An agile skills strategy, as it pertains to the workplace, is an approach that emphasises the importance of an employees’ skills as opposed to their job title or qualifications. It is a way to encourage flexibility, resilience and agility within your organisation, helping your workforce to develop and grow.
By adopting an agile skills strategy as opposed to a traditional skills ontology, organisations prepare themselves for the changing demands of their industry and ensure that they remain innovative.
Jo has joined a company as a marketing assistant. Their manager may say to them: “To add to your existing skills in marketing, I’d like you to attend workshops about project management and sales.”
This will ensure Jo stays adaptable to any developments in their job role. In turn, the organisation as a whole plans to remain agile against the changing demands of their industry while Jo gains valuable new skills.
How can you be more agile at work? If you’re planning on adopting an agile strategy, this starts with the willingness to change course and break out of the “this is the way it’s always been done” mindset. As adults it can be tempting to act as though we already know everything, despite the fact that of course, this couldn’t be any further from the truth. By removing your ego from the situation and accepting that learning is a lifelong endeavour, you are on your first step to becoming agile at work.
Another crucial element of being agile at work is being an active listener. When you listen and take in the needs of your organisation, you can adapt yourself to best fit those needs - instead of simply sticking rigidly to the processes already in place.
Don’t be afraid to get creative, and collaborate with other team members and departments. This provides a more robust overview of the company - which gives you more data to work with. Speaking of collaborating with others, good communication is essential. Make sure you’re communicating effectively with other people, both so you can express your own needs and understand those of others.
Now onto that coveted skill: Resilience. Being resilient at work allows you not only to adapt to change, but to manage the potential stress associated with it. This doesn’t mean simply going blindly along with the status quo; rather, it allows you to bounce back from inevitable setbacks and continue to do your best work.
To build agile teams within your business, you must foster a collaborative and adaptive culture that embraces continuous learning for everyone. This starts from the top down. It’s imperative that management is on board and understands the importance of agility, so that you have the “go ahead” to fund continuous learning, development and experimentation.
Empower your people to seek out new skills that make their role more agile. If they need it, you can even help them decide which skills would fit them best.
Learning doesn’t just trickle down from the higher-ups; everyone in your organisation has valuable knowledge to share. When you acknowledge this, and open up communication between all team members at every level, you are actively creating an agile culture wherein everyone is learning.
Finally, feedback is a crucial element of becoming an agile organisation. Ensure that everybody within your workforce feels empowered to provide feedback at every level, so you can adapt to what works best. Develop metrics to measure the results and/or success of your agile skills strategy so you can keep in mind what worked, and what didn’t, going forward.
There is so much value in adopting an agile skills strategy. Firstly, you prepare and arm your organisation against potential advancements to your industry - so that when something changes, you don’t feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under you.
Your staff will absolutely thank you. An agile culture prioritises staff’s learning and development, which makes working for you a much more attractive proposition. Furthermore, they’ll feel like they have the power and autonomy to decide what is most important to them within their roles.
An agile skills strategy (combined with a good product and customer service, of course) benefits your customers. A 2021 study found a direct correlation between agile skills strategies and higher rates of customer satisfaction. This is the case for a few reasons, chief among them being support staff’s ability to adapt to changing customer needs thanks to the agile culture of the organisation.
By its very definition, an agile skills strategy is not a methodology, or an ontology like traditional skills. The very point of agile skills strategies is to remain fluid, and be adopted as a mindset rather than a strict set of rules.
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