A growing number of organizations are transforming into agile (flexible) organizations which delight customers and adapt to the market more swiftly. This puts a high demand on the HR competencies of an organization. It calls for the reinvention of traditional HR and is spawning a way of working called Agile HR. In our view, Agile HR consists of three elements:

  1. The agile (flexible) deployment of HR competencies, in multidisciplinary teams or teams of HR professionals
  2. The radical renewal of HR instruments, making them suitable for an agile organization
  3. The contribution to agile transitions, a specific form of organizational change

As an HR manager, professional or agile enthusiast, you can use these movements and master the new HR competencies.

The flexible deployment of the HR competency

An agile organization needs an HR competency that can easily adapt, grow, and maneuver. There are two possibilities to get there:

  • Spread out HR skills among multidisciplinary teams in the organization. The main focus is on the team’s needs: not so much in terms of HR advice or administration, but rather in skills concerning talent development and rewards, for example. Those concerned with HR will exchange knowledge in departments or so-called guilds; the HR department no longer exists.
  • The HR department remains but operates more flexible using Agile methods. For example: they use Agile Portfolio Management to organize, continuously make decisions and prioritize. Scrum is used by the HR professionals to proactively manage projects in the organization.

The radical renewal of HR instruments

In agile organizations most teams are self-organizing and this requires a radical renewal of traditional HR instruments concerning learning, development, recruitment, rewarding and appraisals. The emphasis is put less on top-level decisions, documentation and internal politics, and on transparency, insights from data and horizontal decision-making instead. Here are some examples of new instruments:

  • Teams at John Deere measure employees’ involvement every two weeks. This provides insight in the happiness and motivation of all team members for the whole organization.
  • Agile teams hold on to talent by keeping team members engaged. You can read our contribution on this topic in the book Agile Talent.
  • Rewards and appraisals. The traditional review and appraisal cycle is too slow and too focused on documentation to be considered agile. Instead you keep your team motivated by continuous transparent rewards and small, incremental types of feedback. For example with Kudo Cards from Management 3.0.

The contribution to agile transitions

A growing number of organizations have started transforming into Agile organizations. Banks, insurance companies, health care organizations as well as companies in food and retail. These organizational transformations have a considerable impact on employees and managers. Roles and responsibilities are shifting and the mind-set requires change. HR can slow down this transition, by making procedures and plans. An agile HR competency however, helps ease and accelerate this transition by assisting management and employers and by ongoing coaching.

Agile HR, in one of the previously mentioned forms, is experiencing a period of strong growth. Organizations are experimenting and new methods arise to inspire teams and individuals to get the best out of themselves and the organization. Mark my words: Agile HR becomes a full-fledged and fully-grown discipline. You do not want to miss this!

Do you want to know more about how you can renew the HR competency in your Agile organization? Contact us!

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