The Agile HR Manifesto
When thinking about how to transform to an agile way of working in HR the first place to look is the agile manifesto I have made a few word changes here so it can align with HR much better:
Individuals and interactions over process and tools
Inspire and engage over manage and retain
Collaboration over organisational structure
Responding to individual needs over following a plan
Agile team comments
This is a list of common issues agile teams have with HR sometimes these are falsely directed towards HR.
- Performance management kills team dynamic and agility
- Bonus models do not foster agile values and undermine collaborative behaviour
- Employee appraisals are too ritualistic and infrequent to keep up with fast feedback
- Talent development is not in line with continuous learning and knowledge sharing
- HR overlooks to also hire for mind-set, ability, and conduct to thrive in agile teams
- HR cares more about policies and regulation than helping us unlock our potential
- HR is more concerned about the outdated notion of retention than engagement
- HR instruments are too static and do not inspire meaning and growth
- It feels like HR does not connect with people and cannot be trusted to act in our best interest
- HR does not get agile, and is not interested in understanding agile
Let’s look deeper into each of these.
1. Performance management kills team dynamic and agility
To combat performance management woes of agile teams is to move performance cycles to a more iterative flow, for example you could run the cycle instead every two weeks in line with common sprints.
Use planning session to share the vision HR have for performance manager set goals that will inspire, and clarify expectations.
As with anything agile continuously inspect and adapt the way performance management is conducted to get the best results becoming more engaging.
Dealing with performance management is a leadership role and as such should remain in the team, which means it should be decoupled from HR instruments.
Performance Management facts
- 95% of managers are dissatisfied with performance management systems.
- Delotte spent nearly 2 million hours on yearly performance evaluations.
- Only 2% of HR professionals rate their performance management with a grade A.
Base salaries should be adequate and in line with market changes, base salaries should be kept in line with market rates. Salary decisions should be decentralised, your line managers in specific areas of the business have a wealth of knowledge around their industry trust them and empower them to make decisions. Bringing transparency to salary structures creates trust, openness, and fairness. A team members’ salary should not be based on how good they are at negotiating. Some companies are completely transparent with salary and publish everyone’s salaries for the entire company to see.
Incentives should be created so that they will motive through mastery, autonomy, and purpose. Individual bonuses are toxic to agile teams, adopt team bonuses better yet offer team bonuses on a sprint by sprint basis, give the cash to the team to decide how they split it. Combine various formed of recognition avoid employee of the month type schemes these just de-motivate the team, instead celebrate whole team successes.
Embrace a holistic view on benefits so that you are providing benefits that people value, invest in the health and wellbeing of people 7 in 10 IT workers are so stressed they regularly consider leaving a company!
- 89% of employers think people leave for more money, in fact only 12% of employees leave for more money.
- 65% of employees who are satisfied with their role said they would also work harder if they were better recognised at work.
3. Employee Appraisals
Continuous feedback should be used in favour of employee appraisals in fact employee appraisals should be eliminated 10% of FTE 500 companies have already eliminated them.
A culture created around open feedback with a focus on continuous learning and improvement, on both individual and organisation levels should be coordinated.
The types of leaders that should be developed are life-long learners, teachers and people developers, who put trust in their people to act in the best interest of the team and organisation. They should empower people to create their own approach and make decisions, engaging in continuous listening, communication, and feedback to identify development areas and boost learning.
Employee Appraisal Facts
- 33% of performance reviews actually end up decreasing performance.
- 77% of workers say they are not given feedback that will help them advance.
4. Talent Development
The first step in developing talent is to create an environment of learning allow the organisation to be one that fosters learning, constantly inspect how you are learning and adept. Evolve your people through continuous improvement implementing new ways of learning and sharing of knowledge. Make the provision of learning easy to access so that the exchange of skill, knowledge and tools can be done seamlessly.
The second step in developing talent is growth this can be realised by empowering employees to take the lead on their own learning journey, gaining a deep understanding of the modern jobs and career paths, illustrating prospective role-based career paths. Open up regular dialogues and individual career coaching. Apply agile workforce planning and talent scouting.
