Learning Agility: Changing roles in a changing business environment


Learning Agility: Changing roles in a changing business environment

The need for rapid change is impacting both job roles and organisations. We look at three industries and the effects of these changes...

Change-readiness and Learning Agility plays an integral role in the building of a 5-10 year talent pipeline in conditions where it’s not clear how the business and the roles within it will evolve.

Let’s take a look into how the need for rapid change is affecting organisations in the industries of Finance, Sales and IT.

Finance: From brick-and-mortar to virtual

Finance is the field that is undergoing the most rapid change when compared to other sectors, such as IT, media and energy (ref: World Economic Forum).

Banks and financial institutions are moving away from physical branches toward virtual banking portals, with artificial intelligence driving further change.

These very large organisations are faced with the dilemma of a completely new set of roles being defined, with an urgent need to transition employees from the present role-set to the new one.

Sales: From once-off sales to ongoing customer experience

Within the sales industry, the focus has shifted from an environment driven by new deals to one that is driven by customer experience. In fact, top performing organisations have started measuring customer experience as their most important sales KPI (ref: State of Sales).

In order to measure all touchpoints of the customer journey, companies have started onboarding big data analytics and other technology-driven initiatives. The successful rollout of these are integral to providing customers with a personalised sales experience across different channels.

To be successful in this changing environment, sales professionals need to be agile enough to adopt the new technologies, as well as take on multiple roles - those of networker (establishing relationships), deal closer (harnessing relationships) and cultivator (maintaining relationships).

IT: From traditional to Agile methodologies

The landscape of IT has shifted from a waterfall process - tackling projects in sequential, structured stages - to an agile methodology where scrum teams focus on an iterative process with continuous innovation and feedback.

Agile means change at all levels of the organisation. A shift from the traditional to the new ways of work within IT means that team members need to adapt to the requirements of new roles that have never existed before.

In addition, the leaders who drive these shifts in team structure need to take on the role of change agents to ensure that the corporate culture, values and mission adapt to the new structure and that their employees continue to drive effective performance in the business.

The common denominator in managing change

The problem faced across different industries is the need to effectively onboard new, intelligent technologies, while effectively planning for new roles or changes to existing roles.

The common denominator in tackling this issue is to examine the Learning Agility, change-readiness and learning styles of employees on an individual level, and to then collate this information into team and organisational insights. These results will guide decision-making and the strategic talent pipeline to ensure that employees meet the demands placed upon them.

The value of Learning Agility in supporting rapidly changing roles

Learning Agility is the ability to develop new, effective behaviour based on new experiences. A high score on Learning Agility means that people have the ability to incorporate new behaviours into their current skill set quickly and efficiently, while at the same time unlearning ineffective skills with the same efficiency and speed.

Understanding the Learning Agility of new hires and existing employees is the critical component to be able to deal with changing environments and changing roles.

Learning agility is used to:

  • Identify which employees are able to make the role transitions required for the business to stay relevant;
  • Determine who within the team will change more readily and who will resist change;
  • Highlight the individuals who can be considered change agents, and who can actively drive and manage changes amongst the team; and
  • Gain insight into the learning styles that are most effective for different employees.


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