Agile: empowering HR teams
Agile teams are now a reality among many companies outside the IT sector and across different departments, and there are pretty good reasons for that to be happening.
To begin with, we’re living in an era of digital disruption that is pushing companies to rethink and reinvent their mindset, their management style and their processes.
In addition, a different workforce sector is on the rise – the knowledge workers - and companies must adapt to it. The knowledge workers often know more about the work they perform than their superiors and, therefore, they need to be autonomous to explore their ideas and experiment so that projects can keep moving forward.
This represents a major challenge for traditional team management and requires the right mindset to understand the advantages of Agile: allowing your teams to focus on business value and customer needs in a productive and cost-effective way.
Evidently, HR teams can benefit from adopting Agile practices, updating their way of working towards a more communicative and collaborative environment that helps them to prioritise value, maximise flow and deliver more quickly.
But first, what is Agile?
In 2001 the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was published and Agile became the standard process for software development.
This manifesto was written by a group of seventeen developers that wanted to improve the software development process and it states that it is important to value individuals and interactions over processes and tools; working software over comprehensive documentation; customer collaboration over contract negotiation and responding to change over following a plan.
This new methodology revolutionised the IT sector and led to the implementation of new software development frameworks such as Scrum, Kanban and XP.
The key Agile practices IT teams use consist in:
- Backlog – list of prioritised work;
- Tickets – units of work necessary to accomplish the items in the backlog;
- Boards – displayed publicly so all the team can check work progress;
- Planning - organise the work to be done in a sprint (period of usually 2-4 weeks);
- Daily standups - 5 - 10 minute meetings where the team checks in on progress and discusses challenges;
- Retrospective - meetings held after a sprint is over to discuss how it went (focus on difficulties and improvements).
So, why go agile on HR teams?
As said before, although it was designed to improve software development teams, the Agile methodology has become popular among companies in various sectors due to its ability to generate a consistent increase of team productivity and efficiency.
An experience report, published on Agile Alliance, defined these business drivers for Agile adoption in HR:
- Improve Predictability and Cohesiveness: Collaborate and deliver on promises with "no surprises" in timing or quality. Deliver a cohesive set of products and services across a global employment landscape.
- Improve Capabilities and Responsiveness: Prioritise work to yield the most benefit to stakeholders. Respond quickly to high priorities.
- Act as "One HR": Align across departments to manage expectations, priorities, decision-making and success. Model collaboration and empowered decision-making to the rest of the organisation.
With these in mind, it’s easy to acknowledge that Agile principles such as collaboration, open communication, trust and independence, efficiency and continuous delivery can impact and empower HR teams.
The Agile key practices applied to HR allow your team to keep performing the same tasks in a more responsive way, constantly adapting to ongoing changes and/or new customer requirements.
Its customer centricity, team-based and continuous improvement culture may certainly be the key to lead your HR team to next level. But keep in mind that to accomplish that goal you’ll need to do more than just adapt the work practices in your HR department.
A mindset shift in the department and in your company, it’s imperative to embrace the Agile methodology and to achieve that you must prepare your team, providing training and support in a continuous learning environment.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!
Your team here at skeeled