IPMA International Project Management Association
11 April 2018 / 7:14

HR-Report 2018 with focus on agile organisations

This year´s HR-Report of Hays and the Institute of Employment and Employability of the University of Applied Sciences in Ludwigshafen focuses on agile organisations (The HR-Report 2018 in German language is available via: https://www.hays.de/personaldienstleistung-aktuell/studie?friendlyUrl=hr-report-2018-schwerpunkt-agile-organisation-auf-dem-pruefstand). Agile organizations are characterized by a high and fast adaptability to changing conditions and market situations. Flexibility in terms of adapting products, processes and above all the employees with their competencies are decisive criteria for successful agile organizations. Agile organizations are networked to a high degree and the employees organize themselves. In addition, the work and project teams are able to make autonomous decisions to a certain extent. This requires a culture based on trust – the trust of leaders in their workforce and among employees.

The agile organization is already very important to approximately half of the respondents. Their significance will rise sharply over the next three years: 69 percent expect the agile organization to increase in importance by then. So far, however, in the majority of companies only selective implementation in the direction of agile organization can be found. The preferred area is IT (17% of companies), the most important method being used is Design Thinking. As a hurdle on the way to an agile organization, the respondents consider above all rigid internal processes and processes (36%), but also a lack of employee willingness to change (31%). Given the challenges facing companies, the change towards agile organization seems beneficial to the business. From the point of view of respondents, this will increase flexibility (55%) and speed (51%), as well as better networking (46%) within the organization.

The challenges in agile organisations from an HR perspective are the following:

Increasing flexibility of work arrangements and working hours: Processes and processes down to the last detail block the way to an agile organization. They are in support of “silos” and constantly create new interface problems. In the future, however, it will be about networked and integrated approaches in which the focus is on customers rather than internal process manuals. Working hours require a higher level of flexibility. In order to retain employees, the focus is now on individual approaches depending on the employee’s life situation. This gives employees more freedom – combined with a high level of coordination in the teams on site.

Considering social skills in careers: Currently, leadership careers are still being developed through specialist skills. In the future, social and communicative skills will be the decisive factor. They are crucial for leadership taking on a new role and strengthening employees’ personal responsibility.

Changing leadership styles: Above all, leadership should promote the personal responsibility of employees. It means to say goodbye to “command and control” and give space to manoeuvre for employees. To enable this paradigm shift, communicative skills are needed. They include openly dealing with critical issues.

Clarifying responsibilities: In many organizations there are areas of tension between agile forms of organization and traditional line organization. To reduce this, it must be clarified who is responsible for topics and projects, as well as who leads the employees. This must be communicated transparently to all involved.

Despite agile organization and digital transformation: In this year’s HR report, employee retention is the top HR topic of the respondents. First and foremost, employees can be bound by a good working atmosphere. Making working hours more flexible is the second most important instrument, followed by market-based pay. The fact that employee employability is one of the top three topics for the first time reveals that the demographic development and the shortage of skilled workers as well as the rapid pace of change in organizations is having an effect. Employees come first.


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Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.