In today’s fast-paced, dynamic and digital world, many organisations are embracing ‘agile’ working practices. While this could be a win-win for the organisation, its customers and staff, many staff are struggling. Unfortunately, few businesses are addressing this problem effectively, and with mental health and well-being challenges already flourishing in the workplace, there are simple changes that organisations can do to support its staff so that they can not only survive, but thrive at work too.

Although it’s been around for over fifteen years, Agile working seems to be spreading like wild-fire. This makes sense when you understand the huge benefits that it can offer an organisation, its customers and staff.

Better for Customers

Organisations that embrace agile working can offer a better customer experience because they can respond swiftly and promptly to market opportunities and customer demands.

Better for businesses

Agile working allows organisations to work smarter by removing the barriers that have – in the past – prevented them from working quickly and efficiently. The result is that they can accelerate decision-making, embrace employee needs, reduce its costs, increase productivity and improve sustainability, all the while staying ahead of the competition.

Better for staff

These new agile structures can also be hugely positive for staff because organisations can harness the changing employee demographics and their accompanying needs. For example, there are more Millennials and women making up the workforce than ever before and they require flexibility of when and where they work. Agile working offers a solution to this by making them office-independent, which decreases the daily commute – and associated transport costs – while being better for the environment too. Not working 9 to 5 in an office environment can also help reduce the traditional strains that can cause stress-related illnesses.

Agile working would seem to be a win-win for all.

The problem

Unfortunately, many staff are struggling to adapt to the changes, partly because they haven’t been equipped with the right skills, but also because they worry about:

  • The new: ‘This is how I’ve always done it and it’s worked just fine!’
  • The unknown: ‘How will these changes impact me, my role and my team?’
  • The security of their future: ‘Will I still have a job at the end of all of this?’
  • Their capability: ‘Will I be able to adapt?’

The answer

While clear, honest and direct communication from the top can go a long way to alleviate their fears around the ‘unknown’, training is vital to help ease their concerns around ‘new’, ‘future’ and ‘capability’. This is why staff need the right people skills and mind-set to help them alter how they think, feel and behave so that they can get excited and are able to cope with the change positively rather than fearing it.

In addition to this, organisations must equip their staff – both managers and team members – with the skills and mind-set to believe in themselves, be able to communicate effectively (often remotely) and to self-manage. They also need to equip their agile managers with the skill of coaching and giving effective feedback.

Agile Managers

Agile managers need to think differently and use a different set of skills than they’re used to in the traditional ‘command and control’ style of management. While they still need to deliver a project on time and within budget, it’s how they go about achieving the results that’s different. First, they need to produce an initial, high-level project plan and then delegate responsibility to the project team. This means that managers need to be able to ‘let go’ and empower their teams so they can make their own decisions about how to achieve the results. Managers need to give their team maximum flexibility and minimum restrictions so they can get on with their jobs in their own way. The key skills they need then is to be able to facilitate discussion, problem solve, evaluate, give feedback, and coach, while motivating and developing their team to be the best that they can be without imposing their own restricted thoughts or ideas.

Agile Team Members

Staff need to operate, think and behave in a very different way when working in agile teams. New found freedoms have new found responsibilities. Once a member of staff is given specific goals, they must decide where, when and how they are going to achieve these goals. To do this, they need to feel confident in their own abilities, be self-motivated and be able to self-manage, all the while offering high value and service to their clients or customers. Smart working is no longer about the number of hours worked but about achieving the output in the most timely and efficient way.

Orchard Training offers the people and soft skills and mind-sets that not only help staff get excited and motivated by the changes being implemented, so that they embrace them with positive enthusiasm, but also equip them with the skills and mind-set to be able to do their roles efficiently and effectively.

Go to Orchard Training for further details or contact me at jo@orchard-training.com to chat through your needs, and how Orchard Training could help your organisation.