September 10, 2018

Agile HR

We'd better start by saying "human" is not a "resource". Simply considering specialists in today's business life who require high concentration, motivation and creativity as a "resource" is just like seeing these persons as "battery like people" who are identical to each other and who can fully replace each other as in the Matrix movie. Namely, in a little exaggerated statement, we can't form a team by saying "give me 2 digital marketers, 1 digital salesperson, and 2 software developers from there". I guess we all know this already. Stating clearly, the “Human Resource and Management" perspective created by the traditional management approaches is not valid since long.

For the reasons I mentioned above, let's first continue correcting the title; Agile Human Resources, there is no such thing :) Nevertheless, we shouldn't be so nervous about this usage because the current usage is still "Human Resources" for many people. This expression will work for now to create a common basis for agreement around the subject matter.

Yet, let's proceed by changing this name within the scope of this article. Let's continue with a name that would be more suitable for the Agile working style, which fully incorporates human at its heart, instead of the mechanical processes and procedures. For instance, should we say, "Employee Happiness Office"? Of course, another better alternative may be found, but I think it's a name that expresses our focus in a better way for the time being.

Well, did we become Agile once we change the name? Of course not. There is a lot to do apart from changing the name, indeed. Let's quickly list with simple examples how the Employee Happiness Office could support this journey of transformation into an Agile company;

  1. Distribute Your Responsibilities to the Organization

Interview techniques and competence in an agile organization should not only be the job of the Employee Happiness Office specialists. Therefore, develop the interview skills of the Agile teams and organization leaders in the entire company, and encourage them to be more active in the interview processes.

  1. Stop Thinking in a Function-Oriented manner, Focus on Talents

Involve the individual with different talents in the recruitment processes in your company so as to discover not only the individuals with knowledge and experience in a certain field, but also those who have different talents and who are promising. For example, in recruiting software developers, of course, those who are knowledgeable in that job should attend the interview process, but this is not enough. Agile organizations consist of teams where individuals with different talents come together. Therefore, it wouldn't be enough to evaluate the candidates in terms of a single competence. Interviews with the candidate and evaluation should be conducted by the respective Agile team, which will work with the candidate. If possible, stakeholders of the business with whom that team works should be involved in the process, too.

  1. Finding Talents is a Continuous Job

Do not place job postings concerning the instantaneous needs, hunt continuously for talents. I recommend you to review the Zappos Insider application for a good example. It should be noted that forming good teams is not easy, and team formation starts with recruitment. Therefore, recruitment processes are crucial, and you need to spend sufficient time and effort.

  1. Renew the Orientation Processes

In the beginning of the article, we had said we shall not treat people as a battery. Accordingly, it is therefore impossible to immediately "plug" a new starter in the system and start to use him. Like the recruitment process, the orientation process is also one of the most important steps so as to convey the company's working style and culture. In this sense, I recommend you to review the 4-week orientation process of Zappos.com for a good example. However, I'd like to share a small thing with you before you start searching yourself. No matter who start at whichever position at Zappos.com, all the beginners undergo the same orientation, and certainly each beginner stops by the customer services and experience answering customers' calls.

  1. Support Evolution of Managers into Leaders

We need leaders who coach individuals to be able to develop the individuals' talents around their own capabilities instead of managing/controlling them. Trigger transformation of managers into coaches and leaders.

  1. Performance Development, Promotion and Positioning

Unfortunately, this is a quite long subject. However, the statement that will explain this idea in its shortest form is as follows; I guess, we need to get rid of performance management and any kind of promotion and position structuring which involves hierarchy. This ideal (which you may have thought to be utopic) is of course a difficult goal. I hope I can explain what I mean here some other time in another article in detail. Nevertheless, I need to say that, if we think about what the starting point can be before reaching this ideal, we can mention about taking the first steps with the studies involving the competence-based salary policy, and establishing a badge system for this, distinguishing between salary increase and reward mechanisms from performance.

  1. Focus on the Living Culture:

It's quite difficult to design the culture of a company, because culture confronts us as the full reflection of the daily operations, practices and behaviors in the company. A way of working (culture) which does not suit the Agile mindset will be the greatest and difficult obstacle to becoming an agile company. Therefore, the studies are very important for cultural change. However, culture is not a phenomenon that can be changed by writing sexy words on the walls or defining with a few presentations. The culture of a company is created by collective practices and behaviors in the daily workflow, not the discourses or cool phrases. Therefore, it is necessary to work on the living points of culture in the daily practices. Wonder how? There is not just a single way of doing this, but if you are interested, I recommend you to read the ValuesJams and Values Practices Map subjects.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/agile-company-identity-mehmet-yitmen/

Happy work!