How HR can develop agile employees

Ensuring staff can weather continuous change is now a key responsibility for many HR professionals.

How HR can develop agile employees
Rapid change has become par for the course in today’s modern world and it’s now more important than ever for organizations to have an agile workforce that can weather the ongoing storm. Here, one leading HR figure explains how companies can achieve it.

“There needs to be an organization wide cultural shift to truly ensure that a given company’s employees are agile and flexible,” says Susanne DiCocco, partner of people and change services at KMPG Canada.

“If we examine organizations that are the best at doing this, it starts with leadership recognizing that we operate in an environment that changes at a fast pace and disruption is always around the corner,” she continues.

According to DiCocco – who’s also a qualified executive coach – an agile culture starts with leadership setting the tone with both behaviours and performance metrics.

“Setting the example on demonstrated behaviours from leaders and underpinned with metrics that reward the desired behaviours is key,” she tells HRM.

“As an example, if you want to promote innovation, make sure you have positive metrics that reward innovation and risk and not punitive metrics based on success or failure. If you want a collaborative culture, ensure your metrics reward team behaviours and not focus on individual rewards.”

Targeted training is also critical to ensuring employees can manage change, says DiCocco.

“Being equipped with the right skills and tools to manage change, and the associated psychological ‘transition’ is important when dealing with uncertain times,” she stresses. “When employees are taught what to expect during a transition phase and how to deal with the impacts of transitions, the implemented change is much more likely to be successful.”

Lastly, Calgary-based DiCocco says all processes and procedures should reflect the culture that HR is trying to achieve.

“The organizations best at following processes and procedures are usually lacking when it comes to flexibility,” she explains. “As an example, military organizations require more structure and command and control than flexibility. For this reason, these organizations have strict processes and procedures; this also means that it is therefore difficult to have a flexible and adaptive culture. 

“In contrast, software design companies are usually very flat, have autonomous teams, react to change very well but lack procedures and bureaucracy.”

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