How to Find Agile Development Talent for Your Team
Hiring software developers who can bring speed and flexibility to your organisation is a hard task in the today’s booming IT market. It’s even harder to find and attract developers with a unique set of both technical and soft skills known as Agile talent.
In brief, ‘Agile talent’ refers to a professional who has the ability to learn quickly, transform what’s learnt into new methods and actions, and adapt efficiently to changing environments and circumstances. Agile talent is eager to innovate and reinvent the company from within that’s why they are the new must-have for lasting organisations.
Agile came about in 2001 when a group of software developers decided they needed a different workflow. They formulated the Agile Manifesto and defined four basic Agile values:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
Agile was introduced to the IT world as an alternative to the traditional “waterfall” approach to software development. Unlike Waterfall that is based on the command-and-control mindset, Agile focuses on continuous improvement, scope flexibility, team input, and delivering quality products.
Obviously, the new approach requires a whole different set of skills which should make recruiters shift their mindset and change hiring practices. Instead of choosing candidates based solely on technical knowledge, HR managers should look for developers whose level of expertise, work style and attitude reflect the Agile Manifesto.
No More Lone Wolves
The traditional notion of a software developer who’s a “lone wolf” working solo for hours to finish the project doesn’t work anymore. The tricky thing is to find developers with the adequate level of technical skills on one hand, and who are curious and highly collaborative on the other hand.
This combination of technical and soft skills is a must because the Agile approach requires a lot more interaction within the development team as well as between the development team and customers. This allows to develop and deliver a minimum viable product (MVP) much faster, change it if something doesn’t work, thus achieving greater speed, efficiency and lowering risks and chances of project failure.
Workplace Culture Change
After the Agile Manifesto became extremely popular, lots of companies decided to adopt Agile and its every ever-existed framework (Scrum, Extreme programming, etc). But as a result, many of them forgot the real meaning of Agile and became extremely dysfunctional.
Changing the mindset of the overall corporate culture is critical to attract, hire and retain Agile development talent. It starts with respect, collaboration, improvement, focus on delivering value, and the ability to adapt to change.
Moving towards the Agile mindset leads to shifting the unproductive vertical structure and decreasing the power struggle between employees and bosses. Agile enables a new ideology – no power games, only value that should be delivered to customers.
It’s also important to remember that the office environment should physically support Agile thinking. Engineers need a big quiet space where they can quickly pull together large groups for their stand-ups.
How to Find Agile Talent
When it comes to the hiring process, look for the technical skills and then move on to identifying the traits that fit within Agile. Make sure that the person’s portfolio demonstrates their communication skills, how well they have interacted with teams and customers (collaborative skills), and that they are able to respond positively to change.
Remember that you can always train for technical skills. But it’s hard to make someone be curious, collaborative or think critically. Pay attention to the candidate’s willingness to accept and embrace change as it’s critical for embracing the Agile mindset.