How HR Can Use Agile Practices During Uncertain Times

Just on the brink of the COVD-19 outbreak in the US, I led a conversation with Hacking HR on the benefits of creating an agile workplace.  Little did I know at the time that just two weeks later I would be pushed beyond anything I had experienced before as an HR leader or even as a human.  As I was reflecting on that session, I realized the impact an agile workplace could have even in these most uncertain times. Below were three key areas that we discussed on the panel and how I think they could help a company be more prepared for something that is totally unfamiliar and unpredictable.

One note – I am using “agile” with a lower case “a”.  I am referring to it as a concept, not the official way of working that is part of Scrum.

An agile workstyle can help companies better adapt to change. The goal of working in an agile way is to be able to test, learn and adjust based on feedback or new information.  This is especially critical during a time of change. Being flexible and being able to adapt based on what is happening at that moment will help the team not be so resistant or slow to react to change.

HR can help companies make the shift to an agile way of working.  As with every aspect of culture and how a company works together, HR can help a company shift to work in a more agile way.  We can be the role model of the behavior. If we approach our projects with a plan to do user research, put together a trial or pilot group, get feedback to see the impact and then roll out more broadly.  Especially knowing that the work HR does has so many variables and our priorities can change within a week, working in a more nimble way will be more efficient. That will hopefully show the value of working in a more agile way to the rest of the organization.

An agile mindset can help the people at our organizations adapt to change.  The best way to help a team adapt is to build it into your values.  For example, at Ordergroove, one of our values is We Drive Results. More importantly, the definition of that value is about driving the outcome, and if we aren’t driving the outcome, being able to change course quickly.  That is part of the agile mindset. It’s already part of our DNA as a company even if we didn’t specifically plan it that way. Find pieces of your culture, mission, values that support an agile approach to working and leverage that as you help your company adapt to change.

I realize now may not be the time to make a big cultural shift with your team with all the other changes happening.  But if there are opportunities to support the above mindset even in small ways, it might help work through this change and set your team up for the next rollercoaster ride.
Bonus video, last fall I was on a different Hacking HR panel discussing how HR specifically can be more agile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrAvXl2l4BA&t=2s

Developing an Agile Mindset
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