What is Agile HRBP and ways to Agile HR Transformation


In a world where business is increasingly becoming Agile in problem solving, how can HR be left behind so now a days HR projects are executed in an agile manner, parallel tracks with outputs which are seemingly good for pilot before a large roll out.

Agile approach has an advantage as has been seen even in the Business side of the world where Agile is fast replacing waterfall approach. With the dynamic business environment its necessary to test the solutions before rolling out and thereby course correct too. This approach is helping organizations look at problem solving in a whole different way with focus on evolving approach and solution on the fly. 

While we look deeper within HR, one area where Agile would really help is the place where HR touches the business – Business Partner role is seemingly the biggest beneficiary of this approach. Before we see how, lets delve a bit deeper into what an Agile HRBP could mean

“Agile HR Business Partner drives change by executing on transformational agenda for the business and enhancing the employee experience and driving business impact as a result of this”

This is my way of looking at Agile HR Business Partnering. Some key elements to note – Change, Experience and Business impact. We should also note that the three are interconnected as one leads to another in a transformational initiative.

Why does HRBP need to be agile? To answer this let’s, look at the evolution of HR Business Partnering, what started as a one stop solution to transactional support for business has evolved into a change agent, strategic adviser and a partner (in that order). This shift in responsibilities of business partner has a lot to do with the change in business environment as well.

Let’s evaluate some key factors that accelerated this change

  • Dynamic and unpredictable business environment – Unlike past when one engine could pull the business together, in this dynamic VUCA world businesses need to fire on all cylinders and that’s what makes each business division as important as the business overall

  • Growing recognition of talent as a key differentiator – Many surveys have talked about how talent is the number one priority for CEOs and that’s really impacting the way talent initiatives are being seen across the organization. Its no more a lip service

  • HR has strategic perspective and value add – While there was never a question about this, the proven impact HR has been able to drive in some of the new age organizations like Google, Facebook, Zappos and many more has made the case for investing deeply into HR more than ever before.

  • Business Partnering comes of age – Today business partners are no more transactional or reporting support to the business, they are driving the change in partnership with the business helping organizations achieve their talent outcomes and drive the talent agenda proactively.

  • Technology Shift – We are at the cusp of an interesting change with conventional solutions evolving to cloud and new solutions based on AI, Machine Learning and Mobile enabling whole new use cases for HR. Gamification and Consumerization of user experiences are key trends driving HR today.

Below figure shows the evolution of HRBP model as well as is a depiction of how both business and HR competencies can impact the HRBP outcome.

The shift to Agile HRBP is where the intersection of business needs and HR talent is high. This model needs a highly agile and participative HRBP and therefore its important to examine a few elements important for a person who would be playing this role

Change Anchor

The person is not just a change agent but an anchor for change, driving organization and business leaders into accepting and initiating change where necessary. Ability to recognize future trends, business parameters and talent needs is key to be successful in this model.

Talent is the Driver

Talent needs drive the change for the business. So in the role the agile HRBP can predict what talent imperatives would drive the acquisition, development and retention of talent

Experience Counts

Experience is the key when designing interventions, focus on key initiatives and drive impact but not to forget the way the same in delivered to employees is the key of ensuring a great experience. In some ways the person needs to be very comfortable with technology as technology is the enabler of the employee experience most of the times.

Thinks Macro and Micro

That’s a rare one but the ability to the see the big picture and drive smaller bits of changes without upsetting the business rhythm is the key, Anything that is a change for the sake of change will never go the distance

Commercial and Savvy

We have often heard how HR is about marketing the solutions and at no times than today its more apt. The way the solution is packaged, branded and implemented is as crucial as the design itself. Any HRBP who fails to recognize these elements will not be able to effectively deliver on the last mile outcome

This in no way was meant to be the laundry list, this is a list of key attributes that are assuming increasingly high importance in the new scheme of things. HR would continue to evolve as businesses evolve and would keep on adopting newer ways of addressing the challenges that are at the fore front of the business. Till another refresh happens and I write about it, I am signing off . I would be humbled  to receive your thoughts , critique , suggestions and feedback.

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Amit Avasthi, Head Human Resources, Emerging Markets at Larsen & Toubro Infotech Ltd . He is leading HR strategy in APAC, ANZ, South Africa, and the Middle East region. Prior to joining L&T Infotech, Amit was spearheading Global HR Strategy for HCL technologies. Amit has spent over 6 years with HCL in various capacities. Prior to HCL, Amit has also worked with E&Y and Aon Hewitt Consulting. An alumnus of Symbiosis International University, Amit has spent over 17 years delivering business impact at top-tier organizations spanning both Industry and consulting.



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