Recently, we combined forces with several Agile companies to help them by forming their Agile Talent Development programs. Although each program served for company specific need, Agile Talent Development has five key points to take care of. In this blog I would like to share these insights so that you can realize your Agile Talent Development straight away!

1 – It starts with “I”

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”, the ancient quote from Aristoteles, still makes sense these days. While traditional talent development prescribes certain must haves, should haves and could haves in your skillset, these days learning starts with the individual needs in mind.

Often we see assessments to get to know yourself better, such as MBTI, ManagementDrives, InSights or Spiral Dynamics, only available for ‘higher-level’ functions. Conversations about ones reason for being never been held at all. Creating a continuing learning workforce (also see 4) starts however in getting to know yourself, your talents and your development direction.

2 – Embed soft-skills of the future

While technical skills such as programming and analyzing are very important, it may be even more important to develop creative and communication skills. It turns out to be the case that sooner or later, technical task such as programming and anlyzing, can be done way faster and consistently by the “digital” workers (i.e computers, robots, AI). The only thing digital is lacking – and therefor cannot reinvent itself – is the capability of imagination and creativity.

Also feedback skills, leadership and insights in team development and team dynamics are essential in an agile organizations. Even when facilitating development programs for technicians or operational experts, these so called ‘soft-skills’ are of great value and essential in helping people to stay relevant in the future of work.

Make development of these kind of skills available for everybody within the organizations and actively promote these kind of skills along technical skills.

3 – Empericism is key

Continuous learning is a matter of trial and error. Not only to discover on a personal level what suits your needs, the way you learn best, but also to ensure that you actually learning what you – and your environment – want to. Are you measurably succesful in developing certain (soft)-skills? Did you manage to produce things, you weren’t able before? And – most important – did it give you a higher level of personal satisfaction, does your learning contributes to your reason of being? And if not, what other experiments are there to take?

Bas Flapper and I will soon release a blog about “The Coach Approach”, an empirical way of coaching and personal development.


4 – Focus on Continuous Learning/Learning Agility

The main goal of Agile Talent Management is helping people to gain learning agility; the ability to learn what is needed at any point in time. This goes side by side with continuous learning (a life long learning) and developing a growth mindset; the believe that you can be as smart as you want to be. (Everybody can learn!)

By aiming towards learning agility, agile talent management will also benefit the flow through within your organization and helps improving sustainable employability. Either within or outside the organization.

When focussing on this, rather than on skill-level, you promote agility not only within your organization, but at its core; the people.

5 – Rewarding and recognition are different things

A lot of talent programs, or development programs, are bound to a rewarding policy. This rewarding policy is most of the time either system oriented (based on ratings and calibrations) or manager oriented (based on managers discretion). Both policies are percieved highly ‘unfair’. Amongst other downsides of both types of policies, such as high pressure and a lot of (extra) work.

Agile Talent Management is about both fair rewarding AND recognition. Recognition can be found in many other things than salary alone. Even stronger; recognition is a personal and interaction based “reward”, something salary will never give. To stimulate learning agility, recognition needs much more attention. Rewarding should definitely be fair, but it is recognition what moves us.

Decouple any (financial) rewarding policies from your talent development as soon as possible, to really get the conversation started about talent development rather then fairness and money.

Of course there is more to deal with when moving towards Agile Talent Management. How do you stimulate continuous feedback at any level for example? And how do you actually decouple rewarding from talent management? Don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss these and other questions in more depth or leave a comment with your own thoughts about this subject. Hopefully at a bare minimum, this blog will least give you some key-considerations to think of when moving towards Agile Talent Development.


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