“It’s not the strongest species that survives, not even the most intelligent, it’s the one that can best adapt to change.”

Charles Darwin

The development of an agile company is a profound transformation process. At the beginning, there is usually considerable resistance and anxiety among employees and managers.

How can HR management, as a key driver of change, support the implementation of agility in the enterprise? Some selected fields of action are described below.

Living an example and sensitizing

Personnel management can serve as a role model in the organization. An agile personnel organization means:

  • a clearly regulated routine organisation for standard services, based on business-oriented processes and instruments.
  • Structures for interdisciplinary project teams in which HR topics are dealt with.
  • A reduction in the tool burden of personnel work: It is not important that a specific instrument such as a performance assessment is used, but that an HR task is completed.
  • Instruments must be tailored to meet the needs of internal customers interdisciplinary and disruptive personnel projects: Scrum-like approach, short feedback and briefing events.
  • Sensitizing top management to this topic, e.g. practicing elements of agile irritation in top management events: This includes emotional feedback, and plain text meetings, etc.

This “agilisation” of HR minds can be achieved by networking with science, with counselling, through discussion circles beyond one’s own guild. Looking beyond the end of one’s nose and the customer perspective (external, internal) are further starting points.

(Project) organizational structure

The active organizational development away from hierarchical line organization towards flexible
structures and agile project management needs impulses.

Human resources management

  • supports the piloting of agile project methods.
  • creates the technical and infrastructural prerequisites for projects to be carried out in a can be implemented anywhere in the world and the necessary knowledge for all project members can be is available, enables managers and employees to deal with
  • agile project methods, e.g. simple ones, small methodical impulses, like.
  • Introduction of a daily stand-up morning meeting in teams:
  • while standing, the team members report on what they are currently working on.
  • introduces new roles in projects: product manager, work team and support manager
  • enrich the project organization analogous to Scrum enormously and lead also in classical Acceleration projects.
  • supports the implementation of work planning with Kanban boards: The visualization of the and the status of the
  • work brings clarity and transparency and ensures a
  • high level of resource efficiency
  • promotes the implementation of retrospective meetings: Regularly practiced, it can be used to Better evaluation of
  • learning experiences and constructive use of errors.

HR tools

The provision of flexible learning opportunities and tools is an important prerequisite, e.g. web-based knowledge platforms to strengthen the expert knowledge of employees and to exchange knowledge among each other. Systematic feedback systems, training on the job offers
and job rotation throughout the organization offer attractive opportunities for employee training and development.

Personnel management provides for the corresponding concepts, which make a necessary flexibilization of the work (time) models possible under these conditions. Remuneration and incentive systems should no longer be based on individual performance, but should promote teamwork and cooperation.

Appropriate work-life balance concepts support the acceptance of agile companies by their employees. It is also necessary to send signals against the self-exploitation of the employees, e.g. by the rule: No mails answer after 20 o’clock, rest periods for telephone contacts.

Corporate culture

Agile organisations represent an image of human autonomy and assume that the employee is basically willing to commit himself, that he wants to and can make decisions and that there is room for manoeuvre. Personnel management has the task of taking this image of man into account in all its activities.

The most important values of agile companies are

  • Mutual trust: Employees and managers show mutual trust in each other’s commitment
  • Tolerance for different thinking
  • critical ability in the sense of consciously questioning one’s own solutions and cautious critical practice in the sense of constructive feedback
  • Reflexivity, understood as a conscious confrontation with one’s own person, the triggers and consequences of one’s own actions.
  • curiosity in the sense of a discovering, open understanding of the world
  • Commitment in the sense of the will to participate in the shaping of something superordinate


With the new requirements, the role of managers is changing They are no longer experts and drivers, but rather:

Enabler by providing the required resources Coach for the team, but also for the individual employee Mediator between team activities and corporate strategy.

The task of personnel management is to initiate or moderate a process in the company in which this new understanding of leadership is trained. This change includes the self-image and guidelines of leadership in an agile company, the preferred leadership styles used and the changed self-image as a manager.

Bottom line

Personnel management can be an essential driver and success factor of the agile organization in the fields of action described above. This requires a fundamental change in personnel work and an active, sometimes provocative, creative role in personnel management.

Sources and further information

Agility barometer 2017: Companies in DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) are so agile. A study by Haufe Verlag
DGFP practice paper. Best Practices 01/2016: Agile Company – Agile Personnel Management (German Association for Personnel Management).

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