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How to Build an Agile and Efficient Workforce

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In such a technologically dynamic era for business, it’s hardly surprising that business teams everywhere are changing the way they work just to keep speed in the global marketplace.

Agility is a key to maintaining a cutting edge in enterprise, yet according to a Confederation of British Industry Employment Trends survey, mentalities in the C-suite are clipping the wings of a workforce that’s willing and able to adapt. For firms to be truly agile, cultural change needs to occur, and this must start at the top.

What does agile mean?

Having the right people in the right place in a business is not enough, members in agile teams both accept and expect change in the way things are done.

If developing a product, this might involve carrying prototypes through many iterations, testing programmes and observations so that the perfect end result is achieved. More generally, an agile climate will emphasise skill-set developing to drive a culture that thirsts for innovation and experimentation.

Not only do the top brass have to adopt agility into daily practices, but employees throughout the organisation’s hierarchy must be empowered to do the same. Follow these tips to get this necessary culture-change underway:

Cherish specialisation

Persons of high expertise often become conspicuous for the hole they leave in a company should they move onto pastures new. These greatly valued individuals can leave a frenzy in their wake as teams scrabble to recreate the fantastic work they used to accomplish.

While true agility will enable smooth transitions in such instances, best practice would head this problem off at the pass with more being done to retain persons of high value in the first place.

In the event of key resignations, managers should have systems in place to enable the workplace to absorb the shock of departure. This could start with chat sessions being recorded or documentation being put together while specialists are still in their job, so that replacements can be trained as quickly and easily as possible. An even better option would be to have promising replacements shadow the specialist to get insight into how their jobs are done.

Give workers the skills they need

Workers need to know they are allowed and able to take on new challenges. A great deal of this is set in spreading a culture of personal belief – enabling staff members to have the confidence to take themselves to a task. Breaking away from the comfort zone is a key driver to this process.

Encouraging task delegation or rotating staff roles will keep communication and awareness sharp, while encouraging staff members to carry out tasks on their own will enable individuals to develop a team-leader mentality that gravitates towards informed, independent decision-making.

One or two mistakes are to be expected in such a climate, but if personal belief and aptitude are to grow in the right way, staff need to know that they can experiment in their approach without fear of failure.

Magnify the personal side

People are the cogs that turn the machinery of business, so these delicate bits of kit need to be treated carefully. This begins by not treating them like bits of kit.

Managers should start by simply talking more to the staff within the organisation. Going beyond the bland corporate smile, an honest and interested conversation into another person’s likes and dislikes is a great way of positively transmitting that conversation is good and healthy part of work.

These behaviours should be encouraged within smaller teams, replacing the teacher-pupil dynamic with respect-building collaboration.

Encourage trial and error

Only through experimentation can true innovation occur – a tenet embraced by the most agile organisations characterised for their ability to reinvent and change with the times.

This forward-thinking attitude not only strives for new products and methods but it creates a workforce that is poised for change, whatever shape that may take. This inherent ability to drive change will go a long way to ensuring that your business keeps pace with the competition, when it’s not leading it.

Experimentation can be nurtured through regular, relaxed meetings for mind-mapping ideas and discussion of different approaches. This will motivate staff, advertise your organisation’s dependence on its personnel, and provid individuals with a means to vent what concerns them most about the projects they work on.

Focussing the lens into agile project management, a team developing deliverables in small steps will benefit from regular meetings to proactively review and feedback with a view to improving a product.

Speak and be set free

A holistic approach works best for teams aiming to be truly agile. On the ground this means allowing communication channels to stay open so that learners, workers, business sponsors and managers can reach one another easily.

Something as simple as integrating professional chat service, Slack, into your daily communications, will loosen email loads, ease confusion and facilitate daily workflows in subtle but effective ways.

Agile teams connect frequently over the course of a day to share accomplishments as much as work-related aims and objectives. This accessibility should extend to project plans, so that everyone knows a project’s details at a glance.

Conclusion

Agile works because it breaks large projects, firms and teams down into small chunks and a daily conversation, and that suits the way humans live and work. An agile approach is the working definition of taking the small steps that maximise productivity to make that 10,000-mile journey manageable.

As companies grow through new partnerships, angles for emerging markets and developing technologies, change on every level is inevitable. As such, firms with agility in their DNA will stand out for their ability to adapt and scale with enviable ease in the eyes of competitors.

 

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Tags: Business, Digital Transformation