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Meaningful Careers and Growth (Agile HR – Q&A Series Part 4)

Posted By Fabiola Eyholzer, Tuesday, December 20, 2016

This post is part of the Q&A Series: Agile Leadership Webinar «Agile HR | People Operations»

We recently hosted Agile HR expert Fabiola Eyholzer for our Agile Leadership Webinars. In response to the high interest, Fabiola is answering an aggregation of the great questions we received from participants during the webinar. Click here to watch full webinar.

In this part, Fabiola answers your questions on careers and development for Agile teams. If you have a question you would like featured in our Q&A series, please submit to chudson@scrumalliance.com.

 

What are the ways in which HR/managers can promote people in Agile?

The meaning of promotion is changing. Modern careers are more about personal choices and meaningful growth than climbing a (fast-disappearing) hierarchical ladder. Every person has a different understanding of growth. For some people, it is taking on a leadership role, whereas for others it is to deepen their T-shaped skills. In an Agile enterprise, we respect individuality. We strive to make the best match between individual aspirations and corporate demands. Consequently, career paths are becoming more fluid, multifaceted, and individualized than ever before.

 

What is the career path in Agile?

Instead of a predefined career path, we offer an adaptive growth model. Naturally, there are career paths that are more common than others. A programmer is more likely to become a senior software developer than a ScrumMaster. But the opportunity is there.

A catalog of prospective role-based career paths illustrates the most typical growth options. But it does not limit the options. And HR combines that with a continuous dialogue about growth and opportunities. That way you are aware of your options and can keep them open. Some companies even mandate a rotation of teams at least every three years.

 

Roles in Agile teams are limited. How does HR help motivate a team member without any change in the role?

Obviously, we acknowledge experience. Our reference roles reflect various seniority levels (like senior Agile coach). But the motivation does not come from promoting people. Instead, we create an inspiring and engaging work environment with great learning opportunities. We offer exciting work, amazing colleagues, and meaningful growth.

 

Who is responsible for a career?

You are. Agile is all about the principle of self-management. But employees are not only empowered when it comes to their work. They are also in charge when it comes to learning and development. HR and leaders provide the necessary platforms and support, but employees decide for themselves how they want to structure and approach their learning and growth path according to their own understanding and needs.

 

What do you do with older employees almost ready to retire?

We engage with all employees in the same way, no matter how long an employee has served in the labor market. Everyone in the company is valuable, otherwise we would not employ them. We still discuss where they stand, where they want to go, and what they need to get there.

Naturally, the growth profile will differ depending on a person’s circumstances. A new parent may want to take on a role with limited travel needs and a highly flexible schedule. And someone with an upcoming retirement may want to switch from a leadership to a mentoring role.

 

How can HR be more knowledgeable about the work an employee has accomplished, so as not to have to blindly depend on feedback from managers?

We previously argued for a shift from traditional performance management to iterative performance flow. Part of that is eliminating employee appraisals and decoupling HR instruments (like compensation and promotions). We no longer rate people and document results on outdated goals. Instead, HR engages in career coaching to help employees create and improve their career and growth profile.

 

How can HR be a career adviser to an employee?

Career advisers act as trusted mentors, consultants, and representatives of people within the organization. They engage in a continuous dialogue with each employee individually. They collaborate to create and manage a personal career and growth profile.

This equips HR with a completely new knowledge and understanding of their current and potential talent pipeline. HR no longer depends on a rating from an annual appraisal, because they know people’s talents on a personal, authentic level.

 

How does Agile workforce planning and talent scouting work?

Workforce designers collaborate with the epic leads to assess current and upcoming allocation needs. They know what new initiatives are coming up or if others are being canceled. They partner up with talent scouts, who identify and connect talents across the organization.

In other words: Workforce planning is about understanding and meeting the needs of the organization. Career coaching is about understanding and boosting the growth of employees. And talent scouting is about matching the organizational needs with the aspirations of people. The three go hand in hand and are the key to building a successful talent pool and offering fluid careers.

 

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About Fabiola:

Fabiola Eyholzer (CSPO, SPC 4.0) is an expert and thought leader in Lean/Agile People Operations the 21st-century HR approach and CEO of Just Leading Solutions, a New York-based consultancy for Agile HR.

Feel free to connect with Fabiola on Twitter (@FabiolaEyholzer) or LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/fabiolaeyholzer).

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Tags:  agile  bonus  compensation & benefits  culture  development  digital age  employee engagement  eyholzer  future of work  hiring  human resources  learning  people operations  practices  principles  reward  scrum  talent  talent acquisition  talent management  transformation  values  work trends 

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Shifting to Iterative Performance Flow (Agile HR – Q&A Series Part 2)

Posted By Fabiola Eyholzer, Thursday, November 24, 2016
Updated: Monday, November 21, 2016

Shifting to Iterative Performance Flow (Agile HR – Q&A Series Part 2)

This post is part of the Q&A Series: Agile Leadership Webinar «Agile HR | People Operations».

