HR (Human Resource) describes the “total performance potential (performance reserve) provided to a company by its employees” (Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon).

The skills of the individual employees are decisive for the success of the company and form the supporting framework of the respective company. HR management (HRM for short) or HR marketing is therefore a crucial discipline that is of significant relevance for the sustainable success of a company.

On the other hand, in order to find agile employees, agile HR is needed – i.e. personnel marketing and personnel recruiting that does not react, but acts in a targeted, flexible and active manner on current economic events. Agile HR can therefore refer to both agile human resources (the agile employee) and agile HR management. In this case, the latter is dealt with under the term .

Agile HR for the company

You certainly know job ads with titles like “Agile software developer wanted”. But what defines such an agile employee and how does HR have to define itself in order to find motivated, flexible people for the company?

Classic vs. Agile Organization (Own summary based on a table in Gloger & Häusling)

The agile employee no longer trades within the classic positions that used to apply in companies. Rather, agile personnel, combined with a flexible, passionate willingness to perform, bring skills that “go beyond the box”. Agile HR must therefore be aware of the changing events in order to find the agile employee of tomorrow and thus install long-term agility in the company.

Agile HR as a discipline

Own presentation based on Gloger & Häusling

In the meantime, companies are increasingly recognizing the enormous relevance of a good HR department. Clearly measurable values exist here, unlike, for example, in the finance department, but not necessarily. The KPIs are defined quite clearly by the CFO, but the value added of HR is only readable between the lines.

However, companies today do not fail in many cases due to a poor order situation. Rather, it is the pervasive shortage of skilled workers that is causing immense difficulties for companies. More efficient employees are worth gold. This applies to humans, just as to the machine in an industrial company. But of course, this is not just about the amount of work that the (agile) employee creates – it is also about the value that is worked out in the respective time. Agile systems offer opportunities to optimize processes sustainably. Thus, of course, HR management in the company as a discipline is rightly given more and more importance and the competence of HR is included in the long-term planning.

The agile career

How do you create an agile career? With the definition, Gloger and Häusling provide initial approaches: Instead of the strictly linear organization of companies, there should be agile teams consisting of agile employees. In this team, the employees get involved with their extensive competence and experience without having to be afraid to leave any area of competence.

agile career models
As the two representations (Niels Pfläging) show, the classical organization of companies follows a linear principle that seems very static compared to an agile organization. Modern, agile organization in companies relies on interdisciplinary teams of agile employees. In this organizational model, executives take over the metaorganization of these teams.

While a linear system prevails in the traditional corporate structure that has few to no opportunities for agility, modern, agile companies are based on more dynamic organizational models that rely on interdisciplinary teams and executives for the metaorganization of their respective teams – based on the Scrum Framework.

agile career
professional career as an alternative to a leadership career. This could be an agile career (own presentation based on Gloger & Häusling)

The role of HR management

As the illustration from Gloger & Häusling 2011, p. 35 shows, HR is of course also facing new tasks in the course of the agile organisation. For example, HR management has to recruit employees who fit into agile systems as a personality not only because of their expertise, but also because of their character. Thus, the focus is on team performance, goal-oriented and meaningful action, as well as cooperative behaviour.

Agile HR
Tasks of agile HR (own presentation based on the idea of Gloger & Häusling)

Agile HR must therefore find personnel who ad absurdum the original definition of HR (human resource). For example, management’s view of employees as a static resource that can be compared to a machine must be transformed into a promotion of the respective talent in order to initiate agile processes and be one step ahead of the competition.

The transformation to agile HR

But how do you convert an HR? In this way, company-wide processes and entire career paths need to be changed. So there are profound changes to the company. I would like to present a Best-Pratice below.

Agility HR
Introduction of Agility – Step Model (own representation)

In the first step, the knowledge of agility is conveyed to your own HR team and agility is made so to speak palatable. Agility is therefore first lived in the shadow of one’s own team. Once this has been achieved, this can be communicated to management and the first niche projects can be undertaken with opinion leaders in the company. Agility thus reaches the niche first. After some successful projects, skeptics can also be involved in the process, free according to the motto: “You just do the Scrum-Master now!” After they have also been infected by spirit, the cultural change in the company takes place quite automatically.

Reading tip: Recommendations for action on the shortage of skilled workers in small and medium-sized enterprises

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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Verwendete Quellen anzeigen

Gloger, B., & Häusling, A. (2011). Successful with Scrum – Influence Factor Human Resources Management: Finding and Retaining Employees in Agile Companies. Munich: Hanser Verlag.


I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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