Do you have an agile HR?

If ‘agility’ is the new buzzword of the tech industry, it’s not without reason.
Post-recession, there is no such thing as ‘business as usual’. Organizations are faced with unprecedented challenges as well as opportunities for growth. To take advantage of these opportunities, business leaders need to act quickly and HR needs to partner with them effectively. This implies an agile HR.

So what does agile mean for HR?

This means brainstorming questions like:

  • Will our HR systems, policies and capacities remain relevant five or ten years down the line
  • Which department knows more about people than HR?
  • What do we need to do to keep pace with the changing technologies?
  • How can we ensure that our employees are early adopters of any technical revolution?

The pace of business today is maddening. When JP Morgan Chase acquired Washington Mutual the company only had a few weeks to integrate thousands of people, move them into new roles, and rapidly lay off those who were not needed. This company, for all its faults, has an amazing “talent mobility” and “talent transparency” program. Within just a few weeks all managers were able to meet with their “new teams” and make rapid decisions, based on data, about who to keep and who to hand over an attractive severance packages. They were axing, but not ruthlessly.

Another worthy example: Facebook.

The social media giant had to come out with an IPO. But before that, they had to put in place massive changes in strategy (Instagram acquisition, followed by launch of Facebook Camera etc.) any other company would have buckled under pressure but not this one. If they survived the ordeal, it was because they survived by what has come to be known in the tech world as “The Agile Model of Management.”

What’s in the Agile Manifesto?

  • Make your business approach flexible and responsive
  • Make your organizational structures simpler and better
  • Make adaptability, teamwork, innovation and swiftness as your HR mantras
  • Sets standards, monitor performance, identify and support star employees with resources, tools and technologies. Don’t forget to reward them as well

Incorporating an element of agility into the HR function allows it to be nimbler and creates a culture that is responsive to the marketplace’s changing needs. An agile organization is one that’s able to change track and re-track quickly and easily.

In the short and long run, that pays.

(Based on Trends Reshaping the Future of HR by David Gartside, Walter Gossage, Yaarit Silverstone, Himanshu Tambe and Susan M. Cantrell, a paper by Accenture).