15 November 2021

The importance of HR in your agile strategy - and how to get started

Scrum and the Agile Manifesto were born from software development, and a time where rigid or slow project management could render a product obsolete before it is even released. Nowadays, thanks to the rate of digital transformation, agile doesn't apply exclusively to technology departments anymore.

Entire organizations embrace the agile mindset and this new way of working. Of course this implies a huge impact on how we structure our organizations and a shift in our world of work.

To increase business agility, organizations should evolve from the traditional top-down structure towards a structure that aligns around value streams. They need structure that can adapt and respond quickly to customer and market needs. HR should get in the driver's seat and grab the wheel, being a change agent for the new agile culture, mindset and behaviours.

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To do so, HR departments should radically change their role in organizations. The old, controlling HR role is not valid anymore. Instead, they should be a facilitator to actively support employees to engage, grow and be happy in their workplace and build and support networks of empowered, self-organising and collaborative teams.

First steps for more agile HR

A cultural shift and the change to an organization that embraces the agile values don’t take place overnight. You should work hard on it, and on all the different layers of the organization. In becoming a more agile HR Department you can start with small steps:

  • Focus on strength-driven competences like growth mindset, instead of always pointing out working areas and foster continuous learning by introducing initiatives. Examples of these could be internal knowledge sharing programs, peer coaching, lunch & learn, and exploration days.
  • In (variable) rewarding, focus on team performance over individual performance, and on behaviour instead of results.
  • Encourage and facilitate continuous 360º feedback, so adjustment can be made quickly.
  • Foster recognition, especially peer recognition, and praise by using a method and platform that suits your team like kudo’s, a happiness door, wall of thanks.
  • Strive to understand your people and their needs, and involve them to co-create solutions.

Keep in mind that experimentation and learning are key in an agile environment, so start, try, fail, adapt and improve! There’s no general recipe that works for every organization, you have to find your own.

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