We recently hosted Agile HR expert Fabiola Eyholzer for our Agile Leadership Webinars. In response to the high interest, Eyholzer is answering an aggregation of the great questions we received from participants during the webinar. Click here to watch full webinar

In Part 2, Eyholzer answers your questions about performance management in Agile organizations. If you have a question you would like featured in our Q&A Series, please submit to chudson@scrumalliance.com.

Performance cycles are generally annual or semiannual. What cycles are appropriate in an Agile world?

Considering the accelerated pace of today’s business world, it is increasingly difficult to set meaningful goals on an annual or even semiannual basis. We need shorter cycles with an optimal balance of responsiveness, predictability, and reliability. Iterations are the new performance cycles.

Many organizations are doing away with the bell curve. What are your thoughts?

I absolutely agree. Bell curves (a.k.a. forced distribution, staked rankings) are demotivating, unnecessarily aggressive, and damaging to human relationships. Ten percent of Fortune 500 companies have already eliminated employee appraisals. Among them is GE the original champion of the bell curve.

Can eliminating appraisals demotivate a good employee from giving her best?

Quite the opposite. Objectives are replaced by meaningful stories, annual reviews become an ongoing dialogue, and improvement plans turn into interactive learning and growth. By doing this, we are engaging with people on a completely different level. That is inspiring for people and taps into their intrinsic motivation.

What is the most effective way to evaluate and get feedback of an employee?

In Agile, we don’t want to “evaluate” people. Instead we want to be forward-looking and focus on strengths. What we want to do with employees is more important than what we think of them. Every people leader must be able to answer questions like, “What would we do if that person quit today? Would we try to keep them and if yes, what would it take?” That requires them to have regular dialogue to discuss personal learning and growth potentials.

What do you mean by continuous feedback?

Relentless improvement is an integral part of any learning organization. Feedback conversations cannot only take place once or twice a year. We need to fundamentally increase the frequency but also the intensity and quality of feedback. That means shaping a culture of mutual respect where candid dialogue and continuous feedback is consistently happening. Feedback comes in different forms and structures. But feedback is not something only given from manager to subordinate. The power of feedback is in everyone’s hand.

Do you think 360-degree feedback could successfully take over traditional appraisal?

No, it cannot. A 360-degree approach is often lengthy and inadequate. We assume that ratings measure the performance of the rate, but they actually reveal more about the rater. Studies show that 62% of a rating depends on the individual rater. The actual performance only accounts for 21%A 360-degree approach with many raters does not rectify that it remains an inadequate appraisal.

What criteria should be used to evaluate people and teams in an Agile setting?

The focus is no longer on assessing individual goals and looking back. Performance flow is about continuous improvement not only on a personal but also on an enterprise level (a part neglected in traditional performance appraisals). Agile ceremonies like reviews and retrospectives are all about inspecting and adapting.

We measure results to understand where we stand and whether we are moving into the right direction. It also helps us be accountable. Key performance indicators (KPIs) become indicators again. And we don’t measure things to set compensation and shape a career. An example: Velocity is an invaluable indicator. But it makes terrible appraisal criteria for compensation and promotions. That is why we decouple performance management from HR instruments.

If we have seven business units, and each unit has its own portfolio manager, how does HR evaluate each portfolio performance? What are the criteria to do that?

It is not the task of HR to evaluate (portfolio) performance. This is the responsibility of Agile Teams and teams of teams. As criteria, they choose a set of metrics that gives them the data needed to continuously inspect and adapt.

What role would HR play in helping individuals improve their performance, if any?

We empower people to be in charge not only of their work but also of their own development. That is why HR takes a supporting role. HR assists leaders, acts as career coach to employees, and provides active learning platforms. The latter includes embedding knowledge building into the work flow. Examples of this are FedEx Days, hackathons, Wicked Wednesdays, etc.

How do you report someone who is not engaging or acting as part of the team? How do you handle situations where an individual negatively influences the team?

Performance (and behavioral) issues must be dealt with immediately there is no point in waiting for an annual review to come up. Agile Teams often handle challenges directly or, if need be, engage the help of their ScrumMaster or Agile coach. Other cases are escalated to the manager, and he or she must act. And, yes, this may mean transitioning people to a different team or releasing them back into the work space. Such a decision cannot be delayed (the motto is: “Hire slow, fire fast”).

What type of paperwork do you provide or fill out for performance reviews via iterations? And how does HR collect the data?

There are different types and levels of documentation and not everything is reported to HR. Ongoing feedback between manager and subordinate, as well as among peers, is between the involved parties. We want the focus to be on the feedback part, not the implications it has on any HR instruments. Agile Teams document some information in their retrospective; other interactions go undocumented. More structured feedback loops typically only involve a message to HR that the conversation or exchange has taken place. HR is not privy to the details. But HR is documenting the individual learning and growth profiles.

What kind of transition do you recommend?

An iterative approach. It starts by analyzing the current process, clarifying the reasons for change, and describing the desired outcome. The book Below Expectations: Why Performance Appraisals Fail in the Modern Working World and What to Do Insteadby Armin Trost, provides valuable tips to guide that discussion. This helps to identify and verify possible methods that might work for the organization. Any chosen solution must be aligned with their corporate values and Agile/people approach. 

