How Can HR Drive The Agile Organisation?

In an ever-changing world where becoming comfortable means that something new is sure to come along and shake things up, it is safe to assume that an adaptable, functional, and agile organisation will come out on top and outpace its competitors.

CEO’s recorded in a recent survey done by Accenture that becoming agile is now their third business priority. This comes in behind managing change and attracting, developing and retaining skilled talent. All of these priorities seem to go hand-in-hand and when used properly, can help to create a highly successful organisation in a competitive and ever-changing world.

Why is agility so important? An agile organisation possesses the ability to anticipate, sense, and respond to changes that can shake up the productivity, market, or overall success of an organisation. This enables an organisation to create competitive advantage and be one-step ahead of others.

So, how exactly can HR drive the agile organisation? By ensuring that the talent within an organisation is nimble and quick to adapt to an ever-changing business environment. Businesses need to start shifting from defined roles within an organisation to allow its employees to help where their skills can be used and to create an environment where collaboration is encouraged. This is where HR comes in. By implementing a performance management strategy where team goals, competencies, and strategies are priorities, HR can enable employees to collaborate, learn from their mistakes, and make their own decisions. This can be achieved by ensuring that communication between managers and employees is always occurring and that leaders within an organisation are being developed to empower their team members.

According to a study done by Accenture, agility can be achieved in an organisation with the help of HR making changes in the following fronts:

  • Mission and Mandate

Move away from the standardisation of roles and behaviours which reduce variability and move towards a focus on improving performance and enabling an environment where adaptability is welcome.

  • Primary Imperatives

Foster mobility, help people discover unknown talent, build an adaptive, ethical, and empowered culture, apply science and fact-based analysis, and develop a learning organisation. These are all things when placed in high-priority will help drive an organisation to be agile.

  • Work, Job, and Career-Path Design

By allowing employees to determine their own roles and tasks based on an ever-changing structure, organisations will allow their employees to constantly and easily apply their skills in new ways as to continue to grow and contribute in ways other than listed in their job description.

  • Talent Management Processes

Customising talent management practices to the individual rather than the job with flexible performance objectives that can easily change based on quarterly targets or group objectives will help achieve agility and keep people ahead of the game and always striving to improve. This enables an organisation’s members to strive to reach beyond basic objectives and to be held accountable in that regard.

  • HR Organisational Structure

In order for an entire organisation to become agile, the HR organisation itself must too become agile. This can be achieved by applying some of the same practices to itself such as continued learning and an effort to be flexible when it comes to basic HR practices.

The bottom line is: in an ever-changing world where businesses are constantly searching for the next big thing or striving to be the next big thing, organisations must be agile and innovative. HR organisations must push their entire organisation to be able to adapt and execute quickly in the face of sudden changes. HR must provide them with the practices and reinforcement to become nimble and agile. Don’t be a stagnant organisation; be agile, be adaptable, be competitive. The results in the end will be more than worth it.

Adapted from “HR Drives the Agile Organization” by David Gartside, Walter Gossage, Yaarit Silverstone, Himanshu Tambe and Susan M. Cantrell, Trends Reshaping the Future of HR, Accenture Institute for High Performance, 2013.




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