Talent Development Facts
- Companies spend £114bn annually on training. Yet fewer than half those instruments result in tangible returns, even though 84% of learners find L&D solutions satisfying.
- Only 8% believe they have “excellent” programmes to build global skills and experience.
5. Talent Acquisition
To acquire an agile workforce, you must have a strong employer brand, get into the market proactively attracting and engaging potential talent. Replace the outdated job description with a value description this focuses on what value the team is creating and builds a picture for potential talent about the impact they will make. Hire for attitude and cultural fit always this is known as “People over Paper” and has been a hiring strategy I personally have used. Make sure your interactions inspire each candidate with a larger sense of purpose.
Make it fun gamify the talent acquisition experience it is fundamentally important that the team get a chance to interact with the candidate for example hiring hackathons where the team get to collaborate with the candidate see how they think, how they work, what they can bring. It is also important that the team make the hiring decision and not a manager as it’s the team that must accept the candidate again this is something I followed when managing the digital team. Finally excel at on-boarding from the moment the candidate has accepted open communication lines with them send them learning nuggets while they are waiting to join, invite them to social events and engage them before they even start!
When your talent must depart follow a few simple rules “hire slow, fire fast” if it’s not working out then a person should be moved fast hanging on to a bad fit for 1 to 2 years can destroy a team’s ability to reach high performance. We must make these decisions fast, it doesn’t mean they are bad people and this of course should be done with integrity and openness. Make sure you don’t burn bridges you want your leaving talent to become winning ambassadors for your business so that they recommend talent to you.
Talent Acquisition Facts
- 8 in 10 organisations already have difficulty filling positions.
- Unfilled positions cost the economy billions every year.
- The average time spent by recruiters looking at a CV is 5 to 7 seconds.
- 78% of CVs are misleading.
6. Policies & Regulation
Make sure that you are honouring interaction with individuals over process it’s the first rule of agile in the manifesto! Embrace the new talent contract and support an agile leadership style get away from “control ‘n’ command” and move to empowerment, create processes and conditions to stop micro-management.
Design agile people solutions that are easy to access, able to accommodate the workforce, co-created by the workforce, and constantly evolving and continuously improving.
Policies & Regulation Facts
- People that spend 1 to 6 hours with their direct leader, become:
- 29% more inspired about their work
- 30% more engaged; that is likely to recommend their company as a great place to work
- 16% more innovative
- 15% more intrinsically motivated
Focus on engaging your workforce instead of retaining them an engaged workforce is less likely to want to leave. Embed agile values (Focus, Courage, Openness, Commitment, Respect) into the DNA of the organisation.
Shape such a strong culture that the core values are lived up to by everyone, every day. Make the working environment inspiring that it allows an optimal workflow. Open the organisation structure up so that it meets the demands of a connected network.
- 88% of employees don’t have passion for their work.
8. HR Instruments
Redesign HR instruments to avoid the status quo such as: People decisions and policies dictated by forces, especially Finance & Legal for example “Hey I know its October and you need someone, but you can’t hire anyone right now”. Instruments that are driven to handle poor performance and mediocrity, Instruments that must make up for weak managers and uninspiring leaders costing billions (£284bn) to the economy. HR is always trying to make it fair on everyone which often means HR solutions are overloaded and ineffective. This is called the Douglas effect: imagine the best people you have ever worked with, and now imagine how you would setup you HR instruments for them, is this different to what you have? Now imagine the worst employee the slacker, dishonest, hiding behind their screen, not participating. We often create HR solutions that focus on keeping Douglas in check than inspiring and engaging the best.
We talk a lot about trusting people, then the policies we create that underpin the organisation don’t. For example, a pharmaceuticals company decided they trust their people and so created an open expenses system, here the people are empowered to ask themselves “is this expense really in the best interest of the organisation?” each person’s expenses record is open for anyone in the organisation to see, it goes straight to finance who pay it without asking questions. The first expectation here was that the organisation would see a rise in expenses, in-fact what happened was the organisation saw an overall reduction of 1/3 in expenses and that doesn’t even take into account all the resources it was taking to control the previous system e.g manager sign of, etc.
