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Make the Change- Agile Human Resource Management

22 May 2013 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Janani Rasanjali
Adaptability and Responsiveness is a highly acclaimed characteristic in business world.  Changing customer needs and mounting competition can only be won by managerswho can lead their workers to respond the changers in an agile manner. But there are circumstances management and HR processes are too slow, they don’t reflect business changes fast enough and they don’t give people fast-enough feedback and learning. There are some inherent problems when trying to manage a dynamic world with static processes.
  •     We cannot predict the future.  Need to set goals with proactive plans to address changes  
  •    Feedback takes place continuously.  Meeting a milestone or making a mistake needs to be addressed with feedback immediately. As it gets older it becomes less useful, and eventually becomes irrelevant.  
  •     Goals change continuously. How to prioritize with changing business conditions?
  •     Performance feedback comes from all directions. Today most workers are in highly distributed teams and likely to get 360 degree feedback.  As workers get continuous feedback managers clear the room for continuous improvement
  •     Long-term training needs could be obsolete.  With the rapid evolution of technology it is quite hard to analyze long term training needs. Workers need to learn quickly and adapt.

Incorporating an element of agility into the HR function allows it to be nimbler and helps create an organizational culture that’s more responsive to the needs of customers. An agile organization is one that’s able to change direction quickly and easily, and HR needs to be responsive to the ever-changing needs of such an organization.



Agile methodology
The whole idea of agile HR is believed to have originated as a result of the increasing popularity of agile software development, a methodology being used to develop and enhance computer applications through a continuing, iterative and collaborative process that seeks to make incremental changes on an ongoing basis. The four values of agile development are adaptability, transparency, simplicity and unity.

How Agile fits in Management and HR:
  •     The annual development planning process replaces with - an ongoing coaching relationship is an “agile” model for leadership.
  •     Traditional annual rewards and bonuses are replaced with continuous recognition and social recognition systems are an “agile” model.
  •     Traditional formal training and certification replaces with rapid e-learning and informal learning is an “agile” approach.
  •     Traditional annual performance appraisals replace with continuous feedback and recognition is an “agile” approach.
  •     Top down cascading goals are a replace with approach - rapidly updated “objectives and key results”.
  •     The annual employee engagement survey is replaced with continuous online idea factories and open blogs are an “agile” model for employee engagement.
  •     The traditional recruiting process isreplace with a continuous process of social recruiting and referral-based recruiting which can be rolled out in a few hours.



Scrum framework for Agile methodology
Scrum is a very handy tool, an agile framework that allows self-organizing teams to focus on delivering the highest business value in the shortest time. Using iterative development, it allows us to rapidly develop and repeatedly inspect working software every two to four weeks (a sprint or iteration). Scrum Teams are self-organizing, cross-functional team. They develop a deep form of camaraderie and a feeling that “we’re all in this together. This increases team spirit & sense of responsibility.




Scrum in nutshell:
Sprint

A sprint is a short fixed length development cycle (between 1-4 weeks) whose purpose is to deliver small chunk of useful output to the customer. At the end of every sprint the customer tests progress made. This provides room for customer to make changes of his requirements and also for the working team to address the changes in next sprint.



Product backlog
A prioritized list of everything needed done to fulfill a specific endeavor



Product owner
The product owner is the person understands the customer needs. Maintain and prioritize the product backlog.They’re ultimately responsible fulfillment of the endeavor undertaken



Scrum Master
The scrum master is the grease that allows everything on the team to run smoothly.
He exists to remove roadblocks from the way of team.



Scrum work flow board
Workflow board is a very handy artifact used in scrum methodology which increases the engagement, transparency in the team. Each team has got their own workflow board.
  •     Done–Cards pile up over here when they’re done.
  •     Accepted–the work that have been accepted by a member to work
  • Ongoing (work in progress)–Any task being worked on goes here.
  •     Waiting – The task which have halted temporally due to impediments such as waiting for information/feedback


Events (all events in Scrum are time-boxed)
Sprint Planning Meeting
  •     Select the stories ( A small unit of work which has a certain business value) the team believes it can commit to in a sprint
  •     Break the stories down into tasks and provide estimates for those tasks


Daily Scrum/Standup
  •     Scrum master uses the information from the standup to update burndown chart illustrating progress
  •    Answer the three questions – “what did you do yesterday”, “what will you do today”, “do you have any roadblocks”
  •     Team members share progress with other team members (not the manager)
  •     Anyone may attend, only team members (people with skin in the game) may speak
  •     Fifteen minutes maximum - typically held standing up in front of Work flow Board - helps keep the meeting focused - side conversations are taken offline.


Sprint retrospective
  •     Use retrospection techniques to find potential for improvement.
  •     Team reviews what went well and what went poorly.
  •     Pick one or two areas to focus for improvement.


Bottom-line
It is undeniable that the technology shapes the way we think and behave. From desktop to laptop to tablet to iPod, technology is changing so rapidly. Organizations need to venture into plans to embrace the changes proactively than making a stampede. Go Agile and make the change. Bring it on!

(The writer is a senior software engineer working for a leading foreign software solution company in Sri Lanka)
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