Make the agile transition work! And what HR can do to support it...

These are my notes on Maike Goldkuhle’s session at XP2017 on HR and Agile. I wanted to attend this session because there is very little said about the role of HR in agile transitions.

A Global company

Started an agile transition in 2012

3 phases of the agile transition

  • sharing is caring
  • reduce hierarchical thinking
  • break with old rules

Phase 1: Sharing (feedback) is caring

or let MANY build your organisation !

when starting an agile transition, people don’t have experience, so sharing is important and managers are in the way for that

many organisations have an annual feedback process, which is in fact an appraisal process

we split the feedback process in many different tools and made it distinct from the appraisal process

Team Feedback Session

  • make it a feedback process for the team (not the manager saying …) : replace old feedback processes - install new feedback process
  • run, run, run feedback training !
  • let feedback be facilitated

Contribution Matrix

  • we cut of from the feedback process more like a performance process
  • something like a skills matrix
  • it will include not only technology part but also a soft skills part
  • let the team define needed skills and competences based on product or business needs
  • include regular review process for skills and competences
  • include standardised sections like: contribution to team performance, motivation, sharing knowledge or …
  • replace former performance rating processes based on manager decisions - start contribution matrix for performance rating

Development Coaches

  • he needs to be the goto person who cares about your development
  • install coaches who focus on individual development needs
  • max people to take care ~ 30

phase 1: when people get in touch with agile

Phase 2: Reduce hierarchical thinking (also structures)

or grow ALL your people

Vacation planning

  • we started with a process that all companies have
  • abolish management function for approvals
  • we removed all team leaders => have a rotation of the persons clicking the acceptance, it didn’t matter who clicked the acceptance, it has just to be done

install team calendar for absence transparency

the team organises the vacation themselves on defined rules

we took away the management decisions and made it a team decision

=> nobody needs any more to go to the manager

benefit: growing self responsibility

Budget for team training

  • derive from the overall training investments a per head budget
  • give this per head budget to the team
  • team defines rules on how to organise training based on the provided budget
  • they know what they know and what they need to know

if you have certain guidelines or policies: don’t make new ones, just relate to the existing ones

benefit: growing business view

Recruiting & Onboarding

usually the manager started the recruiting process together with a recruiting team

as the manager has been removed, the team defined a representative as hiring manager (the guy knowing the domain/skills necessary for the open vacation)

new headcount is approved for a team

recruiting team owns the process, counsels and guides hiring managers, knows the salaries

hiring manager cooperates with the recruiting team and decides for the team on the hiring

we also include a coding session in the hiring process (people are usually very good in explaining what they can do)

benefit: resulting in sustainable teams

In this phase: try to eliminate management decisions

there is still management to decide on the budgets

only they are not sitting in the production teams any more

cleverly split up the things that need to be in the team, and the things that can be outside the process

Phase 3: Break with old (or common) rules

or unleash the power of ALL employees

Team Bonus

  • abolish individual bonus systems in teams
  • take this money and convert it into a team bonus structure
  • discuss and define team goals

benefit: improves fulfilment of goals

Merit Money

  • in the teams that are more mature, more senior
  • team bonus is granted
  • let a facilitator moderate the session and help the team find their merit money rules
  • let the team split the bonus: everybody in the team gets 1000 EUR, the rest is distributed by the team to individuals that the team think merits the most

benefit: resulting in growing business view

Salary Transparency

  • don’t focus on technical skills in Contribution Matrix
  • fair salary: getting a fair salary internally is quite easy, but when recruiting external people because of competition, always disrupts the fair salary plan

=> company performs a benchmark of salaries in the outside world and increases internal salaries in this regard

Firing People

teams can initiate this

but it starts with complaints in retrospectives, complaints to scrum masters, development coaches

eventually HR tries to relocate the person in another team, sometimes this works because the skills better fit

the good thing is: it again creates transparency on the fact that performance is important and there are a lot of people involved in the process