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Agility is the key to workplace engagement and boosts individual and team performance

New research finds that team agility drives performance and engagement and identifies six key factors that comprise team agility.

Team agility drives both team and individual performance, as well as workplace engagement, new research has revealed.

The study identified six interdependent factors that comprise team agility – multi-skilled teams; iterative planning; customer involvement; team autonomy; team speed and team prioritisation. Only when a team achieves a blend of all six, can they be defined as truly agile.

The research project – led by a team from AMBS (Prof David Holman, Dr Kara NgProf Sheena Johnson & Prof Robin Martin) and Simon Hayward CEO at Cirrus – polled more than 500 people in large organisations pre-and-post-COVID to understand how organisational characteristics influence team agility.

Dr Simon Hayward, CEO of Cirrus, honorary professor at Alliance Manchester Business School, and author of The Agile Leader, said: “Team agility drives workplace performance overall and at an individual level, as well as improving engagement. If leaders can facilitate agile team practices and encourage clear, ongoing dialogue between employees, they can build a strong foundation for success – whether they work from an office location, work remotely or create a hybrid of the two.”

David Holman, professor of organisational psychology at Alliance Manchester Business School added: “Empowering leadership and strong relationships between senior management and team members both increase team agility so investing in such leadership capabilities will improve team performance, transform culture and future-proof businesses.”

The study also found that team agility was robust to the impact of changes brought about by the pandemic shift to working from home. People could still work in an agile way at home which had minimal effect on productivity and team cohesion.

According to the data, 80% of people in the sample were able to maintain or improve productivity when working at home. This suggests that team agility may have helped organisational resilience and adaptation to change during the pandemic, and agile team processes are effective when workforces are dispersed.

Respondents stated that throughout the pandemic, maintaining increased high-quality team interaction with both supervisors and colleagues was also central to sustaining team agility.

Importantly, the research also revealed that for one in five participants, care responsibilities during the pandemic have had a negative impact on their performance. Therefore, it is crucial for organisations to identify employees who may be struggling to work from home and to ensure that team leaders and supervisors are in regular contact with their teams to offer the support that’s required.