What practical steps could your business take to be more Agile?


In today’s world of constant and relentless change, businesses need to consider how they become experts in leading through uncertainty and ambiguity, and become flexible and agile. Part of becoming more agile is about how organisations support the difference between people. People simply need support to deal with things that are new to them and the ability to relate to and work with people that aren’t just like them. The more an organisation can support ‘difference’ and ‘change’ the more agile they become. And by making your people more agile, you’re just making yourself more agile for your customers too!


Understand that difference delivers results

Bin the badges! Building specific clubs to motivate and nurture your people is a common approach, but you are almost certainly undoing your own knitting before you begin… By having an ‘Exclusive Club’ e.g. Women’s Networks, others, in this example, (Men) feel excluded…and rightly so. Building events and cultures which enable different people to meet and work together will broaden perspectives, help people build the skills to relate to people who ‘aren’t just like them’ and massively enhance your inclusive, agile culture. Avoid stereotyping and putting your people into pigeon holes – they will fly away!


Focus your leaders on areas that make a real difference

Don’t assume that your people (and senior leaders) know how to deal with people who are different to them. Often, they don’t! Your people need to be encouraged to ‘get into the shoes’ of people they work with, to understand what’s important to them and what they want to achieve AND really relate to them. Simply taking time to have genuine ‘coaching conversations’ that are solely focussed on the individual are often taken over by operational issues or, let’s face it, preconceived ideas. How would your leaders score on our ‘Curiosity Test’?


Business as usual = CHANGE

Even if you and your people are doing all of the above, we know that in today’s world change is BAU. How do you support your people through change? How do you want your leaders to lead through uncertainty and ambiguity? During times of extreme change, your leaders need to be able to coach, support and guide their teams and give them clarity and help with the ambiguity that surrounds them. This is where the investment of time to really understand people and what drives them, rather than make subjective judgements, will take you closer to agility and relevant, flexible delivery.


Not everyone wants to be in charge

Every organisation needs a range of skills, aspirations, personalities, a mix of gender, experiences and ideas to gain a competitive edge. A business needs to recognise that some of its people just want to use their brain, enjoy working with other people, do a good job and then want go home. Accept that peoples’ motivations, needs and ambitions change in their career too. It costs a lot less to understand, build on and utilise what you have and may prevent many regretted, painful, ‘exit processes’. Consider what is important to people – not just your ‘Stars’ or ‘Talent’ group – and think about how your organisation is supporting them. What more can you do to nurture difference and change to drive agility?


Give your managers the power

It is so often the case that ‘process’ kicks in and before you know it personal and business objectives are misaligned and problems start to ignite…all as a result of a process being generically applied. Do your processes and policies stop people working flexibly when occasionally a ‘home crisis’ arises or prevent people going for a run at lunchtime? Are any of your policies stopping people being agile? Do your leaders really know how to lead virtually and remotely? The freedom to apply policy with common sense should be at the very front of your leaders minds.

Linda Armstrong


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