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How People Analytics Can Help Agile Teams Work Effectively

Agile teams
Agile collaboration has grown more vital than ever before as a result of increased unpredictability creating a more turbulent corporate environment. However, although these techniques seem to be beneficial in principle, many businesses find it difficult to efficiently implement them into their operations.


In a corporate climate characterized by increasing volatility, uncertainty, expanding complexity, and ambiguous information (VUCA), agile collaboration is more important than ever. Market trends and competitive risks must be monitored constantly by organizations, which must identify necessary expertise and build and dissolve teams promptly to evidence-based effectively address such concerns. The problem is that these cross-functional groups often run against mismatched incentives, hierarchical decision-making, and cultural rigidities, resulting in either a halt in progress or no activity at all.

Examine the case study of a Connected Commons member organization that discovered a ground-breaking audio/visual technology that would not only distinguish the organization in current channels but also had the potential to open up totally new markets for the organization. The CEO hailed it as a watershed moment in the company's development and launched a cross-functional effort comprised of more than 100 senior workers to expand its distribution channels. However, sadly, the pace of advancement has not kept pace with expectations.

Employees that were allocated to the endeavor found it difficult to find the time to complete the assignments. They often lacked an understanding of the expertise or values of other roles, and they pushed for their evidence-based ideas with excessive zeal. The demands of external stakeholders caught the organization off guard on many different occasions. However, despite the high exposure of the project, its essential purpose, and the use of cutting-edge technology, the organization was ultimately hampered when it came to agile cooperation. This is not a one-of-a-kind tale.

The fact that work is done via cooperation through networks of connections, which do not always correspond to formal reporting structures or regular work procedures, is a key contributor to the issue. Intuitively, we understand that the collaborative intensity of work has increased dramatically, and that partnerships are essential to agility. However, most firms do not handle internal cooperation well, and they mistakenly believe that technology or formal org charts would result in more agility.These efforts frequently fail due to a lack of informal networks—for example, employees who share an interest in a technological innovation such as artificial intelligence or a passion for environmental sustainability—who can act as a link between the organization's entrepreneurial and operational systems by introducing cutting-edge ideas to those with the resources to experiment with and implement them.

In the study of the Institute for Corporate Productivity, the authors look at agility not as a general concept, but rather as a specific point of execution, when teams are working on new products, strategic projects, or engaging with high-profile customers. Also, these points of execution are critical for enterprises, but they all suffer from inefficiencies if they are not managed as a network of interconnected nodes. By conducting network surveys, which were completed by more than 30,000 workers across a diverse variety of worldwide enterprises, the data scientists were able to identify these strategically essential groupings. These are vast amounts of data.

In addition, they conducted hundreds of interviews with employees and executives from these organizations. As a result, they discovered that agility at the point of execution is typically created through group-level networks, such as account or new product development teams comprised of employees from across the organization, lateral networks across core work processes, temporary teams and task forces formed to drive a critical organizational change or respond to a strategic threat, and communities of practice that allow organizations to reap the true benefits of scale. These and other lateral networks provide agility when they are nurtured along four dimensions: 1) managing the center of the network, 2) engaging the fringe, 3) bridging select silos, and 4) leveraging boundary spanners. These and other lateral networks provide agility when they are nurtured along four dimensions: Leaders that cultivate their internal networks in this manner get greater results in all areas of their organizations, including financial, strategic, and talent-related outcomes. Here's how it's done:

People Networks at Work


Taking care of the network's “nerve center”


When agility is examined through the perspective of a network, it becomes clear that cooperation is never spread equitably. It is often noticed that just 3-5 percent of people are responsible for valuable collaborations, with 20-35 percent of beneficial partnerships coming from them. Despite the fact that they are at their wits' end, these individuals become unduly reliant on them and tend to impede group reaction as a result. These employees are far more likely to burn out and quit the firm, resulting in network gaps that subsequently represent another obstacle to organizational agility. Senior executives must examine if overburdening the network's core would make agile cooperation impossible, as well as:

  • Encourage workers who are feeling overloaded to re-distribute collaborative work in collaboration with their superiors. According to groundbreaking research from the Institute for Corporate Productivity, companies with high employee performance are three times more likely than those with poor performance to acknowledge and alter collaborative expectations in this manner.

