Taking People / HR function to the Next Level

This image show taking people to Agile

HR function to the Next Level. It’s a well-known fact that we are sailing in a highly turbulent and complex business environment, that is highly uncertain and volatile.

The shelf-life of products and companies is shrinking, the preferences and expectations of the multi-generation workforce are changing, customer needs are changing, technology is getting outdated and many more changes are taking place.

Change is constant and some organizations and people embrace the change wholeheartedly while others lament and take the time to cope with the stress generated from change.

When organizations are operating in such a dynamic vortex of uncertainty, it’s natural and of course, highly important for the People function (aka Human Resources) within organizations to shift from a traditional mindset, old behaviors, and command-and-control management to a more open-contemporary mindset to unlearn and learn new behaviors, and focus on adaptability, innovation and speed.

In short, the People function and teams need to embrace Agile HR. In our earlier blog post – What is Agile HR? – My team and I outlined that Agile HR encompasses operations agility, people management agility, and cultural agility.

Many of us are familiar with the phrase “easier said than done”. This phrase is very apt when planning toward Agile HR implementation. Few too many tend to think that the Agile HR approach is not rocket science and every organization can embrace this approach to completion. However, it’s important to understand that this form of thinking can lead to transformation failures.

Agile is all about a shift in values, behaviors, and actions. That is why thought leaders, Agile practitioners, and Coaches mention that Agile is a Mindset. It’s all about having healthy and open transparent conversations between and across members (including leaders) and teams.

Coaching is integral to this approach, and when done in the right way, it can help people practice constructive behaviors and actions, thus building an agile constructive culture.

Before even beginning the transition to Agile HR, an organization’s leaders and the People/PeopleOps teams need to answer:

  • Why should we shift to an Agile HR approach?
  • What impediments are the People team and the organization facing? Are these blockers and problems localized to any one People area (like recruitment or L&D) or it’s spread across the entire People function?
  • Can an Agile mindset, values and practices help resolve the blockers?
  • Do we have a common working agreement to pilot agile practices on a small scale, experiment and learn from failures and successes?

The teams must list out all the problems/blockers. Next, the teams need to analyze which Agile practices and values can help solve the issues.

For example, the recruiting team may be overwhelmed by a huge list of demands and in a dilemma as to how to meet all the demands and when to switch to the next demand.

The scrum master (aka recruiting lead or manager), recruiters, and other key stakeholders (like product owners) could start using scrum ceremonies, beginning with sprint planning. During this stage, the team prioritizes the backlog for the sprint so that the recruiters have a clear understanding of the top requisitions that need due attention for the sprint.

Next, the team discusses how much effort would be required for each requisition based on the complexity of skills and capabilities, and finally, have a working agreement on the maximum number of profiles that need to be screened and sent to the hiring team, apart from planning for backup profiles.

Another common problem might be that members of the People function feel lost or stuck on the same task for a few days. The People Lead might not have clear visibility on the team’s day-to-day workflow. To address this problem, the Lead can use Kanban.

Through this board, the Lead visualizes each member’s work and other members to gain clarity on which task their peers are working on. Defining the definition of done and keeping track of the lead time, helps the team to address blockers quickly, and improve workflow.

Paying attention to the “why” aspect (with a focus on one’s own team and organization) and aligning to an organization’s vision and mission can help build a strong case for practicing the Agile HR approach. When all members have a common understanding of what problem areas need to be addressed, it maximizes gains.

The team needs to begin agile practices on a small scale by trying out for three iterations with retrospective sessions. This will help the team to analyze their processes and approach, and if necessary, iterate on their processes.

Author: Lakshmi CV