# 2 Hiring and Managing Talent in an Agile Culture

In the first part of “Human Factor of Agile – Are You Ready”, we discussed what it takes, from a people perspective, to become Agile. In this 2nd part, we delve deeper, and see how recruiting needs to evolve, for you to build an Agile organization.

 

In many ways agile can be considered a swift feedback control process. For recruiting that means: 1. validating with hiring managers on the quality before going too far 2. ensuring the interview team is aligned 3. gathering feedback from the interview team swiftly (and preferably in a same day team meeting, for accountability).

Who to attract for an Agile Organization?

Defining your perfect candidate is the most critical. When hiring for Agile, (or any hiring process) you need to go beyond skills and experiences. You need to define the ‘performance objectives’. List the non-negotiable behaviors that you want in the perfect hire and figure out who would this job excite? Lou Adler calls this the  Employee Value Proposition. What it is that you will bring to hire away someone from a job that they are pretty happy in – to one which offers them more of whatever it is that appeals to them (stretch, flexibility, title, salary, work life balance).

 

How to attract for an Agile Organization

Serenity Gibbons, in her article, How To Hire Like Google — And Why You Should says, rather than scribbling a job description, create a job advertisement. In the ad, in addition to the technical requirements “talk about the purpose and mission of your company, highlighting how the new employee will affect his or her peers, customers, and potentially the world.”

 

The right candidate for your team may not be found on Monster.com or Indeed.com; and chances are they are not applying for the jobs you are posting.

You are going to need to ‘fish’ for passive candidates. Use sources like LinkedIn,your employees’ networks or access the pipeline you’ve already been nurturing to find candidates who are not looking for a job right now but may be ready for the next step. Approach them with your awesome job ads. Start by adding a compelling tagline to your title, capture the ideal candidate’s primary reason for considering the job and appeal to their sense of adventure or desire ofr a challenge by listing the two or three biggest challenges they’ll need to resolve.

 

How to interview for an Agile Organization

Now that the candidate is interested – How do you assess the fit? McKinsey argues people who flourish in an agile organization need to handle ambiguity without losing focus; concentrate on outcomes over processes; and work and contribute as team members.

 

Cultural fit is another critical aspect for hiring for Agile. Google is the personification of culture interviews. And tons of books have been written about hiring for a culture fit. Here are some questions you can use to assess a culture fit.

 

Amazon incorporated their cultural values into their interview process. They identified people across the organization who were “Bar Raisers”. Every interview process had to include at least 1 Bar Raiser, who had ultimate veto power. Read more here.

 

What to look for?

Nadia Smith, of Sportsbet says: Hire for Agility rather than for Agile. What she is saying is: hiring for agility is hiring for mindset: attitude, skills, values and behaviors. “Find people with a “can do” attitude, who want to evolve, who show resilience, who embrace ambiguity, and have the desire to succeed. These people will evolve your Agile journey, enable growth and create success.”

 

In the HBR article “How to Hire” Patty McCord talks about how Netflix focusses on the way a candidate thinks rather than the right answer.

 

To summarize: When you are hiring for an Agile organization, remember the following:

  • Traits and behaviors are more critical than skills and experience
  • You may not find your candidate on job sites or your ATS
  • Your candidate is also your end customer. Tailor your process to meet (or exceed) their needs – candidate experience rules

Be nimble, adjust on the fly and sell the experience of being a part of what you stand for.