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Fabiola Eyholzer (CSPO, SPC 4.0) is an expert and thought leader in Lean/Agile people operations the 21st-century HR approach and CEO of Just Leading Solutions, a New York-based consultancy for Agile HR.

Feel free to connect with Fabiola via Twitter (@FabiolaEyholzer) or LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/fabiolaeyholzer). 

Tags:  Agile  bonus  compensation & benefits  culture  digital age  employee engagement  eyholzer  flow  future of work  hiring  human resources  learning  people operations  performance management  practices  principles  reward  scrum  talent  talent acquisition  transformation  values  work trends 

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Gamification of Talent Acquisition (Agile HR – Q&A Series Part 1)

Posted By Meghan Robinson, Thursday, November 17, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Gamification of Talent Acquisition (Agile HR – Q&A Series Part 1) 

This post is part of the Q&A Series: Agile Leadership Webinar «Agile HR | People Operations». 

We recently hosted Agile HR expert Fabiola Eyholzer for our Agile Leadership Webinars. In response to the high interest, Fabiola is answering an aggregation of the great questions we received from participants during the webinar. Click here to watch full webinar. 

In this part, Fabiola is answering your questions on hiring for Agile teams. If you have a question you would like featured in our Q&A Series, please submit to chudson@scrumalliance.com

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How do you encourage recruiting managers to "go agile" with their hiring approach?

Building a vigorous workforce starts with identifying, attracting, and hiring the right people. But finding top people is increasingly demanding: 8 in 10 organizations already have difficulties finding great talents and unfilled positions cost the economy around US$ 160 billion a year. [Source: Insight Foresight 2015, Bounty Jobs]

Hiring professionals are familiar with these challenges. That is where Agile comes in: Agile is the new way of working - and the success rate of Agile speaks for itself. That makes Agile a strong magnet for talented people; and a company can build on that to create a strong employer brand and a high-quality recruitment process.

What is the difference between a job ad and a value description and why is it important?

An agile team is an interdisciplinary team that thrives on people from different backgrounds and characteristics working together. They bundle their collective strength and embrace diversity of thought. It is their experiences, skills, and mindsets combined that make them successful. The team becomes more important than the individual player and that must reflect in the way we advertise a job.

Traditional job ads focus on individual tasks as well as the individual and their background and skills. Agile value descriptions are different: They focus on the purpose of a team and tell the story why it was created. They talk about contributions and value; and reflect the behavior and attitude you are looking for.

How do you interview candidates for agile teams?

We have all heard (or even had to answer) traditional interview questions like these: Why should we hire you over the other applicants? If you were a superhero, who would you be? How honest are you? Etc.

The problem is: None of these questions help you understand how the attitude and cultural fit of a candidate – nor does it give them a good sense of your organization and what you stand for. Instead make sure to use questions that give you a better understanding of their agile fit and shows them what you care about. Here are some examples:

  • How successful have you been at partnering with others to generate creative solutions and plan collaborative strategies for success?
  • How did you course-correct when encountering roadblocks?
  • Were you able to flex your behavior when you realized the path you were on was not working?
  • What have you learned from success and failures in your career?

 How can we assess if a candidate has an agile mindset?

Professional expertise is important. But Agile teams prosper when they hire candidates with the right mindset. After all, their success depends on the collective and collaborative skills of the team.

The best way to test that, is by getting the team and the candidate together and have them work together. Hiring hackathons (with or without coding) are a great way to see your talents in action and experience first-hand what it will be like to partner up with a candidate.

And if you have several teams looking for new hires, join forces and organize something on a larger scale. This helps team building and boosts your employer brand. Because participants (internal and external alike) will leave (exhausted, but) energized and tell their friends about it.

Why do you suggest the hiring decision to be taken on team level?

Hiring in an Agile Enterprise is no longer about finding people with the right resume, but the ones who can match their expertise with the ability to thrive in a self-organizing responsive team. Talent acquisition must become a highly interactive and team-based approach.

That means, no hiring decision should be made without the backing of the team. After all, no employee can thrive without team support. It must be a shared responsibility; and the team must actively be involved. Or in other words: Agile is a team sport; consequently, recruitment must be a team sport too.

When the hiring authority is at the team level, what does HR do?

Creating a winning workforce is a core HR assignment. And even though they are not making the final hiring decision, HR guides and supports a hiring and onboarding process that is in line with agile thinking. They create a strong employer brand and act as people liaison to candidates.

As talent scouts they proactively (and continuously) connect with internal and external talents. HR has a deep understanding of the organization and its changing needs; and knows about upcoming vacancies and opportunities and match that with the talent pool.

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Fabiola Eyholzer (CSPO, SPC 4.0) is an expert and thought leader in Lean | Agile People Operations – the 21st century HR approach – and CEO of Just Leading Solutions LLC, a New York-based consultancy for Agile HR.
Feel free to connect with Fabiola Twitter (@FabiolaEyholzer) or LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/fabiolaeyholzer). 

Tags:  Agile HR  Talent Acquisition 

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AgileCareers is dedicated to connecting Scrum and Agile organizations with qualified, passionate Agile professionals. We strive to Transform the World of Work by offering a platform that has the resources and technology to help build those professional synergies.