Help! I’m hiring new staff and I want them to work adaptively!

This blog was originally posted on the USAID Learning Lab website.

You’re in luck! We just released a new guide for hiring adaptive employees. This visual and user-friendly tool will help increase your chances of selecting staff skilled in adaptive management.

Here are the details:

What do you mean by “work adaptively” or an “adaptive employee”? An adaptive employee is an individual who, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, systematically acquires and uses knowledge to make decisions and adjustments in their work in order to achieve greater impact.

Why focus on adaptive employees? Why does it matter? With industries, technologies, and organizations in a near constant state of flux, leaders are recognizing the importance of adaptability as a critical capacity. Because of this, it’s not surprising that a recent LinkedIn report found that adaptability was the most important soft skill hiring managers were screening for.

In addition, evidence shows that teams that apply more data-driven and adaptive leadership practices perform better than those that focus less on these practices. It makes sense, then, that managers want to recruit more team members who are skilled in adaptive management – it helps achieve results.

Who should use this tool? Anyone involved in hiring, responsible for developing or approving position descriptions, participating in interviews, and/or approving new hires.

When should I use this tool? Use it as soon as you decide to hire a new staff person or when you’re adjusting existing position descriptions.

What does the tool help me do? It will help you think through:

  • Which competencies should I recruit for in order to hire more adaptive employees?
  • Which desired qualifications should I incorporate into position descriptions to attract adaptive employees? (You can even copy and paste qualification language from the tool into scopes of work!)
  • Which interview questions should I ask to screen for adaptive employee competencies? (You can copy and paste interview questions into your screening, interview, and reference check protocols!)

Has the tool been tested? Yes, staff within USAID’s Global Development Lab and on the USAID LEARN contract tested the tool, providing feedback on the minimum viable product and subsequent versions. Testers confirmed finding the tool useful, and gave it a 9/10 score when asked if they would recommend it to colleagues. Some specific feedback from testers included: “The tool prompts deeper thought on what you might need and want in a job candidate” and “All [of the interview questions I used from the tool] worked well.”

What about the existing staff? How can they gain greater skills in adaptive management? Existing USAID staff and implementing partners can access online training in collaborating, learning, and adapting (CLA) and find resources in the CLA Toolkit. USAID staff also have access to an internal CLA community of practice and five-day, in-person CLA training. For more information, see page 13 in the tool.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Monalisa Salib is the Deputy Chief of Party for the USAID LEARN contract at Dexis Consulting Group. The contract is a multi-year effort to improve how USAID designs, learns from, and improves its development assistance. Ms. Salib has 14 years of experience in international development and has facilitated organizational change efforts within USAID and local organizations throughout the world in support of achieving better governance, education, and economic development outcomes. 

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