I described the fundamental aspects of agile talent management in my last blog post on the topic of talent management: a development-guided notion of talent, talent enabling, self-organization and a supportive talent culture. Building on that, I will now propose further thoughts on actually implementing these in a company.
Talent management with flexible formats
In agile environments, talent management – or rather talent enabling – needs to be dynamic instead of process-driven. We therefore have to question specified annual cycles of talent management. There is little point to conducting employee conversations at pre-set points in time when work structures undergo dynamic change and project cycles take the form of thirty day sprints. The format of the employee conversation is still an important tool in principle. It does not do, however, to use it as a mere step within a process. In other words, feedback is provided, individual development desires and training requirements are talked about and employees are evaluated whenever there is an occasion to do so. The timing is variable, as are the persons who are invited into the setting. Team colleagues may be included, where necessary. Employees and managers have to be enabled to apply these formats for talent flexibly and apply them in their own manner as required.
Talent management software must not be the structural guide for talent development. This is even more true now than it was in traditional forms of organizations. Interaction and learning by experience are pivotal. A a result, talent management and its supporting systems gain a new flexibility. Adaptable and accessible formats for talent are more important than one continuous talent process.
New roles in intrinsic career management
My previous contribution described development-guided behavior and self-organization in talent management; these create a demand for new skills in an organization. Employees now shoulder more responsibility for themselves and their career development. In traditional companies, career planning is often still based on the mechanism of the system: pre-ordained career paths, promotion cycles, appointments as high potential, which will surely deliver the employees – given good work – to the correct (and crucial) position in the organization. Linear formats of this kind no longer work in agile environments. The employees need to establish their own profile of competence by themselves, as well as being able to name their personal motivation and values truthfully and in detail in order to deduce from these their career goals and action plans. It takes a new way of thinking and acting to be able to perform this kind of self-direction. The employees can be supported in their self-organization by way of staff offers with regard to career planning. Such offers include, e.g., position reckoning, peer coaching, job shadowing and mentoring.
Managers will also have to rethink and assume their role as a talent coach. As a professional coach does, they do not decide career questions, but are required to accompany the employee with regular feedback and negotiation that takes into account the available capabilities. They help to identify fields for development and to attain learning goals, they make educational offers, e.g, for new projects. Managers may need support in order to implement this role. This can come in the form of training. However, what is required is not only the attainment of concrete skills but also a new understanding of the management role, as is generally true for agile organizations. As in other fields, the managers will assume a moderating and supporting function in talent management.
Agile talent management requires new formats and interventions. New attitudes and roles need to be assumed and accepted so that flexibility and personal responsibility can be implemented successfully.