks of the importance of getting the right talent onboard and retaining its best people, they haven’t really taken any solid step in this direction. And this is a dichotomy. They not only need to attract agile talent but also retain them.

So, before we see how talent agility can be acquired, let’s first understand what it means.

What is Talent Agility?

Talent agility is the:

  • Ability of employees of an organization to respond to external changes efficiently and nimbly.
  • Willingness and capacity of people of an organization to make themselves future ready by anticipating changes and preparing to deal with them.

And from the organization’s point of view, talent agility is having the talent that:

  • Can anticipate and respond to changes on its own
  • Is ready to work in a volatile business world
  • Has a creative bend to deal differently with a situation
  • Is self starter and highly motivated
  • Can innovate and drive change
  • Is ready to move out of the comfort zone when required
  • Experiments and is not scared of failures

Talent Agility Gap

When it comes to talent agility, larger businesses face a wider gap than startups and small businesses. Employees in startups are more flexible and agile as they are used to perform multiple jobs and work harder to make ends meet. On the other hand, the workforce in larger companies is less agile and flexible. They are less comfortable in doing things that are out of their expertise. The situation is even worse in government institutions. The talent agility gap is the widest in all the government areas/departments.

There have been many studies in this field, which tell that:

  • The organizations understand that top-quality talent plays a critical role in gaining competitive advantage; and its shortage affects their ability to compete and innovate.

  • Organizations displaying talent priorities attract talent through diverse sources and place appropriate plans, strategies and budgets to attract top-quality talent.

  • Organizations, in the face of ever-growing competition, depend considerably (almost 50%) on highly flexible workforce.

  • Highly agile companies admit that all three, including HR, operations and procurement focus on strategic talent priorities.

All organizations admit the need of highly skilled, flexible and agile workforce to strive and thrive in economic tumultuous times. But they face numerous challenges because of which they find it difficult to bridge the gap. Sometimes, there are budget constraints. At other times, it’s the lack of awareness and keenness.

Assessing Talent Agility Gap

Before you even try to fill the talent agility gap, it’s important to assess your company’s current standing. It gives you a clear picture of what you

  • must get rid of
  • should continue to do
  • need improvement
  • should do next to improve talent agility

Assess talent agility gap in your organization by asking these questions:

  • Do you have a clear idea of the talent in your organization?
  • How do you assess the talent in your organization?
  • How do you compare your talent with that of competitors’?
  • Are there enough career and progression opportunities in your company?
  • Are responsibilities and accountability openly communicated in your organization?
  • Are employees given opportunities to switch roles or pursue their alternative interests?
  • Do people in your company handle diverse responsibilities?
  • Are they provided with enough new experiences while working?
  • If they are exposed to a new challenge, will they be able to handle it?
  • Are managers motivating/ encouraging enough to move people fast enough to deal with sudden challenges?
  • Are you able to tap the external talent when required? Do you have access to the required skills internally or externally when needed?

Once you find answers to these questions, you would know what processes are outdated; what need to be changed, and what new things to be implemented. You will be able to spot the talent agility gap while also gaining clarity on how to bridge this gap.

Bridging the Talent Agility Gap

Bridging the talent agility gap is a step in itself towards acquiring business agility. Manpower and its management is the most crucial aspect of a business. And business agility is more about relying on human instincts and abilities to respond to and drive changes. Therefore, there is a direct relationship between business agility and talent agility.

Here are a couple of ways to bridge talent agility gap. Take a look:

  1. Develop a Career Model for Talent

    Highly agile companies have a well-defined career model in place for their employees. Their people are told right in the beginning that the company will look after them if they commit themselves to a career with it. They will be trained on new skills and be future ready on company’s expense. This is one of the best ways to keep them motivated and focused. Also, this is a strategy to retain them.

  2. Look for Highly Flexible Talent

    This is an approach to find highly flexible talent in the industry without promising them a career and job security in return. This approach has been adopted by many companies of repute, such as LinkedIn wherein they tell individuals that they will highly paid and can remain in job as long as they are able to perform brilliantly. This is about finding the experts skills right away, so that there’s no need to train and develop employees. They begin with work as soon as they are hired.

  3. Crowdsource Labor

    Internet has made it easier and faster to look for experts who are ready to perform a job at a fixed price within the contracted time. Crowdsourcing of labor, in fact, is an older technique but finds great relevance in bridging the talent agility gap. Precisely, an organization outsources the task that needs to be performed almost immediately and requires high level of skills. One obvious advantage is that the talent is not hired on full-time basis and is paid only for the work done.

    Therefore, the talent agility gap can be filled by three methods:

    • By giving a career to existing full-time employees in exchange of high performance and commitment
    • By hiring highly flexible yet expert talent ready to perform the job almost immediately for a contracted amount
    • By finding people who like to work to earn high amount of money and don’t really require a career security

However, there’s no hard and fast rule on which of the methods works better for your company. You will need to identify it on your own and conduct a hit-and-trial experiment. Or there may be another way that can help you bridge the gap and enhance your company’s talent agility.

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