There has been a big culture change in business practice in recent years which has seen a growing number of companies reject traditional business methodologies in favour of agile working. Rather than focusing on processes and regulations, agile working focuses on performance and outcomes, and empowers employees to work where, when and how they want in order to achieve the best results.
The idea behind this methodology is that it can lead to greater efficiencies, improved productivity, innovation opportunities, satisfied customers and happy, fulfilled employees. And although first popularised by IT and software companies, agile working is now gaining traction in many other business sectors.
As well as a change in ethos, this move to agile working is also triggering a significant shift in the perception of managerial roles, with companies increasingly looking for agile leaders rather than more traditional top-down managers. So what does this change in management style mean in practice?
Change of Structure and Focus
Rather than a top-down chain of command, agile working places the customer at the top of the organisational chart. This means that instead of managing the behaviour and performance of the people below them, the role of agile leaders is to help and support employees to keep the company’s customers satisfied.
One of the key differences between traditional managers and agile leaders is how they manage people. Traditionally, a company or team’s lowest performers are given the most attention and supervision. Agile methodology turns this on its head, encouraging managers to focus their time and efforts on the highest performers instead with the aim of spurring them on to make even greater achievements. Those who continue to perform poorly must either up their game or leave the organisation.
Agile working is all about making processes leaner and more efficient, with the aim of eliminating waste and providing the greatest possible value to the end customer. This is achieved by eliminating what are seen to be unnecessary processes – a significant departure from traditional management which tends to create and follow processes for any number of business tasks.
Flexibility is one of the core tenets of agile working and comes in a number of different forms. Instead of being restricted by specific job descriptions, workers are instead encouraged to explore and reach their full potential. The traditional 9-5 working day is also in the firing line, with flexible hours, remote working and hot desking the order of the day. This kind of working is not always easy to implement but with the right technology, employee involvement and the provision of innovative storage solutions, such as secure smart lockers, it can be hugely beneficial to businesses and employees alike.
Although there are some clear differences between the two, agile working doesn’t necessarily mean the end for traditional managers. There will still be companies who prefer to stick to the traditional ways of doing things. However it certainly marks a significant shift in workplace culture, and as the benefits of agile methodology continue to be felt, we’re likely to see a growing number of managers embracing leaner and more flexible ways of working.