In the first part of this article, we defined what Agile transformation is and what Organizational Culture and Organizational Climate are in that context. We also saw how Agile Transformation is a 3-dimensional change that affects the Execution Culture across (X-Axis) and deep (Y-Axis) and also the Climate/Mood (Z-Axis) of your organization.
We elaborated how the leadership in ALL execution teams that partner in this transformation has the responsibility to carry themselves and their teams through this cultural shift. At the same time, its the HR leadership’s responsibility to sense the Organizational Climate as the cultural shift occurs and support the teams with appropriate interventions to maintain a healthy environment of learning and growth.
Having an appreciation of how Agile impacts people, their roles and their responsibilities is key to designing how Organizational Climate is assessed and how as an organization you respond to it. The remainder of this article focuses on how Agile Transformation impacts the focus areas of assessment and also the intervention areas from the assessment.
What to assess in Organizational Climate for Agile Transformation?
Typical assessments of Organizational Climate focus on how well people understand their roles, their growth trajectories, skill requirements, confidence in the leadership and the effectiveness of the feedback process that leads to professional growth. It would also look at feedback on compensation and benefits, rewards programs and other softer aspects like diversity, values and alignment.
It will now be evident, that with Agile transformation inverting the ownership model in your teams, the traditional notions of growth, skills requirements and definitions of leadership will change. Assessing the team’s confidence of the leadership has to shift from their ability to direct, to their ability to coach. This also needs to be paired with finding out if teams are sensing an increase in their ownership domain as well as their comfort with it. It will be important to understand how collaboration between people of different skill sets are affecting team morale and power distances. Quite paradoxically, if you sense your organization doing very well and comfort on all these change dimensions, you could well assume that Agile transformation is NOT going right; it could also be a indication of fear to communicate the reality in your organization — a fundamental flaw that will kill your Agile Transformation journey.
How to engage the organization with Organizational Assessment?
A redesigned Assessment framework that accommodates Agile mindsets will help the HR organization support the leadership to influence the Climate. The lazy approach to use the Climate assessment is to ask leadership to go easy on those areas that are causing discomfort to the teams even if they are “growing pains” of the journey. E.g. if the teams complain that managers are not engaged in the day to day tasks of the team and resent the “aloofness”, a direction to managers to revert to be more “engaged” will be the exact opposite of what should be done to drive Agility. Conversely, if managers are complaining that there is lack of clarity in their “vertical growth”, it may a good sign and call out the need to refine the roles and responsibilities of the management layer towards and incentivizing servant-leadership.
To re-iterate from the last article, the Climate is the effect and NOT the cause – so, it derives that each team now has to have its own understanding of the climate and work on what behavioural aspects to change. The teams themselves or the managers on their own may not be able to chart the next steps — Agile coaches must be engaged to help understand which pains are Agile friendly, and help the teams navigate them. Unfortunately, Agile Coaches are not considered part of the people leadership and kept away from understanding these aspects. HR leadership has the opportunity to influence this unfortunate status quo.
Another key aspect of the Organizational Climate is rewards and recognition. As organizations move to Agility, the move towards team goals, and collective ownership takes precedence over individual glory. Its important to appreciate this shift and use the Organizational Climate to gradually shift the organization to become more accommodating to losing “individual glory” and promoting “team success”.
In conclusion, the transformational journey to Self-Management using Agile as a framework is a long and arduous one. It requires enlightened leadership to guide the teams to the new Organizational Culture and partner with the HR organization that’s keeping a close watch on the Organizational Climate.
There are NO shortcuts, but with team work from ALL the leadership, the complexity can be handled step-by-step, iteration by iteration, quarter by quarter. Its a like grand orchestra and when there is alignment between the players and the conductor, you will hear the initial cacophony transform into a symphony that your organization will wonder how you ever lived without.