Bring the agile values and principles to HR solutions, stop playing nice all the time HR has been forced to fit into the existing structure, this is a big problem and can cause issues for example addressing the talent pool can mean it gets wrapped up in complex process, then people fall back into old patterns of working, we need to make sure this doesn’t happen. Get rid of the box, HR have always stayed inside their box step outside of comfort zones and start making the difference to the organisation that you can.
HR Instrument Facts
- 55% of organisations reengineered key HR processes in the past 18 months.
- Less than 50% of the CFOs appear to understand the return on their investment in human capital.
9. Trust in People’s People
We often hear that people don’t trust HR and that they are just the spy for management, this is certainly something that we must fix. We must make sure that our people’s people are actually there for our people. This can only be done by honouring the agile values and principles, and really investing in those personal interactions with people.
People’s People Facts
- 24% of employees don’t trust their employer.
- Declining employee loyalty is thought to harm organisations by causing low moral (84%), high turnover (80%), disengagement (80%), growing distrust (76%), and a lack of team spirit (73%)
10. HR Pro Learning Journey
The final complaint form agile teams is that HR pros don’t really know about agile, this is a simple solution get educated in agile as agile is the new way of working. Participate in the agile events and ceremonies like reviews, retrospectives, or planning sessions.
Then embark on your own agile journey, trigger and get started in agile you could bring in more transparency or reinvent how you recruit people. Initiate retrospectives in how you are working currently what could be improved, where are the things that are not working, eliminate the waste and focus on delivering value. From the retrospective, you will have a backlog of tangible things you can try and improve. Then iterate create that momentum to keep you going.
HR Pro Learning Journey Facts
- 92% of recognised and engaged employees say they feel proud to work at their organisation.
- Companies with engaged employees:
- Have 9% higher shareholder returns
- Make 2.5x more in revenues
- Achieve 2x the annual net income
The top trends in 2016: Agile HR is a reality
- HR embraces agile #1 of 11 HR trends for 2016 – HR Trend
- HR drives the agile organisation – HR Today
- 2016 to welcome the acceleration of agile adoption outside of IT – IT Pro Portal
The time is right to begin investing in People Operations
- Involve your HR Pros
- Training HR in agile is not enough
- Set HR up for success & guide their agile journey
- Let your People’s people have some fun too – Hackathon dedicated to HR, Speed dating to meet agile people, etc
- Cut HR some slack – Remember what it was like when you first started to learn agile!
- Reach out to your Agile teams
- Participate in agile ceremonies
- Educate yourself
- Kick-start / Boost your agile HR journey
- Understand your organisation and find your way
Remember investment in your People operations is an investment in your people
Question & Answers
If individual bonuses are bad what should we do? The team should be rewarded and the team should split the money. Some teams split equally, some split based on seniority, there are many ways the important part is that the team decides. We need to avoid an individual bonus structure that only happens once a year as mentioned a bonus per sprint is a much better way of achieving this, and it’s for the whole team not an individual.
What is the primary role of HR? The main role of HR is to create an inspiring, engaging, and fun places of work where people can thrive, that taps into the motivation of people, that engages people and utilises their potential. In future HR needs to be strict in order to be strengthened many things that happen in HR don’t need to be HR payroll to finance, legal work to the legal team, so HR can focus on creating great places to work.
HR role in creating the right organisational structure for agile teams? HR teams will change there will be new roles like agile workforce planners, career coaches, talent scouts in the HR teams these roles will change how we interact with people. When we start out we are not that worried about the organisational structure because hierarchical levels are seen as a bad thing, the problem is that we actually help avoid a lot of the stuff considered bad about hierarchy because we empower people so this hierarchical structure is disappearing.
Where do we start: compensation, benefits, performance management, etc? There is no right answer to this, begin with a HR retrospective then decide where is the biggest value, where is the biggest need to address things, you create a prioritised backlog and that’s where you start. There are different ways it can be approached and you need to find where is the best place for your organisation, the key is to get started even if it’s a small step it’s a step in the right direction.
Performance management cycles are generally annual or semi-annual in agile where would the performance management cycle align? Move away from annual or semi-annual goals there is no way you can know what the goals will be for the next 12 months the world changes too fast to do that. It’s hard for employees to follow those goals if they are too far ahead.