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Hiring Practices to Attract Top Agile Talent

As Part 2 of the blog series on Agile HR, we are going to discuss the nuances and techniques of hiring into an Agile organization. (Read Part 1: How to Get Hired at an Agile Company.) 

Hiring Practices to Attract Top Agile Talent

Why? Well, this Agile Transformation thing is tough; there is just no other way to put it. It’s expensive, disruptive, and comes with no guarantee we will be successful.

It’s also a necessity.

The reality is, if you don’t find a way to change the nature of the way you do business into one displaying a much greater degree of adaptability, the modern world of doing business will simply leave you behind; doesn’t matter how big you are or how long you’ve been around.

In order to make this possible, people have sacrificed the time and expenses to painstakingly make these adjustments and want to do everything they can to maintain the new culture they have begun to enjoy. One of the biggest impacting factors of whether you continue moving in this direction, or whether you waste your investment, often lies in the people you choose to bring into your organization and your approach as an organization to maintaining\retaining your people.

As an Agile organization, you have the people who worked so hard to help you create this new culture and have been on the journey through the ups and downs. They are most likely extremely sensitive to the work put in to what they now share a large degree of accountability for.

How do our hiring practices affect this new culture long term?

What practices should we employ in hiring to continue the journey in continual improvement and adaptability?

How do we attract the type of talent which will help propel us forward as opposed to send us backwards?

It starts with the first impression.

If you want great Agile people, it's important you don’t bill yourself as still operating in the dark ages. Try applying to a position in your own company. How long does it take? Was it an easy process? How many times were you asked for the same information in another location? Were you able to easily tie in social networks for additional information or to simplify the application process? Does your job description resemble a requirements document?

These are all things an Agile person looks for when applying to a company. They will realize that, if Agile methods and Lean concepts have made their way into Human Resources, more than likely this is an organization that either “gets it” or is well on their way and they want to be a part of it.

Once someone gets their foot in the door, how long and impactful is the interviewing process? Do we still employ two days of one-on-one interviews with a litany of data gathering afterwards or have we embraced small teams of fact-finders with quicker decision making?

What about simple onboarding?

Does someone get to an empty desk, or worse, a random corner cube because we couldn’t get our act together to make them feel welcome? Do they wait for days, or weeks, before finding out what their guiding light is? And once onboard, do we STILL wait a year or more before giving them feedback on how they are doing both personally and professionally?

These are all areas that an Agile organization has improved, streamlined and made it easy to get the right people fast and help them to provide value and enjoy their position as soon as possible.

If your answers to the above questions were met with mostly “No” or an eye roll and a smirk perhaps, then you have identified areas to start.

Here’s my last bit of advice on hiring Agile people: Don’t lie about where you are in your Agile journey.

There is little worse for an Agile person than to feel like you were told “this is an Agile company and we have been doing it for years”, only to find out they have been doing pseudo-Scrum for years…and not even that well. Be upfront, transparent; they will respect that honesty and it will speak to a culture of transparency.

Finding the right people to support your ongoing continual improvement in the Agile space is tough. You can hinder your improvement by bringing in people who call themselves Agile but have yet to truly grasp the mentality. Just as easily, you can hinder your own personal progress by getting into a company who “says” they’re Agile but really means they are “scrummy.”

Watch for the signs, be transparent, and continually improve.

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