By Jody Harrison and Tashani Davidson

While agile methodologies are traditionally associated with IT and software development, the Agile specialists at QualityWorks are expanding beyond those traditional limits. In this article, we will explore how Human Resources (HR) and Sales can embrace agility to drive success and adaptability in their respective domains and showcase the applicability of Scrum principles beyond software development. By adopting agile practices and ceremonies, HR and Sales departments can enhance collaboration, innovation, and responsiveness to meet the evolving needs of employees and customers.

Benefits of Agile 

The adoption of agile practices brings several benefits to organizations including:

  1. Leadership Development: Agile enables the development of leaders at all levels by fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement. It encourages employees to take ownership of their work and provides opportunities for growth and development.
  2. Enhancing Employee Engagement: Agile recognizes the importance of employee engagement and satisfaction. By implementing programs that empower employees and provide ongoing feedback, organizations can cultivate a more engaged and motivated workforce.
  3. Technology Integration: Agile embraces technology to streamline processes and enhance efficiency. When leveraging digital tools and platforms, departments can automate administrative tasks, improve communication, and provide employees with self-service options.

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What Does it Mean to be Agile in HR and Sales?

Agility in HR and Sales involves a shift from traditional, hierarchical approaches to a more collaborative and responsive model. Rather than focusing solely on implementing controls and standards, HR and Sales become facilitators of organizational agility. Leaders seeking transformation must drive initiatives that foster adaptability, innovation, collaboration, and speed, extending these principles to the sales function as well. By embracing agility, HR and Sales can better address modern challenges such as developing leaders at all levels, managing a younger and more diverse workforce, and enhancing employee engagement and satisfaction. This collaborative approach ensures that both HR and Sales teams are equipped to navigate the dynamic landscape of today’s business environment.

Agile Ceremonies and Key Practices You Can Use to Revolutionize HR and Sales

To embrace agility in HR and Sales fully, organizations need to adopt the following practices:

1. Organizational Structure Shift

When using an Agile methodology, a hierarchy should not exist. Making your team Agile would mean shifting away from traditional hierarchical structures and making your team cross-functional and collaborative.  You can do so by breaking down departmental silos and encouraging inter-departmental collaboration. By creating teams that work closely with leaders from across the organization, they can better address organizational challenges and drive innovation. 

2. Implementing Sprint-based Approach

Sales and HR teams may be accustomed to objectives and key results(OKRs) and likely to be resistant to Scrum. Scrum is an agile project management framework that helps teams structure and manage their work through a set of values, principles, and practices.  If teams implement both methodologies, they can meet long and short-term organizational goals. Teams can use Scrum to break down OKR goals into manageable iterations. Combining methodologies allows for focused effort and adaptability. We want to enable our Sales and HR teams to prioritize tasks, respond quickly to market changes, and deliver value to customers in a timely manner. This iterative approach aligns perfectly with the dynamic nature and enables teams to achieve their targets more efficiently. If teams can move past frequent meetings, this approach can be beneficial. 

3. Embrace Flexible Planning

Decisions are made and change rapidly in these lines of work. Leaders and decision-makers among others must embrace flexible planning as teams should be able to react in real time to new data and information. With flexible planning, teams can respond to change efficiently, deliver more value, and maintain a collaborative and feedback-driven approach. Agile Sales and HR teams may require frequent review sessions and group planning to ensure they are planning for the day accordingly. 

4. Emphasize Transparency 

A lack of transparency can manifest in your teams in ways like using outdated discovery questions, failure to follow the sales and human resources processes, and poor methodology adoption. This creates poor results and can demotivate your teams. Building transparency creates accountability and builds team culture and team performance. Scrum enforces transparency inside and outside the team. Transparency allows everyone to see and understand what is really happening in each sprint. You know you’re being transparent when:

  1. Your team is working closer and feedback is faster
  2. Work that is in progress is visible 
  3. There is a free flow of updated information 

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Valuable Insight from a Scrum Master Perspective in Sales and HR

While serving as Scrum Masters in both Sales and HR domains, both authors, Tashani and Jody, have gained valuable insights that have significantly enriched their approaches to leadership and teamwork. These insights have not only shaped their understanding of Agile practices but have also offered a fresh perspective on effective collaboration and continuous growth for both of them.

Tashani’s Insights: 

The Power of Rigor and Continuous Improvement

The first lesson I’ve taken to heart is the importance of rigor in our processes. Just as Scrum emphasizes, we need to be meticulous in our approach, constantly inspect our methods, and adapt when necessary. This commitment to continuous improvement has brought about positive changes, enabling us to enhance our sales strategies and better serve our customers.

 The Value of Inquisitiveness

In the world of sales, it’s easy to hesitate when faced with unfamiliar situations or challenges. However, I’ve come to understand that there’s immense value in asking questions, even if they may initially seem elementary. Over time, I’ve realized that what might appear as ‘dumb questions’ can lead to profound insights and innovative solutions. In our quest for excellence, curiosity is a driving force.

The Art of Knowing What Works

Lastly, a critical lesson I’ve learned is the importance of discerning what works and what doesn’t. In the fast-paced sales environment, we’re constantly experimenting with various strategies. Being able to identify the strategies that yield results and those that require adjustments is vital. This knowledge empowers us to make informed decisions and allocate resources more effectively.


Jody’s Insights:

The Scrum Master doesn’t have all the answers

As a Scrum Master, I’ve learned the true meaning of servant leadership. I demonstrate this by acknowledging the Scrum Team’s expertise and accepting that I do not have all the answers. This leadership style fosters collaboration, and self-organization while creating an environment where results thrive. Take the leap and move away from Tech. Embrace unfamiliar organizational territories like HR or Sales with curiosity, ask questions, and engage with the experts on the team. This pursuit of understanding bridges the knowledge gap and forges trust. 

Understand your customers, and stakeholders’ needs and expectations when prioritizing tasks

One of the Scrum Master’s key responsibilities is to help the Product Owner understand and prioritize the needs of customers and stakeholders effectively. In this scenario, it would be the department Manager. Try to foster a deep understanding of customer needs, both explicit and latent, and translate them into prioritized product backlog items. The Scrum Master facilitates collaboration between the department team, the Department Manager, and customers to ensure the organizational objectives are aligned.

Similar to tech, the Scrum Master encourages data-driven decision-making. They might use metrics and feedback to guide prioritization to ensure that high-value work is the focus.

Celebrate Successes 

High morale is crucial for the success of any team, and this holds true when transitioning Sales and HR teams to agile methodologies. Working in an agile framework might be a new and challenging experience for these teams. To reduce potential resistance and enhance their performance, celebrate their milestones and successes. Appreciation doesn’t have to be limited to tasks assigned to them. When individuals within these teams feel appreciated and their value is acknowledged, it boosts their confidence and reinforces the value of the agile approach. 


These practices and insights have provided invaluable guidance and reaffirmed the transformative power of Agile principles not only in the Sales and HR domain but across organizations as a whole. They emphasize the potential of sprint-based approaches, adaptive planning, and data-driven decision-making to revolutionize teams, and enhance collaboration, adaptability, and customer-centricity, leading to improved performance and innovation in today’s dynamic business landscape. By embracing agile practices across HR and Sales, organizations can effectively navigate the challenges of the modern business environment, achieving sustainable growth and lasting success.


Ready to learn more? Register now to join our upcoming panel webinar on Agile practices for Operations Teams.