The Point: If you/your organization rely on external experts to develop transformative products so as to (1) better understand how people think and use your products/services or (2) aim to benefit from external expertise as a strategic extension of your resources you probably understand that agile, fast, and lean strategies require you to think in new ways about (a) accessing and leveraging key strategic talent and (b) filling critical gaps in strategic capabilities… The answer may lie in your ability to identify/secure agile talent. In this post we’ll examine the leadership challenge of external agile talent and propose 3 tips… Enjoy!
Agile Equals External, Project-based, and Flexible
An estimated 20-30 percent of today’s workforce is comprised of talent which is based outside the organization’s full-time, permanent employee-employer relationship. Another study reflects upwards of 40 percent! And yet a third study reflects that nearly 25 percent of the US Workforce is comprised of independent contractors engaged in work for more than one organization.
While these financial expenditures help keep labor costs low (The all important expense found on an income statement), they also represent a leadership challenge working with such agile talent because by their very nature, external talent is just that… External the organization, especially when considering the agile talent’s individual mission/vision/values in comparison with that of the sponsoring organization.
How to Effectively Manage Agile Talent – 3 Tips!
The following represent three tips when working with such agile talent:
Tip #3 – Manage the Relationship
When sourcing and recruiting agile talent, most organizations assign the task to purchasing departments (not even human resources is consulted). This leads to the implementation/management of talent to those operating managers that were not even involved/present with hiring decisions. The obvious discord between purchasing and operations leaves a “gap” between expectations and engagement pursuits. In order to overcome such gaps, best practices include joint sourcing of agile talent whereby skills and talents are identified and allowed to execute according to organizational guidelines.
Tip #2 – Competitive vs. Cooperative Environments
While securing agile talent external to the organization can bring an influx of subject matter expertise to initiatives, these subject matter experts may be looked at as competition to those internal the organization. Best practices include creating an environment of cooperation, where internal talent and external agile talent combine for successful project execution.
Tip #1 – Results Focus
Selecting, engaging and managing agile talent is at the heart of successful change initiatives. However, most operations look upon external talent as those that are “separate, but not equal” in stature to those internal talents. Therefore, the results are often askew of intended results. Best practices consist of hiring for short, as well as long-term goal attainment. Such a broadening of goal attainment vision won’t allow for a “separate, but not equal” atmosphere/attitude.
In this post we’ve examined the leadership challenge of agile talent, as well as three tips to improve best practice outcomes. Important tips to remember when engaging external talent include managing the relationships, creating a cooperative atmosphere, and maintaining a results focus on organizational mission, vision, and values.