The Future of Human Resource Management in an Agile Driven and Automated World

What is the Agile Methodology and Why it is Important?

Wherever we see and look, the business landscape is dominated by news of organizations embracing Agile Methodologies and Automation on a large scale.

These changes in the way organizations operate has implications for all functions and especially impacts the HR or the Human Resource Function as the skills, attributes, and traits that are needed for the workforce would impact the HR profession on the entire end to end HR value chain right from hiring to training and performance appraisals to downsizing and even payroll and compensation management.

Before we proceed, it would be worthwhile to discuss what the Agile Methodology is and how it impacts the organizations.

Agile is a system that mixes all functional roles into a single team wherein each team member is expected to “wear all hats at the same time”.

In other words, Agile teams are those where the team members design, code, test, implement, and support the software so that each team is self sufficient and compact leading to them becoming more flexible, responsive, adaptable, and better placed to meet the demands of the 24/7 world where organizations and the lead times for them to respond to fast changing market conditions makes it an imperative to be Agile.

How Does Agile Impact the Hiring Process?

So, how does Agile impact the HR processes? To start with, hiring would be transformed since organizations would have to hire employees with multiple skills and attributes instead of looking for specialists.

For instance, an Agile team member would need to have design, coding, testing, implementation, and support skills instead of coding alone or design alone.

Thus, what the HR managers need to do is to hire those employees who can simultaneously have all these skills.

This means that HR managers must design technical tests that are not restricted to a specific skill alone and instead, must have the hiring process vet employees on the mix of skills that are needed.

This extends to the Interview process as well since what interviewers need to test is a range of personality traits and skills which are typically found in those generalists that are flexible and Agile, to put it, in multiple proficiencies.

Moreover, aptitude tests and psychometric testing also has to change to reflect the changed needs and therefore, hiring would be a different ball game altogether. Another key point to note is that sometimes organizations might not be fully Agile ready and hence, the HR managers might have to rely on external consultants or to outsource the hiring process to external agencies.

How Does Agile Impact the Training Process?

As for training, Agile organizations need have different training needs than organizations that follow traditional methodologies.

This because as mentioned earlier, employees have to have multiple skill sets in addition to personality traits that are cutting edge.

Moreover, periodic training processes have to reflect fast changing trends and changes in skill set requirements which mean that lead times for HR to organize training would be shorter in addition to the challenge of constantly updating the training schedules and agendas.

In the same manner in which hiring (or a part of it) might need to be outsourced, training too would need significant external assistance if organizations are to get their workforces Agile ready or be more Agile than the competition.

On the other hand, Reskilling for automation and training for Agile both demand organizations to have their HR functions work in similar lines or in other words, be Agile themselves.

This calls for Train the Trainer programs where the HR personnel themselves are made Agile Ready and Agile Compliant which is another Paradigm Shift in the way organizations and their HR functions operate.

Is Agile a Paradigm Shift or Fancy Jargon Laden Term?

Talking about Paradigm Shifts, Agile is one such shift in the long history of business changes.

Thus, one might very well point to previous iterations of changes and leave it as yet another fancy jargon laden term which only needs minimal adaptation and marginal change to the way the organizations and HR functions work.

Having said that, what is really different with Agile is that it combines Automation and Accelerated Response imperatives which are very different from the way previous shifts in organizational processes experienced.

In other words, these sets of changes are as significant as the ones that occurred in the times of the Industrial Revolution and no wonder; the present changes are being referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

To meet the challenges of Agile means the HR personnel too would have to step out of their comfort zones and be ready for an entirely different ball game.

They would also need to redesign the apparently mundane systems such as Payroll and the very important Performance Appraisal system to ensure that the most Agile employees are getting the highest raises and the more flexible and adaptable one is, the brighter their bonuses are.

Ready for The Fourth Industrial Revolution with Agile

Lastly, why Agile needs an entirely new HR approach is that it combines the need for multiple skill sets on a technical level with equally important soft skills which mean that HR managers can no longer overlook lack of technical proficiency in favor of soft skills and vice versa.

Therefore, the basket or suite of skills and attributes that are needed for call for redesign of all HR processes.

In addition to hiring, training, retraining, and appraisal, a new approach is needed for self improvement as Agile employees would need to learn and relearn on the job that calls for different appraisal yardsticks.

To conclude, Agile organizations need the HR function to change with them and preferably, be ahead of the curve than them.

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Human Resource Management