The Journey to Agile (From the HR Perspective)

The agile job market is hot right now. It’s a natural by-product of so many organizations realizing the nimble and efficient project management benefits of moving to an agile framework.

But what does that mean for Human Resources?

Historically, HR’s role has been to maintain order through communication of company guidelines and expectations, along with locating and securing talent that fits with the company culture and finances. When a company goes Agile, a lot more changes than the format of the staff meetings in the Development team, but HR is still the hub of all personnel-related decision-making and governance.

Agile transformations affect how teams are organized, the skills and training required to fill those teams, and how talent is managed in the organization. It’s important for HR to not only be on board for the transformation process, but to really be a driver of the transformation by knowing what to expect.

New Career Paths

As a company undergoes an agile transformation, a number of traditional roles must be adjusted to streamline teams and allow for a more agile workflow. This also means new roles are created and must be filled with qualified candidates.

HR will be asked to assess the company’s current talent pool and sketch out where different team members can and should be moved to fill the necessary slots as soon as possible. This requires intimate knowledge about which employees are truly agile and which ones are agile in “name only,” possibly in an attempt to keep their position.

HR should be able to identify Agile specific requirements like:

    • Which agile certifications are most important


    • Which employees truly have Agile experience


    • How to hire a senior for a senior Agile position


Before going down a generic list of who is the most experienced, consider a training session geared specifically to show what employers need to know to line up the appropriate personnel.

Updated Job Descriptions

The traditional Employee Handbook will likely become outdated as you transition to Agile. In an Agile environment, employees must be more collaborative, flexible and able to adjust their goals on a day-by-day basis. Strict rules and definitions HR may have automatically included in a job description may need to be massaged to allow for maximum agility.

Documentation tied to particular jobs will need to be updated and edited to accommodate the expectations of the individual’s role in the new agile framework, with attention to keeping the definitions loose and flexible (since quick mobility and employee empowerment is a large part of eventual agile success).

Establishing a “Learning Culture”

In addition to adjusting for new and improved roles in the organization, HR will be asked to take the lead in developing a “learning culture” in which employees are encouraged to expand their knowledge, stay possibility oriented and get comfortable with ambiguity.

A truly agile environment will benefit from employees who are willing and able to let go of the need to control, collaborate and adapt as new iterations in product development arise. HR can see to it that employees have the instruction and the support necessary to make the transition as comfortable and rewarding as possible.

These are just a few of the ways HR can support – even drive – the journey to agile.

To learn more about HR’s vital role in this process, consider signing up for our online workshop “Agile for Human Resources Professionals”.