Learning Agility

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In times of change, employees must be more agile than ever. Adapting to new business strategies, working across cultures, dealing with temporary virtual teams and taking on new, unfamiliar assignments all demand that leaders be flexible and learning agile. 

With Harver’s Learning Agility Assessment, go further than simply assessing cognitive ability or personality and begin understanding how your candidates approach changing environments and problem solving. Individuals who are learning agile are able to quickly and accurately determine the best course of action when the “right” answer is not readily apparent. 

Candidate results are focussed on a candidate’s capability to swiftly adapt to changing environments, develop innovative solutions and make valuable decisions on the spot.

WIthin this article we will go through the basics of Learning Agility and break down how to understand results:

Learning Agility Explained

Learning Agility is the combination of motivation, being willing to face new and ambiguous situations by taking actions that help one to stay engaged, and the skill to discern quickly the consequences of these actions determining what to do next in order to continue to process the learning.

One’s willingness to take risks attempting to deal with a novel situation when not knowing exactly what to do? Coupled with risk-taking is seeking feedback on how one is doing regardless of who threatening this action might be to one’s self-esteem. 

Discerning whether what one has learned from experiences, how one thinks and behaves, is applicable to the new and different situation, and if not? What does one then do?

The Candidate Experience

Candidates go through a series of 38 questions where they are asked to indicate how often they engage in specific behaviors at work + a series of 100 questions where they are asked to indicate their preference to certain behaviors. 

In the first part of the assessment the candidate selects an answer on a seven-point Likert-style rating scale, answers ranging from “Never” to “Always”. In the second part, this is a five-point Likert scale.

Learning Agility Dimensions

Results are broken down into specific dimensions which all together make up a learning agile individual. 

Energy / Power

The energy and power of moving quickly and flexibly.

Speed: Acting on ideas quickly so that those not working are discarded and other possibilities are accelerated. 

Flexibility: Being open to new ideas and proposing new solutions. 

Focus

The level of learning energy someone brings into a novel situation. How willing are you to take risks when you don’t know what to do? How important is it to you?

Experimenting: Trying out behaviors (i.e. approaches, ideas) to determine what is effective.

Performance risk taking:  Seeking new activities (i.e., tasks, assignments, roles) that provide opportunities to be challenged. 

Interpersonal risk taking: Discussing differences with others in ways that lead to learning and change. 

Collaborating: Finding ways to work with others that generate unique opportunities for learning. 

Information gathering: Using various methods to remain current in one’s area of expertise.

Feedback seeking: Asking others for feedback on one’s ideas and overall performance. 

Reflecting: Slowing down to evaluate one’s own performance in order to be more effective. 

Personality

Someone’s preference and disposition to certain behavior has a positive impact on being Learning Agile. Having insights in these provides a more complete understanding of someone's learning style. Read in-depth about personality results here.

Imaginative: Tends to be curious and open to the unfamiliar.

Compromising: Tends to strive for consensus, and be mild and diplomatic in relation to others.

Hard-Working: Tends to be disciplined, organized and deliberate.

Thick-Skinned: Tends to be tough, carefree and fearless.

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The connection between Learning Agility and Cognitive Ability

Cognitive ability is an important aspect in relation to Learning Agility. Smarter does not necessarily mean more Learning Agile. But someone needs to have a certain level of Cognitive Ability in order to be able to be Learning Agile. Therefore the combination of a Learning Agility Assessment and a Cognitive Ability Test makes a powerful couple.

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