HR Leads Business

Jun 30, 2019 | Clare Chiappetta

Is Agile Right for Your HR Team?

There’s a reason why agile management strategies are being deployed by some of the world’s biggest companies — agile offers a flexibility and a consumer-first attitude that can set a company on its most efficient path. Being agile means embracing a new employee dynamic — one that merges tasks that were previously fixed and isolated, creating a new, holistic synthesis.

A study from Gallup sought to identify what agility means in the workplace. Many companies want to embrace agile principles, but may not have the groundwork in place for success. So how do you know if going agile is right for your team?

“Before engaging in a massive departmental overhaul, start with some user research to find out what it is that people actually want from your department,” says Kate Rand, director of people and operations at Beyond and an associate in the AgileHR community.

So how can you tell if going agile is a good fit for your team? Here are some reasons why going agile may work for you — or may not.

Take a Trial Run Before Committing

The term “agile” has become amorphous, so it’s important to identify what it means for your team. Rand distinguishes between human resources going agile as a department versus creating HR for an Agile company. The former, she says, involves adopting flexible methods and adaptable processes to boost your team’s efficiency, while the latter — formal Agile — is much more ambitious, and requires a complete company overhaul.

Agile requires a new methodology so it’s not a “quick fix,” but if implemented with patience it can lead to overall increases in efficiency. If you’re considering a transition to agile methods, remember not to be too ambitious. “Agile transformations are tricky at the best of times, and it’s best to look for small, low-risk/high-value initiatives to test out some agile approaches,” Rand says.

Agile Requires a Big-Picture Review

In any company, interdepartmental cooperation can be cause issues. Many departments function in a vacuum, and this lack of accountability often creates repeated problems. Deploying agile tactics can keep HR leaders involved in the entire process. Employing agile tactics can establish a larger vision for your company — and HR’s role in that.

Agile can be helpful in achieving an overall image of hiring practices. “Many team projects seem to miss the executive conversation, every single time, and they have to hire more people to do the same exact same thing. But that picture is not clear, because they don't run an Agile team,”  says Ewing Gillaspy, worldwide research leader at IBM’s Watson Talent. Going agile can reset patterns, leading to overall efficiency.

Implementing Agile Tactics May Help

Going agile necessarily immerses your team in a world of new tech — but learning where tech can be implemented to ease and streamline hiring requires a lot of upfront research. Agile’s solution to managing time may be helpful in achieving this transition.

Common business practice dictates one- to two-year projects, but this often creates roadblocks for progress. Being agile requires a new approach. Agile works in iterations, like waves leading toward the final goal. “Going agile helps you to identify what you need to prioritize, and promises that you're always going to focus on the most crucial work,” Gillaspy says.