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Embracing HR Practices to Support Agility

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David Dame, enterprise agility change agent and organizational coach, describes scaling engagement agility in the context of HR practices.

Agility is no longer just an IT or engineering movement, it is something that the entire organization needs to embrace. For this to be effective and long lived it needs the full involvement of human resources, organizational leaders, and change agents. Human resource practices need to adapt to this new fast-paced environment. They need to become ‘lean’, they need to become ‘flexible’, they need to become ‘agile’.

James Cleaver, Senior Manager, Global Talent Acquisition at OpenText said:

HR traditionally believed its function is to put order and structure to the organization, yet Agile believes in rapid change by breaking down structure and order.

As per the research report published on CIPD, the experts identified two specific areas where HR can make a difference to supporting agility:

1. Leading the strategic agility agenda – foreseeing and addressing emerging business needs.

2. Using and championing agile methodology – utilising experimentation and incremental change to adapt and build people management solutions geared to support current and future business needs.

Dave says that here is no longer a guaranteed long relationship between employee and employer. In today’s world, organizations need a balance between employer and employees. He explains following things to look at to connect with employees quicker and continually:

1. Job models: Instead of projecting an employees' career for the next 5 to 10 years HR should shorten the horizon to 2 to 3 years. HR should keep these as lean and flexible as possible. Keeping open and flexible models allows employees to see themselves in a continually changing organization.

2. Training: Dave suggests encouraging employees to take training courses that might help the organization pivot to new opportunities.

Ashish Mahajan, Process Manager at Ford Motor Company, suggests in his blog encouraging employees to develop their competencies in their domain. Support a bottom-up approach in which employees decide on their competence, rather than top-down, budget-driven mandatory trainings that are, at times, difficult to get value from.

3. Performance reviews: In today’s environment of rapid and continual change, Dave believes the need to accelerate from twice a year to continual performance reviews. These feedback loops are no longer just between manager and employee, but all the people, the employee interfaces with so to get the 360 continual view.

4. Building a relationship with your people: Dave insists regular touch points with employees need to be frequent and about them. This is all about them, not their projects or tasks.

Ashish mentions that the hiring of the best employees, is also an important role of HR in Agile organizations.

Hiring an employee with the right attitude and mindset is the first step towards building an Agile organization. The focus should be to get the right individual, one who fits the organizational and team culture.

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