The Changing Role of HR in the Agile Organisation

Granite Consulting host regular extraprofessional activities such as networking sessions and personal development training, as part of our commitment to value, service and community.

Granite Consulting’s Breakfast Networking sessions are a nutritious start to the work day.

If you are interested in attending future Granite Sessions, please register with Chelsea McDonald on

Granite Consulting invited Human Resources professionals across Melbourne to attend an insightful Breakfast Session facilitated by Agile Specialists Stephen Dowling and Emma Sharrock.

It’s clear Stephen and Emma are passionate about Agile. Their dynamic partnership makes for an engaging and enthusiastic discussion, keeping participants talking about their findings long after leaving the building.

As a recruiter, we see candidate CVs peppered with the word “Agile” on an hourly basis. Someone has worked on Agile projects. They use Agile. They are looking for Agile environments. They are Agile. Unfortunately, it can be just another buzz word.

What is it to be truly Agile? According to Emma and Stephen it is worth starting with the dictionary definition: “the ability to move quickly and easily”. For those who have studied this way of operating, you’ll know it’s about simplicity, and starts with mindset and beliefs.

Agile is a people orientated mindset. At your core, you believe the success of an outcome is directly proportionate to the people involved. Agile puts people first, for the betterment of an overall common outcome. Agile allows people to collaboratively decide what the goal is. People collaboratively decide how to achieve it and collaboratively decide the value framework which should be followed. All before arriving at the do-ing stage. But the first step is having the best collaborators to begin with.

Early in the session, Stephen made a point he had noticed Agile resonated more in some organisations, and the way to ensure this was to focus on HR professionals. For him, a company’s Human Resource team is the “lever in the organisation”. They are the Champions of (arguably) the most valuable ingredients in any successful team: People, and Culture. (I don’t know about you, but I have Queen’s “We Are the Champions” cranked up to 11 in my head right now)

These Champions attending the session spoke about what they are doing right now to enable a more Agile organisation.
“Values based recruitment” produced many “hmm’s” of agreement from others in the room. One company had invested in a Visual Management Board. This professional shared there was initial wariness from staff with the concern “Will my stats be up there on that board for everyone to see?”
“Now”, she continued, “Everyone loves it”.

My personal favourite, one participant engaged the services of a play-based improvisation advisor for a team building exercise! One of the activities was around answering the question of how to make their colleagues look good.

Why does professional scrutiny like having stats visible to your collages on a daily basis spark initial fear, but lead to something positive in the office? How does helping your colleague look good play into the bigger picture of the Agile methodology?

The answer, according to Emma and Stephen, is around “psychological safety”, and “making people awesome”. Naturally, “awesome-ness” needs to be defined on a case by case basis. That’s a collaborative team building activity in itself, but this feeds into actively shifting our brains from the hardwired position of being negative.

When teams have their retrospective look on progress over a period of time, it’s common to ask “what went wrong?”. An important question to touch on, but in Stephen and Emma’s view, leaders should spend more time answering “how can we magnify and replicate what went well?”

Which is exactly what you’ve been reading about – things going well, such as the breakfast session on the changing role of HR in an Agile environment. How to replicate it?

By hosting another!
We would love to see you at the next one.

For more in-depth learning into Agile, Granite Consulting recommend Emma Sharrock’s book “The Agile Project Manager’. You can purchase it here