Talent Management Agility: A Business and Human Resources Imperative

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Author: Nick Horney | Source: HCI | Published: January 4, 2016

This is the era of Uber. Airbnb. TaskRabbit. Handy. All of these firms are examples of the “gig economy,” and human resources (HR) professionals are being pressed to update their approach to talent management as a result.

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The gig economy will continue placing pressure on HR leaders, HR policies and HR processes to become more agile so that they can accommodate the kind of turbulence now being created by contingent workers as a growing element of their talent pool. Not only is it an HR imperative, Talent Management Agility is a Business Imperative.

The word “gig” has its origins in the music industry and now can be applied to all sorts of part-time employment: adjunct professors, management consultants, lawyers, doctors, farm managers, architects, street vendors, barbers, auto mechanics, landscapers, cab drivers, caregivers, truck drivers and more.

Most organizations have embraced the need to effectively identify their key talent who will enable them to thrive into the future. Many conferences, articles and books have been focused on the contribution of key talent identified and developed through a rigorous process of talent management.

Since 2001, I’ve had the opportunity within my firm, Agility Consulting, to explore solutions in this space. Specifically, we’ve found that combining scenario planning with talent management to be an effective approach. It helps leaders to consider alternative scenarios when an organization executes its talent review process. We refer to that process as Talent Management Agility™, reflecting its foundation in the fundamental principles of agility as they apply to the talent review process.

Those agility principles are presented in The AGILE Model® and include the  5 major drivers of agility:

  1. Anticipate Change
  2. Generate Confidence
  3. Initiate Action
  4. Liberate Thinking
  5. Evaluate Results

All five of these principles should help guide an organization’s talent management process, especially now as the gig economy expands its impact on all organizations. Now more than ever before, organizations need to proactively manage their talent pools with the realization that talent includes a portfolio of workers who are not all full-time employees.

Learn more: Agile Talent Strategies for Managing Change and Shifting Priorities

As HR professionals scan the business environment to anticipate change, they will find that many millennials enjoy the diversity of work that they can have through contingent work arrangements at multiple organizations.  When HR looks internally at its workforce, it will most likely find more contingent workers in technology-related functions than ever before.  

How HR becomes more agile and helps its organization’s management to become more agile will be one of the key challenges presented by the gig economy during the next decade.

HR professionals can apply The AGILE Model® to help build a talent management process that is characterized by agility in this gig economy. Here are some concrete ways to go about doing that:

  1. Identify the current talent portfolio, being sure to include both your full-time and contingent workers. 
  2. Collaborate with internal organizational leaders to determine the talent portfolio that will be demanded under a number of business scenarios.
  3. Modify current HR programs, processes, or policies to be more agile to adjust and adapt to the demands of the gig economy and other aspects of the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) business environment.
  4. Select and develop high-potential talent, regardless of whether a full-time employee or contingent worker.
  5. Build project management agility into the set of core competencies of leaders and workers.

This list is not, of course, all inclusive. But The AGILE Model® provides a framework through which leaders can start thinking about making their talent management functions more agile.

And given the VUCA nature of the business environment, leaders who proactively consider disruptive trends like those posed by the gig economy will be the ones who thrive. Plan to attend The Human Capital Institute Summit (New Orleans, March 29-30) to hear senior Human Resource Executives discuss why Talent Management Agility is both a Business and Human Resources Imperative (Human Capital Institute Summit 2016).