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Why Practicing Agility Matters in Human Resources Instead of moving sequentially from start to end and delivering the final product at the very end of the project, agility offers an iterative and incremental approach

By Payal Sondhi

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Agility, as we know, is the ability to think and understand quickly. This, in a business environment, is a methodology where a project is broken up into smaller stages and carried on by team members through constant collaboration and continuous iteration. Instead of moving sequentially from start to end and delivering the final product at the very end of the project, agility offers an iterative and incremental approach. Agile companies are meant to be more productive and collaborative. They foster the growth and development of employees and the company as a whole.

In this fast-paced and innovation-driven business environment if you aren't implementing agile methodologies in your business, then you may be losing out on an edge and may not be able to stay relevant or on par with your competitors. Over 71 per cent of organisations across the world use agile approaches in some way or the other, including within and across departments. Of all the organisations implementing these, 98 per cent of them were able to achieve success.

In order to implement agile processes, a buy-in is required from all the stakeholders as it may require a complete overhaul of the processes. The first step is to ensure transparency across all levels in order to ensure receptiveness of the team. The second step is to open a two-way communication channel wherein the management is constantly communicating the "why' and "how' and simultaneously accepting the feedback given by the team. This will also help the organisation in staying clear of the grapevine, which may have a negative effect on the process. The third and the most critical step is to ensure that the organisation is moving towards developing lean processes and structures since implementing agile processes is not a one-time activity; it's an ongoing process, hence, lesser the hierarchy, more the fluidity in the processes.

If your organisation is planning to go agile, then you need to start with HR. That is because your Human Resources (HR) department isn't just about people management and managing operations; HR is a strategic unit that offers business value in terms of growth capabilities, efficiency gains, and cost savings — all of which are important factors for an agile organisation.

Right from creating better engagement among employees to revamping the entire organisational structure, an agile HR can help your company navigate through the changing workplace as well as business expectations.

Agile HR realigns your organisation to respond to the dynamic changes in today's business environment. Instead of sticking to rigid plans, agile HR supports flexibility and innovation.

Implementing Agile HR in Your Organisation:

1. Start Small

Instead of trying to make all the business processes in your HR department agile, start small and implement agile as an experiment in just one team or department to see how it fares. You can also use this opportunity to implement agile in different ways and learn from trials and errors.

Over 45 per cent of the organisations have reported that their primary barrier to scaling agile methodology in their organization was lack of internal support. By only introducing agility in a small section instead of the entire HR department, you could conduct some A/B testing and hone in on the right ways to implement it and sell the idea through proven data.

2. Consistency is Key

You can't have agility in one team and not implement it in others because it will lead to one department moving fast and the other slowing down the entire process. Agile is about fostering adaptability and flexibility. You need to have a plan to eventually spread it throughout the organization in order to reap its true benefits.

You also cannot implement some aspects of the agile methodology and ignore the rest. It would not only defeat the whole purpose but also create more confusion among your employees. Carefully assess the agile methodology while rolling it out to ensure that it is scalable and more importantly, sustainable.

3. Take Advantage of Agile Tools

You need tools for the entire organisation to facilitate development and engagement if you truly want to create an agile organisation. It's best to use a tool that can give you real-time and ongoing feedback for the different business processes.

A real-time feedback tool works seamlessly with agile processes and allows employees to understand how they are performing throughout the year. For people working on short term projects, it makes more sense to receive ongoing feedback and make changes accordingly in order to maximize their overall performance and development.

The right agile tools will also help employees align their individual goals with team goals and overall business objectives. It can help managers track the progress of the different short term and long-term goals while making adjustments along the way, which is way more effective than an annual review.

Final Words

For a company to go the agile route, beginning with HR is the most logical step. When your HR department incorporates the values of organisational agility, you are able to get increased efficiency, high productivity, and improved employee engagement. This will result in faster growth and an overall future-proof way to ensure corporate success.

Payal Sondhi

Manager - Human Resources, SILA

Payal Sondhi is the Human Resources Manager at SILA.

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