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HR Goes Agile: How Moving to an Agile HR Environment Can Improve Success

hr best practices hr department hr essentials hr for small business hr management Feb 23, 2021

The tech industry has been talking about “the agile workplace” for years, but we’re now starting to see the term in all areas of business. An agile work environment means that your business looks at many options, considers success and risk, and then moves forward. Business goes to market or implements a new program with a level of certainty they are comfortable with rather than waiting until perfection is assured. Agility in human resources has been in place for years, we just never looked at it this way before.

Why Adopt an Agile HR Philosophy?

With the rapid pace at which the world changes these days, leaders need to understand that waiting for a final version of a new product isn’t always feasible. Sometimes the product just needs to get out to the market. We have to weigh the data we have available at the time against whatever certainty about the future we have and make our best guess as to what the right answer could be. The agile HR department will then revisit the situation, consider any new data available, and course-correct accordingly.

An Agile HR in Action

Take, for example, the entire process of recruiting. We can never say that we are certain we have the candidate who will meet all our needs, fit into the culture perfectly, and complete quality work on a daily basis. We interview, give tests, talk to references, and have candidates come back one last time before we make an offer. After taking all that we know into consideration, we send an offer letter and hope that we’ve made the right choice. We evaluate the candidate’s performance over the first 30, 60 and 90 days and make small adjustments as necessary. Maybe we provide additional training or alter a few responsibilities of the position. Perhaps you pair them with a buddy to guide them through the culture of your organization. This is the exact process you find in a technology company going to market in an agile culture. Make a decision – evaluate – revise – repeat!

How to View Your HR Function as Agile

Human resources is likely the original agile environment. Because HR is the one function of the business that is reliant on people, we have never been completely certain how our policies and initiatives will be received by our audience until they are in practice. When it comes to performance management, developing training, and providing benefits, we do our best to meet the needs of our stakeholders, but at the end of the day, we are constantly revising and improving processes to ensure they meet the needs of both the business and our employee populations. This is how an agile HR operates.

HR must embrace the agile environment head on. That means you will share your information and let leaders know you are forging ahead. Once launched, you’ll want to always monitor things closely and have a Plan B at the ready in the event you need to pivot. You mustn’t be so committed to your idea that you perceive a need for change as a failure.

The mantra of an agile HR is often stated as “good is better than perfect.” Embrace this philosophy and you’ll be better equipped to provide solutions that leadership expects and drives your HR function to the next level.

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