Being a large corporation with deep pockets and abundant resources used to be quite advantageous. They had an easy time attracting top talent because everyone dreamed of being employed by them and they had big budgets to support their benefits programs. But those days are behind us – largely because we’re now living in an exponential age where rapid growth and agility mean much more. Corporate mission and vision statements have lost their ability to motivate and retain talent. Today, it’s about a massively transformative purpose that facilitates the acquisition and retention of quality of talent. And, it’s about having an agile talent management strategy that compliments your business goals and purpose.

Large corporations that were traditionally seen as the talent market’s most desired place to work at are now having a hard time competing because they aren’t agile enough with their talent management approach and strategies. Much has to do with their rigid and dated processes, but it’s also their inability to adapt to the digital age – in fact the Exponential Age. The present exponentially growing times demands HR to move faster than ever before and adapt to the business’s dynamic pace and agility. Far more significant is the need to have agility in talent management strategies to keep up with the speed of changes experienced by the talent market. Companies that have embraced this fact have gained an edge over their competitors who’ve been slower to adapt – or you could say who’ve been less agile.

What is Agility in Talent Management?

The days of traditional, fixed HR strategies and budgets are fast becoming ineffective and irrelevant. Agile talent management approaches require strategies to constantly and rapidly shift in order to better address changing needs of the talent market. Basically what that means is that a strategy that’s implemented at the start of the year may become irrelevant at the end of the first quarter due to the changing dynamics of the talent market. Along with this your agile talent management strategy should be scalable and flexible to handle higher or lower volumes of work. Your cost structure and talent pool should be able to shift up or down to meet the expectations and needs of the “new normal” work levels.

As an example, when unemployment rates are high it’s fairly easier to recruit and retain talent because of the abundance of talent available and fewer job options. Hence, during such times you may consider applying fewer HR resources to achieve the same results. An agile talent management strategy is necessary to manage such changes.

The Factors That Impact Your Talent Management Strategy?

To develop an effective agile talent management strategy you’ll need to keep a pulse on the environment in order to have an appropriate response. Here are some factors that you should be observing.

1. Your Business Strategies

Above all other factors the most important to keep an eye on (and an ear open to) is your own business’s strategies and direction. That means understanding what their resource needs are, how they’re impacted by internal and external forces and what that translates to in terms of resource volumes and levels.

2. Competitors’ Strategies

Observing what your competitors are planning is probably quite obvious. But to truly have an effective agile talent management strategy you’ll need to know about their expansion plans, changes in leadership, their talent bench strength, hiring trends and strategies, turnover, and even changes in their brand image.

3. Changes in Talent Market

Manage your strategies by monitoring changes in the talent market’s salary expectations, shortage of talent, company loyalty trends, new HR technologies and the demand for innovators.

4. Changing Local and Global Economics

Your business is deeply impacted by changes in economic factors, which is why it’s important to stay updated on these indicators. Fluctuations in the stock market, foreign exchange, consumer price indexes, interest rates and unemployment rates are all valuable indicators that steer your talent management approach.

How To Develop an Agile Talent Management Strategy

So you’ve got an eye out on the factors that can impact your talent management approach, but how do you actually implement such a strategy? Here are a few key components to consider when developing a strategy.

1. Consider all Growth Scenarios

When you plan your growth trajectory each year you produce a budget and capacity required to achieve your annual goals. But realistically achieving those goals are dependent on external and internal variables that may or may not be in your control. Hence, your plan should be holistic in that it takes into consideration all growth scenarios – i.e. slow/no-growth, rapid and retrenchment/cost-cutting. A plan that’s developed with all growth scenarios in mind gives you realistic options that can be activated based on the scenario the company experiences.

2. Be Flexible Within

Applying a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t typically the best and appropriate method. Your plan should be able to have the capability and flexibility to be applied differently within the company. That means not all functions and business units may have to adopt a particular approach or strategy. Hence, you may find that while one business unit’s growth is slow another’s may be rapid. The talent management strategies that you choose to apply to them may well be varied.

3. Reduce Bureaucracy

Nothing diminishes agility of a company more than deep bureaucracy and red tape. In order to promptly react to the rapidly changing environment you’ll need to be nimble, flexible and fast. To deliver on speed you need faster decision making.

4. Build Capacity

A solid agile talent management strategy considers the strengths of the current talent pool and designs ways of best exploiting their capabilities and skills. That’s why building capacity within the company by cross-training, identifying high potentials and successors for critical positions is key to the overall plan.

5. Identity Metrics

Thresholds and metrics are important for a well-defined agile talent management strategy as they’ll help you choose the appropriate course of action. Consider approaching this with the “if-then” mindset and define key agility indicators and metrics that can help you monitor your progress and keep you on track for your overall goals and plans.

6. Build Capabilities

So you have a plan that’s agile and dynamic, but you’ll have a hard time implementing it if you don’t bring on board the relevant stakeholders and functions who will execute it. Being prepared is key here and hence you’ll have to build capabilities across all functions throughout the company to be able to move fast when the need arises. That’s when you know that a shift in the growth scenario will activate the right response across all functions to alter their approach and execute the alternative plan that was agreed upon.

Companies today are operating in an exponential age where change is rapid and innovation is continuous and relentless. It’s demanding companies and leaders to be nimble, flexible, attentive and agile. And if we’re to succeed in the era of massive and rapid growth we’ll need an agile talent management strategy that can strengthen our abilities and propel our growth.