Career Sprints: Using Agile Development Methods to Foster Employee Development

Workday was founded on the belief that happy and engaged employees lead to happy customers and stellar business results.

Now, we’re taking that idea even further with our biggest effort yet to put our most valuable resource, Workday employees, at the center of their own career journeys.

As I previously shared, we’ve embarked on a new Performance Enablement journey to stay in front of the changing nature of work, new technologies, and needs of every generation in the workforce. By adopting modern people practices, we are shifting from managing performance to enabling employee success.

As part of this initiative, we’re encouraging all of Workday’s individual contributors to take part in one of the two-day career agility workshops we are leading, so they can learn how to effectively conduct a self-guided career sprint. Through these sprints, our employees—also known as Workmates—will acquire the mindsets, skill sets, and toolsets needed to achieve their career and development goals.

Career sprints, modeled after the agile development methodology used in software development (and here at Workday), will help our Workmates better collaborate with cross-functional teams, self-organize, and continuously pursue new skills at a pace that fits the way they work. The goal is to empower employees to be intentional about what they want from their careers and their Workday experience.

Our Workmates have the unique opportunity to chart their own courses for growth and pursue their desired skills and capabilities.

Each individual’s path will vary depending on the person, level, tenure, and area of expertise. Workmates may decide to pursue sprints to get a certification, gain mentoring or leadership skills, or develop new competencies in things such as web analytics.

The employee chooses a desired area of growth and aims for the sweet spot of skill/competency development that is both good for them and good for the company. Regardless of what they choose to do, employees will develop capabilities or establish connections that ultimately benefit their daily work. With the support of their manager, they will then proceed to work towards their goal in a sprint that typically lasts three to six months.

Changing World of Work Requires Agile Workers

With career sprints, our Workmates have the unique opportunity to chart their own courses for growth and pursue their desired skills and capabilities. The shorter timeframes make success more likely—and trackable. Rather than devise career goals and plans for others, managers act more as coaches.

While career sprints are still a new concept that we are introducing internally, we believe all individual contributors will benefit from our career agility workshops, where they will learn how to:

  • Identify where they are, their career interests and goals, and what career accelerators (connections and capabilities) would help them pursue those goals.
  • Plan with their manager to determine how to build desired experiences into their work.
  • Sprint by identifying and executing growth strategies using career accelerators.
  • Reflect and inspect to see if they are on course throughout the sprint, adapt if need be, get feedback from others, and then share their story of growth with others.

 Workday Career Sprint

After completion of a workshop, Workmates are invited to draw upon what they learned again and again as they run new sprints.

Workmate, Take the Wheel!

While the career sprint relies on the individual to take charge of their own development, make no mistake—managers are still very much involved in the process. And they have a major role to play in our various Performance Enablement activities as we move to more meaningful and frequent check-ins, goal setting and progress tracking via Workday Human Capital Management, and tracking our own progress on providing a great employee experience via weekly employee surveys.

In short, at Workday, we want to put our people in the driver’s seat and empower them to take control of their own development, in an environment that enables them to bring their best selves to work each day.