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How agile helps attract and retain millennial tech pros

Sharon Florentine | June 8, 2016
IT organizations are in search of talent, but they are finding that the agile methodology is great for attracting and retaining the next generation of engineers and developers.

Team-building exercise

Another important characteristic of agile and scrum is the focus on self-organizing and self-regulating teams. Most engineers and developers, especially millennials, relish the freedom to choose which parts of projects they want to work on, and when to do so. The flexibility of agile and scrum allows engineers to take on new and challenging tasks and to add new skills and knowledge, Irani says.

"Millennials don't do well under an authoritarian system where they're told what to do, or if their ability to try new things - and even to fail at them before they succeed - is hampered. Professional development is very important to this generation, and agile's focus on iteration and constant adaptation is a perfect fit," he says.

Agile and scrum allows IT organizations and software companies to build a great professional environment around iteration, autonomy, mastery and purpose, says Scrum.org's West. That results are not only an increased ability for innovative organizations to attract great millennial talent, but to retain it for the long term.

"Scrum and agile encourage people to stay because the methodologies focus on growth and adaptability. You try something, do something, learn from it, adapt to it and then repeat for continuous improvement not just of the project, but of the work environment. It's an environment you build yourself in response to clear business objectives and some very loose compliance and governance requirements, and that really helps retain talent," West says.

The team-building aspect is another contributing factor in higher retention levels, West says. Because agile and scrum teams are self-selecting and self-organizing, they tend to become very close-knit and will move seamlessly from one project to another, he says.

"Really, teams become families, and they become really interdependent, in a good way. When you get the synergies of a team right, they work effectively, they rely on each other, they're accountable to each other. And they tend to hang out together outside of work, too - that connection is so powerful, no one wants to let others on their team down, so they tend to stick around, together," he says.

The other side of agile

Of course, the flip side is that when one team member does decide to leave a company, it often results in a huge blow to morale on the remaining team members - or, worse, leads to the exodus of an entire team, West says, and that's definitely a risk. Of course, the benefits of agile and scrum and of building cohesive, highly productive development teams make it a risk well worth taking, especially if the alternative is the inability to attract and retain engineers at all, says cPrime's Irani.

 

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