  • Understand how workers got up in the focus of attention – and whether it was as a consequence of their official position or personal traits, take the remedial steps required to minimize overstimulation. Simple changes in a few habits, for example, may result in an increase of 18-24 percent in the amount of time available for cooperation. The following are examples of such behaviors: organizing meetings more effectively, building a productive environment of email usage, limiting time in calendars for reflective work, negotiating role expectations, and avoiding triggers that cause us all to leap into projects or meetings when we shouldn't.

  • Create a map of the interdependencies across various teams to which your core people participate in order to better identify and prepare for any dangers. When a star is at the core of numerous projects, an unexpected shock in one team might have far-reaching consequences that extend well beyond the team that was shocked. Make certain that team leaders have a backup plan in place to deal with these situations.

Including the network's fringe players in the conversation


When it comes to understanding VUCA challenges and determining what types of specialists are required to address them, agility necessitates the integration of several competencies and viewpoints. Those who have a different perspective on the world or who are new to a group, on the other hand, often find themselves in the periphery of the network. While people in the center may be over-reliant on them, those on the periphery are often underutilized in a manner that hinders dynamic cooperation. For example, according to the findings, it might take three to five years for a novice to achieve the level of connectedness that a high performer has. One evidence-based study also reveals that if an experienced recruit is not incorporated into significant tasks during the first year, he or she is at considerable danger of departing before reaching the three-year mark. Few firms, however, have the luxury of time.

Making people trust fringe colleagues is critical to enlist their cooperation in agile collaboration efforts. When you have a thorough recruiting, promotion, and application tracking procedure in place, their expertise isn't typically in dispute; the challenge is convincing others to trust their motivations ("Will he take unfair credit?" or "Will she walk away with my clients?") when just a few colleagues can attest to their character. The following activities by senior management may be used to assist in the situation:

  • Create a "hidden gems" program to assist in the identification of high-potential but underappreciated specialists who might relieve some of the pressure on overburdened primary players. This kind of conduct may be modeled by designating an up-and-coming employee to co-lead a high-profile program, for example.

  • Assist individuals working on the periphery in generating "pull" for their efforts when taking business decisions. This group of individuals must be reconized as a strategic resource who may be drawn into possibilities rather than being forced to impart their knowledge to others throughout the network. To do this, it is necessary to establish mutual value and to match capabilities from the periphery to requirements throughout the network.

  • Staffing or mentorship might be used to connect newbies with network influencers. When compared to individuals who do not have this experience, this simple activity increases newcomer connection and employee engagement by a factor of three.

  • Create HR metrics that are inclusive and trustworthy to encourage agile collaboration. When workers do not feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, a culture of fear may develop, and those on the periphery may be less confident in contributing to the organization. High-performing firms, who use human resource analytics, are 2.5 times more likely than low-performing organizations to promote a culture of safe communication.

Creating a Link Between Selected Silos


Organizations spanning functions, expertise, geography, level, and cultures — whether occupational or national – grappled with silos that cut across functions, expertise, geography, level, and culture. Instead of inefficiently bridging all silos, the network lens may assist the HR team in identifying particular locations that, if bridged, might result in increased agility advantages. Often, this entails bringing together employees from various divisions or locations who are engaged in comparable work to reap the advantages of scale, or discovering areas where merging multiple viewpoints results in more agile innovation. 

