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Optimizing HR Support For Agile (Team) Management

NON-FINANCIAL TEAM RECOGNITION

All team members feel that their personal work and the team’s work results should be recognized, valued and appreciated by management in a meaningful way that is fair to the team and each team member.

  1. It is very important to visibly demonstrate to all employees the outstanding results achieved by a team and how they have directly affected the department and/or company’s business performance.
  2. Appropriate management personnel should attend and lead the formal recognition of the team’s efforts at team results celebrations, award ceremonies, promotions, and so on. The recognition should emphasize the business importance of the team results and how the company’s business values were best illustrated by the team’s collaborative work efforts.
  3. The team’s efforts should be memorialized in appropriate plaques, pictures, cups, trophies, paperweights, etc., so that team employees can proudly and permanently display them in their workplaces for all other employees to see.
  4. When the accomplishments of various team projects are continuously recognized over a period of years, there is a substantial long-term benefit of illustrating and connecting the company’s culture of employee engagement to the achievement of key department and/or company financial and operating business results.
  5. An on-line recognition program gives management the opportunity to recognize all team members regardless of their geographic location. However, to the extent possible, the physical presence of each team member should occur at any major recognition event.

REMOTE TEAM MEMBER INVOLVEMENT

Many teams will utilize team members who operate in another location and/or country.  When this occurs, many critical team operating procedures take on even greater importance so that vital team collaboration and trust occurs in support of the project’s business objectives.

  1. The initial team meeting (and periodic key follow-up meetings thereafter) should require the physical presence of all team members. A resume or background document should be prepared for each team member that explicitly details their past experience, and team role and responsibilities.
  2. The team’s overall effectiveness will likely be tied to the trust and collaboration among all team members. To the extent possible, plan the remote team member’s work activities so that they are interacting with the other team members on various key tasks as much as possible.  If needed, perhaps a “buddy” can be assigned for critical tasks.
  3. The team’s overall business objectives, priorities and estimated project time schedules should be clearly stated in writing.
  4. With each remote team member, the Team Leader should identify any potential language, time zone or cultural issues in advance of the initial team meeting so that appropriate corrective action can be taken to resolve or mitigate them.
  5. The Team Leader should regularly contact the remote team members regarding his/her role and responsibilities to ensure their full engagement.
  6. The Team Leader should conduct non-scheduled, informal conversations with remote team members whenever appropriate, but especially when upcoming critical tasks are near their due dates.
  7. The Team Leader should provide clear and concise written instructions on the specific tasks assigned to each team member.
  8. It is even more critical that the Team Leader set up task goals, monitor progress and provide feedback to remote team members, even more so than local team members. Use Skype, WebEx or Google Hangout to facilitate this feedback.
  9. The entire team and individual team members, especially the remote team members, should operate on a known schedule of regular team meetings and individual team member meetings.
  • Assignment discussions with individual team embers at the start of the workweek to clarify upcoming work tasks, potential problems and concerns.
  • Weekly feedback meetings with individual team members and, if appropriate, the entire team.
  • Monthly teleconference team progress meetings.
  • Quarterly management reviews.
  1. Conduct informal, team building activities and celebrations are various major points in the schedule when key project deliverables have successfully occurred.
  2. Develop a written family tree of internal and external contacts with appropriate contact information for the easy use and access of all team members.
  3. Determine the workflow platform that works best for all team members, such as OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox and so on, and the project management platform, such as Microsoft Projects, Asana or Slack.

TOP MANAGEMENT ENDORSEMENT

  1. If it hasn’t occurred already, HR management should research AG and, with the CEO and top line management, develop a specific proposal for its implementation.
  2. The CEO and top line management should then define, preferably in writing, the company’s AG strategy in support of its overall business strategy and fully endorse all aspects of its implementation. The AG strategy should emphasize the business necessity of implementing rapid and effective change in an effort to achieve the company’s financial, operating and strategic business objectives, thereby creating more employee engagement and job security.
  3. The company’s overall business strategy should outline its specific financial, product/market/service strategy, AND its specific agile transformation emphasis on appropriate items such as innovation, competitive advantage, customer experience, product development, technology, speed to market, market responsiveness, sales servicing, continuous improvement, operational excellence, product quality/reliability and scalability,  employee engagement, among others.
  4. CEO and top line management should invest in an appropriate amount of employee and team training funding that is needed to adequately support its AG and/or team project strategy.
  5. Project-related employee and team training efforts should MOVE AWAY from a large emphasis on basic management skills, leadership styles, and unrelated interpersonal skills, and MOVE TOWARDS an emphasis on the practical technical/job skills, trust and collaboration skills, and problem-solving skills that are needed for project success.
  6. A management “Champion” should be assigned to each project from at least two or three organization levels above the highest level of current management on the team.  Whenever appropriate, a “Champion” from top management should be assigned.
  7. Much has been written about any team’s authority versus management’s existing command and control structure authority. In this regard, each team should include a member of the existing departments involved, while having the total and complete authority to pursue its objective.  However, after the project’s recommended solution has been approved, key team members should remain active in its implementation until it becomes fully accepted as the new norm.

SUMMARY

Implementing radical business change rapidly and effectively has reached the level of business necessity for most companies to remain competitive.  To facilitate this business change, the use of cross-functional project teams to solve complex operational and strategic problems has evolved to the place where it is now commonplace in most companies.  Therefore, HR must be able to support the implementation of these team projects as part of its responsibility to support the company’s line organization.

Historically, HR has strived to overcome its reputation as strictly an administrative function in an effort to demonstrate its relevancy to the company in the achievement of its financial, operating and strategic business objectives.  By implementing the above team-related HR practices in support of the company’s overall business strategy, HR can become more directly involved with the company’s financial and operating mainstream, thereby demonstrating its business value while greatly improving employee engagement.

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Jack Bucalo
Jack Bucalo
JACK has led the Global HR function for a Fortune 500 and 1000 international company and several other large international companies. With four years of line experience complementing his HR experience, he believes that the CHRO or HR Leader should play a more direct role in helping the CEO to achieve the company's business objectives and strategic goals, while effectively implementing its administrative duties. In doing so successfully, the CHRO or HR Leader can become an equal business partner with his/her line management peers while becoming more directly involved in the company's operational mainstream, rather than being just an administrative afterthought. As a pragmatic practitioner, Jack publishes detailed and actionable articles on a wide variety on critically-important HR issues on BIZCATALYST 360°. He is also on the advisory board for other web sites. Jack's over 20 years of executive-level HR experience for which he was responsible for company, executive and Board-related matters, form the basis for most of viewpoints.

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