Agile HR: 5 elements to consider

Agile HR
Illustration: Studio Fee Overbeeke

In our list “11 HR Trends for 2016”, published end 2015, number one on the list was “HR embraces Agile”. And indeed, agile is now visible everywhere, also in HR. Recently we were in contact with some HR teams, who were looking for support with the implementation of agile in HR. ¬†Sometimes I get the impression that HR people now think agile is the holy grail, that will help to solve all HR problems we were not able to solve since the inception of HR. Learn agile and mindfulness, preferably in a week, and the future will be bright….

Some elements to consider for HR before the start of an agile journey.

1. Do we have too much on our plate anyway?

Many HR teams are too busy. Not enough focus, and too many projects is a common characteristic of many HR teams. (Read: “My top 3 favourite HR interventions“, and “4 elements of a minimalistic HR“). Maybe it is easier to stop with some projects (e.g. detecting all the talent in the organisation”) than to learn new working methods.

2. Is our team small enough?

Many HR teams are too large. Maybe it is easier to make the team smaller, than to learn a team that is too large to adopt new working methods (including the implementation of a “new mindset”). With a smaller team you do less, you have less meetings, and you can certainly increase speed.

3. Does the organisation embrace agile?

The best examples of HR teams that are really focusing on facilitating and improving organisational agility, can be found in organisations that have really embraced agile, or where agility has come natural, such as, Spotify, Airbnb, TomTom and parts of ING. Ask the question: does it make sense to start with agile HR, if the rest of the organisation is still busy implementing the lessons of Taylor?

4. Can we implement agile in an agile way?

Is there room to implement agile in an agile way? Can you experiment and can you start with a small team? Can you learn from the developers or the marketeers? Do you have a core group of people who are keen to make the change? Or is there only an external force: the rest of the organisation is ready, now it is time for HR.

5. Are we patient enough?

It will take a long time before new behaviour becomes automatic. The amount of time mentioned in the literature varies, but it seems to take anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behaviour into the life of individuals. With teams the time might be longer. Ask yourself: do we have the patience and the resilience to start on this agile journey?

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