Because it deals with higher-value issues, this sort of interdisciplinary cooperation generates more revenues and profits than other types of collaboration. Experts must be motivated to participate in agile collaboration since it demands them not only to recognize and value information from other silos but also to be prepared to relinquish some control and autonomy over the direction of the project. Senior leaders may aid in the motivation of specialists by taking the following steps:

  • Set precise objectives and recognize and reward agile teamwork. According to the findings, as compared to the businesses with lower-performing talent management, high-performance firms are three to five times more likely to encourage cooperation, hence inspiring individuals to work across silos. The researches into firms that use peer feedback to effectively identify and celebrate agile collaborators have revealed that these bottom-up processes frequently uncover excellent people who would otherwise go unnoticed by formal performance management reviews. We believe that this is because peer feedback is a powerful HR tool for identifying and celebrating agile collaborators. People analytics tools, such as Pavooq, can help with this.
  • To unleash the potential for agile collaboration, use data science, and enable hr analytics capabilities to identify where silos exist and how they may be overcome. In one research, there were discovered inconsistencies in the links between headquarters and affiliates, as well as a lack of coordination between engineering and sales teams. This realization resulted in the creation of a business case for hosting brainstorming sessions to strengthen human resources management and increase communication. In addition to being more precise and less biased than depending on human impressions, a big data-driven approach more effectively displays the measurable benefits of collaborative innovation.

  • With the help of workforce analytics tools identify specialists who are dispersed across silos and important crossroads in the organization to facilitate agile cooperation. To facilitate the sharing of skills and resources, "communities of practice" or business development initiatives should be established. Several business service businesses, for example, are encouraging individuals who serve consumers in related sectors, such as insurance or biotech, to get together informally and exchange ideas and leads about their respective industries. The well-connected serve as conduits between and among silos. It has been beneficial for some HR professionals to entrust high-potential individuals with the responsibility of following the expanding expertise in neighboring divisions, which must be a dynamic process rather than a static knowledge store. These people should be commended for discovering chances to use cross-silo expertise in their work environments. Exchange programs and rotational programs might also be beneficial in this situation.

Crossing the Lines of External Boundaries

Employees who understand their organization's place in the larger ecosystem and who are constantly scanning the market for market changes that provide either risks or opportunities are more likely to flourish in agility. Obtaining dynamic information about external entities like rivals, consumers, regulators, and expertise groups or organizations is required to do. Those who can bridge the gap between internal and external actors can address challenges in novel ways because they have access to information from both of these realms simultaneously. They may also support agile collaboration by effectively combining divergent ideas and developing multi-stakeholder solutions; but, to do so, they must be appropriately empowered, managed, and resourced. Following are some examples of how senior managers may assist with this:

  • Identify and seek the assistance of boundary spanners to assist in the resolution of difficult challenges. People who are connected to the organization's ecosystem may suggest ideas that can be executed realistically because they have access to the shortest informational channels in the network and validity in the larger ecological context.

  • By creating forums or special events that bring together important individuals from throughout the ecosystem, you may foster connections and encourage the flow of knowledge. This method assists you in increasing the number of individuals in your company who are capable of serving as a link between internal and external parties, as well as providing insights into the pain points and possibilities in the ecosystem.

  • Increase the amount of time you spend connecting with external stakeholders. Customers, suppliers, regulatory agencies, and professional associations are all examples of external stakeholders that high-performing firms are 2.5 times more likely to promote engagement with than low-performing organizations. Workers who are well-connected internally should be required to work on external connections, and those who are well-connected externally should coach younger employees in networking to guarantee border bridging.

Business leaders that manage these collaborative players as a network will be more nimble and responsive to their customers. Although agile collaboration necessitates the ongoing re-evaluation of complicated challenges, it is feasible for enterprises to mix and recombine key knowledge from across points in the network to manage VUCA concerns. HR leaders may more effectively and efficiently access the required depth of knowledge of key collaborators within the business by cultivating agile collaboration consistently in their HR process with the help of new HR management software, such as Slack analytics platform, like Pavooq.