Management Skills: Agile Culture and Agile Behaviour

agile culture

In a neat article by Jim Harter for Gallup ‘Why managers are Central to an Agile Culture’ he says:

Only half of employees globally clearly know what’s expected of them at work — it’s hard to respond quickly and nimbly when you’re not sure what your responsibilities are.

Interesting isn’t it? Depressing too? Or at the very least it’s got to be worrying; because if only half of employees clearly know what’s expected of them, then clearly half of our employees don’t!

I’ve written a lot about the topic of clarity (‘are you clear on what you want from your employees?’ ‘the power of clarity’) and of course it doesn’t take a genius to work out that  if our employees are unclear on what, for example, ‘agility’ means (in practice, in their organisation and in their job) then we can’t expect them to demonstrate that ‘agility’ (because how can anyone demonstrate what they don’t understand?)

So what’s the answer?

Management Skills: Describing an Agile Culture

If, as Jim Harter says, people are not sure what their responsibilities are then its back to basics and I’d suggest the first basic is to agree some performance objectives (you can read my articles about performance objectives here)

My guess would be that there’s a more specific need for utilising behavioural performance objectives – on the basis that ‘agility’ is a range of behaviours we want our employees to demonstrate. The approach to defining behavioural objectives I find most useful is to focus on the question ‘What does it look like’? Why? Because when we describe what a cultural value ‘looks like’ we are describing observable behaviours. And when we can describe the behaviours we want to see we can then share those descriptions with our employees. It’s all about clarity

Here are three questions that could help you describe ‘agility’

What does agility look like in practice?

It might be a good idea to undertake some research on this – looking at how ‘agility’ is described by other businesses, research organisations etc

What does agility look like for our organisation?

Here you’d be defining what you as a business mean by ‘agility’ i.e. what it looks like in practice for your organisation (or what you would like it to look like)

What does agility look like in this specific role?

Here you would be looking at each specific role and describing what behaviours you want to see demonstrated in order for you to consider the person in that role to be ‘agile’. Tip: if you’re struggling to describe what it is, you could begin by describing what it isn’t – see more on this technique of reverse thinking, along with an example of a behavioural performance objective, here

Management Skills and Values

Jim Harter says

And most employees are unclear about what their organization stands for, while fewer believe strongly in their organization’s values.

I’ve written before about Business Values and employee behaviours so I won’t repeat myself here except to say that a great way to define and explain the values of any business is to start with defining the behaviours associated with those values. Enough said? (If not – read more here)

Management Skills Summary

If you follow any of the links to my blogs in this post you’ll see that I’ve been writing about clarity, and particularly clarity on behaviours, for years. I’m not alone. Yet, as Jim Harter reports, employees are still unclear on what’s expected of them. I honestly don’t understand why some managers, and businesses, seem so reluctant to explain to their staff what they want and need from them. Do you know?

Do you want to read more about how to use behavioural performance objectives?

Why not take a look at my e-book ‘Motivating Your Staff with Powerful Performance Objectives’ – a step-by-step guide for managers, team leaders and supervisors who want to motivate their staff to high performance. More details HERE

Leave a Reply