Getting Workforce Agility

Workforce Agility is often defined as the ability of employees to respond strategically to uncertainty. But what does that really mean? Considering that Harvard Business Press states that 90% of effective strategies fail do to poor execution, than responding strategically might not be the right answer if you’ve misinterpreted what the right strategy is. Where does speed come into play? And what does it take to get Workforce Agility?


The power of moving quickly and easily; nimbleness, and or the ability to think and draw conclusions quickly; intellectual acuity. So it’s both physical & mental. But what about Emotional Agility? It’s basic biology, but also the hardest to master.

All healthy human beings have an inner stream of thoughts and feelings that include criticism, doubt, and fear. That’s just our minds doing the job they were designed to do: trying to anticipate and solve problems and avoid potential pitfalls. Ample research shows that attempting to minimize or ignore thoughts and emotions serves only to amplify them, therefore Emotional Agility is being able to embrace those negative thoughts, understand where they’re coming from, frame them into the context of the situation you’re in and then respond in a noon emotional state, but from a logical state.In neuroscience that’s called listening to your Reptilian & Mammalian (Limbic System) brain, but then processing & acting based on having it filtered through your Neo-Cortex & Pre-Frontal Cortex (Frontal Lobe) brain.

Therefore Workforce Agility starts with physical, mental / intellectual & emotional nimbleness. But it doesn’t stop there, for that will only mainly address the speed vs. uncertainty aspect. How about the strategic aspect?

Strategic Agility

Understanding that all healthy human beings have an inner stream of thoughts and feelings, including criticism, doubt, and fear, it can be said that based on our past experiences we create our own unique & individual bias.  This bias will affect how we interpret what we hear, “interpret” being the key word in this phrase. Making the right interpretation of what we’re hearing is called effective communication.

In simple terms, effective is doing the right things, whereas efficient is doing things right. Ideally we want to match the two & do the right things right, therefore attaining effectiveness efficiently. But if I had to choose, I’d rather do the right thing and compromise doing it right vs doing the wrong thing right. Make sense? In order to get the best results from any strategy, we have to execute both effectively & efficiently.

If you have effective communication, and agility in your workforce, then you will have physical, mental / intellectual & emotional agile effectiveness efficiently. Doing the right things right for the right reasons in a right way.

A Perfect Storm

Workforce Agility Perfect StormWhen you add Accountability (Engagement) to the mix of doing the right things right for the right reasons in a right way, then you have the perfect storm. In a previous post, I wrote about the equation of Communication + Engagement = Accountability. When you have people holding themselves accountable to doing the right things right for the right reasons in a right way because they’re engaged due to your communication, this is my definition of Workforce Agility.

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