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How do you make agile working part of an organisation’s culture?

Tracy Hurst

To review the original article click here 11th Jul 2017

I recently had the opportunity to speak in Belfast at an internal leadership event for Invest Northern Ireland, where the team were contemplating exactly how you make agile working part of an organisation’s culture, as they embarked on this new - and somewhat daunting - journey. As part of our exchange, I was keen to share with them the key learning’s that our colleagues at Alexander Mann Solutions actively promote to make agile working work for us. And I am glad to share them with you now too.

Agile environments by their very nature have a number of traits – often conflicting priorities, the need for swift problem solving and the ability to take pragmatic yet compliant approaches to getting things done. Add in flexible and then virtual working and it is interesting to reflect on what works well for our people in such an environment. Here’s what I discussed with the group.

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Trust
Trusting your instinct and experience. And more importantly, the need to trust those around you. Both form part of what it takes to operate seamlessly in an agile working environment, where there can often be conflicting priorities and the need to ‘pull together’ to make things happen.

As a manager your team needs to trust that you have their best interests at heart and that you can understand and promote their individual talents when new assignments come up. Colleagues too trust that rules of engagement are being followed and that support will be given wherever it is needed whether with a long-term project or with a quick scenario needing guidance.

Relationships
Our organisation is often referred to by those we work with as having the feel of a family. Having supportive relationships as well as the openness to share and learn lessons that will enable high performance are two factors which I believe lead to this view.

Technology is a significant enabler of this for us. We are a globally dispersed team and staying in touch with ease enables collaboration and for us to actively stay connected and not accidentally adopt and ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality. My instant messenger is lighting up with a message from Cleveland, Ohio as I type this.

Leadership
I believe that our people demonstrate awareness that leadership is not about knowing all of the answers or about being the boss but that it is about doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching. And this trait of integrity of leadership stands out to me at Alexander Mann Solutions. Quite simply, we are all leaders, at every level.

When the chips are down and we need to prioritise particularly effectively I believe that our customer first approach keeps us flexible and nimble, and our willingness to listen actively to each other helps us to be successful in this.

I am proud of our agile working environment at Alexander Mann Solutions. That said we face plenty of challenges not least the need to continuously learn lessons and adapt with the accelerating pace of change in economies around the world. For me, the key enablers of our agile environment are trust, relationships and leadership.

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