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Jumping Through Hoops: Tricks For Agile HR Departments:

In SAFe Distilled 5.0: Achieving Business Agility With Scaled Agile Framework, authors Richard Knaster and Dean Leffingwell, describe the current climate in the following manner: “In today’s digital economy, the only truly sustainable competitive advantage is the speed at which an organization can sense and respond to the needs of its customers.” Now, when you think about a company delivering the needs of their customers, you don’t necessarily consider Human Resources. You may think of manufacturing and design, IT or management. It’s because of this predisposition to the scope of agile benefits that HR is often glossed over as a department when corporations strive to implement an agile transformation within the organisation.

The text describes ‘Agile HR’ as providing the “Lean-Agile mindset, values, and principles to hiring, engaging, and retaining people” on the teams across a company. Through this lens it is clear why Human Resources needs to be on the same page as the rest of the company, because if HR are not looking at the world through the same eyes as the rest of the company, there may be unintentional conflicts in interest when performing their purpose of “hiring, engaging and retaining” employees. With this in mind, Knaster and Leffingwell, provided six important aspects for HR to consider during the individual process of becoming agile:

• Embrace the new talent contract.

This agreement recognizes the unique needs of knowledge workers and provides the engagement, empowerment, and autonomy they require to reach their full potential.

• Foster continuous engagement.

Continuous employee engagement occurs when everyone in the enterprise understands the business mission, is engaged in meaningful work, and is fully empowered to do their part.

• Hire for attitude and cultural fit.

Identify, attract, hire, and retain people who will be most successful in the dynamic team environment of an Agile culture.

• Move to iterative performance flow.

Many Lean enterprises have eliminated the annual performance review. Instead, leaders and managers offer fast, continuous feedback and also solicit and receive feedback in return.

• Take the issue of money off the table.

Replacing traditional, individual incentives with the right shared incentives helps tailor compensation and motivation to the differing needs of individuals in the next generation workforce.

• Support impactful learning and growth.

Modern careers are fuelled more by personal choices and meaningful growth than by climbing a hierarchical ladder. Successful employers need to respond by providing rewarding work, more fluid roles, and individual growth paths.

Of course, implementing any of these ideas is harder than it may sound. However, Business To found that since providing individuals with reviews and rewards is a key part of HR’s role, there may be trends in how this is done with agility. They found that the inclusion of team performance as part of individual performance reviews, and allowing the individual team members to review one another, whilst also splitting performance reviews from any discussions of compensation or bonuses, would improve performance and agility. This is because, by allowing individuals to have a say in their practice, there is a greater sense of responsibility, and autonomy at work. If you know your colleagues could just as easily scrutinise you as HR could, performance consistency can improve. Furthermore, through the removal of discussing financial gains during performance reviews means that there is a lesser association between performance and monetary value.

This ought to further reduce friction between individuals and their minds; fearing that mistakes may get them fired. This doesn’t need to be a George Orwell book; Big Brother isn’t watching you to be sure you’re not making mistakes. It’s okay. And, with group performance relating to individual performance in performance reviews, there is a greater importance placed on internal communication and working toward the company goals. These ideas lay the foundations for what could be an engaged worker population. All because of one change in HR’s practices.

We here at The Agile Works, have discussed the idea of engagement further in our blog posts: Pink And White: Engagement At Work, Backbiting And Disengagement and finally Think Outside The Box, An Exploration Of Daniel Pink, Innovation And The Candle Problem.

Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (, is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.

He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.

The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.

To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address:

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