Decoding what agility means for HR
In recent times, ‘agility’ has become the buzzword, businesses have started to adopt ‘agile’ methodologies to keep pace with the ever dynamic world. While agile’s natural environment is the software world, where it was introduced to meet the constantly changing and multifaceted customer requirements, agile isn’t restricted to tech anymore. It’s a global movement that is transforming the way most organizations work. Agility is nothing but the ‘ability to respond to a change to succeed in a turbulent environment.’ In today’s VUCA world, where disruptive innovation and a high speed to market are prerequisites, businesses need to be deft and proactive. Amidst all this, HR cannot be risked being seen as a hurdle for an agile environment, and hence HR needs to evolve and respond to the needs of the organization swiftly as well. But, how does HR become agile?
Invest in coaching people managers
At the expense of jeopardizing their own roles, HR leaders must invest in coaching people managers to effectively engage with their people & solve for concerns. Given the ratio of HR to employees, it’s challenging for HR professionals to personally engage with every individual in the organization; hence, the need for equipping the people managers to do the same. For a human being to associate with a goal, a person, or a philosophy, and give it their 100 percent, it is vital to be able to connect with it. Thus, HR must nurture people managers that boost their employee morale, address employee grievances, identify their learning and growth requirements. This augments collaboration & brings in the required velocity by swift action on critical people's needs.
Real-time employee feedback
In today’s business environment, how relevant do you think are the annual dipstick surveys? By the time HR collects feedback, analyzes it, and makes an action plan, the problem seems to have changed. Hence the need for a continuous feedback mechanism is indispensable. Agile HR must invest in engaging with its people regularly to understand their concern and promptly act on it. There is a need to have dynamic people policies and interventions, to adapt to the changing needs of employees & market conditions, more than ever.
Make technology your friend
For HR to truly partner with business and be agile, it needs to off-load a lot of mundane tasks on technology. This saves time and energy for HR to devote to more meaningful and complex business problems. Not only that, HR must leverage the power of technology to analyze trends and data to throw insights that can be used to make critical decisions on hiring, controlling attrition, driving higher productivity, etc. AI chatbots are the new-age technology that agile HR is adopting to do sentiment analysis and taking necessary steps in time. Increasing touch points with your employees using AI is a great way to pigeonhole your drivers of engagement & disengagement.
Develop a learning organization
One of the key factors that enable agility is learning. HR needs to put emphasis on learning and help employees acquire or build new skills to keep abreast of the external changes & stay relevant. We need to drift away from a ‘remedial’ approach of learning to an ‘evolving’ one.
HR must create and encourage a learning culture, where each individual is learning continuously. Learning need not be always in an instructor-led format; it is experiential too. Create opportunities for people to go beyond the routine tasks to take up assignments that force them to learn. Recognize and reward the behavior of experimenting and going outside of one’s domain to learn something new. Teach them how to embrace failures and celebrate risk-taking.
Hire and manage talent tactfully
You are a product of your environment and if your environment is sharp, nimble, and action-oriented, it is bound to infuse similar energies to everyone else around. Hence, in an agile environment, it is only prudent for HR to hire a person who is better than the previous one. A sharper and more productive employee reduces your investment of cost and time in becoming productive and adds value to the ecosystem much more than an average hire.
Most of the HR practices like performance management, rewards & recognition, compensation, career development is still tied to narrowly defined job descriptions. In an agile environment, when the organization can no longer rely on static job titles, these processes may will to change too. HR needs to find new ways of defining how to reward employees, who get paid what and how performance will be evaluated. A lot of these processes may change to fit the individual rather than fitting the job.
HR must also keep an eye on the changes in the market & the talent ecosystem to be able to predict future hiring requirements & make the right strategy. New skills and technology ushering in, altering business models of competitors, changes in domestic & international economics, etc. all have a significant influence on the talent strategy of an organization, and HR needs to be aware and ready for all such changes.
HR departments, in most organizations, work on long-term goals and are often too rigid to change. However, agility expects HR to move away from annual or bi-annual plans and adapt to external changes as they come. Having flexible, short-term performance objectives coupled with frequent, real-time feedback is one of the many ways that can help HR become agile. Likewise, a linear career path may give way to a broader career path, which makes it easier for people to switch roles as per the need of the business. Agile isn’t a cakewalk, but at the same time, it isn’t rocket science too. But, one thing is certain, those who fail to become agile may put themselves at risk of obsolescence.