Agile HR Strategies Can Transform Your Organization

Agile HR Basics

Focus Your Best Practices on Responsiveness and Teams


The modern business environment is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous—a state that has spawned its own acronym, VUCA—where change is not only constant, but also rapid. In this environment, sticking with traditional ways of thinking means you’re behind the curve. Companies striving to succeed in the rapidly changing VUCA state of the business world must be able to adapt quickly. HR success in particular today requires agility—and successful HR professionals and business owners are increasingly changing their practices from traditional to more agile strategies.

For managers, supervisors, team leaders, business owners and HR professionals to begin applying the “agile HR” approach to developing and implementing personnel and operational strategies in their organizations, they need to focus on developing responsiveness to customers and new ways of team building.

Agile Approaches acknowledges that 2017 was the year to prepare for transforming HR to be agile, consumer focused, and digital, and last year, the HR Trend Institute listed “HR Embraces Agile” as the number one HR trend. There’s no doubt agile HR trends have been on the rise in recent years, but why?

Agile HR gets its roots from the software development industry. In 2001, 17 software developers met and developed a Manifesto for Agile Software Development, embracing principles such as customer satisfaction, collaboration and adaptation as top priorities. The Manifesto values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

In Josh Bersin’s IMPACT 2012 Keynote Speech, “Building the Agile Enterprise: A New Model for HR,” he took these principles and applied them to management and HR. During this presentation he outlined agile management as having a focus on speed and customers, and said that HR’s job was to implement programs, systems and strategies that foster expertise, collaboration and decision making.

Bersin also stated, “Everything which makes Agile work for software also works for management, leadership, and HR. Management and HR processes are too slow; they don’t reflect business changes fast enough, and they don’t give people fast-enough feedback and learning.”

Agile HR strategies are replacing traditional approaches that can’t keep up with the increasingly rapid changing pace in the modern business environment. Thus an agile HR approach will not only help your organization adapt to but also get ahead of these rapid changes—as opposed to struggling to keep up.

Transform Your Thinking and Take Action

As you seek to develop an agile mindset, you’ll need to master these two key changes to your way of thinking:

  1. Creating an environment that produces results (as opposed to managing for results)
  2. Developing a sense-and-respond mindset (as opposed to focusing on predicting and planning)

But implementing agile strategies goes beyond thinking! To become an agile HR professional, you must:

  • Be prepared to act strategically and quickly while delivering results
  • Empower people throughout the organization to do the same
  • Be team-focused and emphasize adaptability
  • Involve stakeholders in collaborating to solve organizational and customer needs, while also being responsive to change in real time

Become an Agile Leader

(This post first appeared in an AudioSolutionz blog)

By Amy P

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