Agile had its start in the software development industry. From there, the tenets of “agile” spread to IT and then into other departments. Companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft all rely heavily on agile methodologies. Capable of quickly adapting to change in a rapidly evolving marketplace, agile strategies are challenging traditional HR processes. Adopting agile HR practices can be transformative; as an example, employees can have a greater voice in performance reviews by requesting and compiling multidirectional feedback.
What is Agile HR?
Agile HR takes an iterative approach to processes, performance evaluations, goal completion, and feedback. Where collaboration between self-directed, cross-functional teams working on short-term projects takes precedence, agile HR allows teams to experiment, self-evaluate, and quickly change direction if need be. Trust and collaboration are built into an agile culture.
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Benefits of Agile Feedback
- Employees gain more control over their performance reviews when agile practices are applied to feedback. Instead of meeting only once or twice a year, performance reviews become an ongoing conversation. Employees have a voice in the process — something often missing in annual evaluations, where managers typically dominate conversations. Feedback ceases to be delivered in large, hard-to-digest reviews and is instead delivered in real-time as needed, making it easier for employees to process feedback and move forward on attainable action plans.
- In an agile environment, employees are able to choose when to check in and request feedback, as well as dictate who provides the feedback. They can also offer feedback to coworkers, supervisors, and managers in a manner that is most comfortable for them. The back-and-forth nature of agile feedback creates a level playing field, increasing trust in the manager/employee relationship.
- Agile feedback encourages collaboration and problem-solving, with employees often receiving feedback from team members based on mutual projects. A real-time feedback dashboard allows employees to give and receive feedback at their discretion, alerting each other to possible problems and celebrating each other’s wins.
- Employees accustomed to the give-and-take of regular feedback are better prepared to handle difficult conversations when the need arises, whether the subject is a tight deadline, poor work performance, or asking Sarah from accounting to stop microwaving broccoli in the break room. When feedback becomes a regular, lightweight habit, employees are better equipped to identify and resolve potential problems before they grow into serious crises.
- The ability to access, choose, and respond to real-time feedback empowers employees to pursue professional development goals. Regular feedback helps employees identify their own strengths and weaknesses — information which can be used to drive professional development when discussing career goals with managers.
- Finally, agile feedback has the potential to increase employee engagement. Recent Reflektive research reveals that nearly half of U.S. workers want formal feedback conversations with their manager at least weekly, and 72% want feedback at least monthly. Managers who provide their employees with the feedback they want makes them feel more comfortable and engaged, which in turn increases productivity and engagement.
Agile human resources strategies encourage employees to request and share feedback in the moment, when it’s most relevant, instead of sitting on concerns until their next performance review. The result is a more proactive, flexible organization capable of responding and adapting to employee needs quickly and effectively.
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