The relationship between Learning Agility and performance
To what extent does measuring Learning Agility help us to predict the performance of professionals and leaders in the workplace?
Learning Agility can be defined as the ability to develop new, effective behaviour in the face of new experiences. Along with this comes the ability to be flexible, take on different viewpoints and successfully apply different approaches.
The measurement of Learning Agility is a value-add in both selection and development scenarios. Researchers have also discussed the value that it can add in terms of improving leadership effectiveness or classifying high potentials in the workplace.
We have been researching Learning Agility on a global scale since 2013. One of the first research questions that was posed is the relationship between Learning Agility and current performance.
Learning agility vs. competency-based performance
To answer this question, the Learning Agility data of individuals were analysed in relation to a 360 performance evaluation on competencies relevant to their current function. The type of performance evaluations spanned multiple different job roles and levels, ranging from consultants, sales managers and cashiers to secretaries, engineers and directors, thus ensuring a very large and very diverse data set. A correlation analysis was conducted to investigate the relationship between Learning Agility and performance.
A strong, positive correlation of 0.37 was found between Learning Agility and performance. This means that higher scores on Learning Agility are related to higher performance outcomes. Expanding on the analysis, the underlying dimensions of Learning Agility were also investigated in relation to performance, with Change and Results Agility being the two factors that correlated most strongly with performance; 0.34 and 0.38 respectively. The other factors were also found to be correlated with performance, but not as strongly.
Performance of leaders
Given that Learning Agility is considered a crucial skill for leaders, the study was refined and the dataset narrowed to include only those individuals in management or leadership positions. The results were even more significant than the general analysis discussed above. For overall Learning Agility, a correlation of 0.44 with performance was found. Results Agility was shown to be most relevant for strong performance within this group, with a strong, positive correlation of 0.52.
Learning Agility = data driven decisions about change
The results above suggest that Learning Agility is more than just a theoretical construct that speaks to change. It demonstrates a strong, positive relationship with workplace performance, especially amongst leaders.
The message to take from this is that, not only can Learning Agility be measured, it should be measured and should form part of organisation-wide recruitment, development and succession planning initiatives. Understanding the agility of leaders and teams within organisations not only relates to their performance down the line, but also impacts how they will lead the business into a future fueled by change and complexity.