Performance Appraisals in Agile

Most of us do the exercise of rating team members every year even if we know that software is built by teams, not individuals. Moreoever, each individual needs to actively collaborate to produce quality software. This means that everyone on the team needs to take collective ownership and help each other, because the motive is not to be a hero but to build an end product of the utmost quality and predictability.

This article proposes a 11 points process to assess individuals in an Agile way:

  1. Determine goals for every individual. These goals need to center on the individual — for example, how can he or she achieve these goals and become better at software creation?
  2. Create an appraisal backlog for the individual, with goals and acceptance criteria for each goal. Capture the information about how and why the tests for these goals are failing at this point in time.
  3. The product owner for this backlog should be the mentor for the individual. He or she will prioritize the goals at this stage.
  4. Now the mentor needs to assign story points to various goals.
  5. The mentor is free to add more goals to an individual’s goal backlog after due discussion with him or her.
  6. The mentor and individual need to identify a sprint length, after which they will review the product backlog and have a demo.
  7. Next, the sprint’s backlog will be derived on outcome of this sprint.
  8. In the demo, make the acceptance tests pass and qualify the goal as done.
  9. In the ultimate performance review, one could look at the matrix of goals and qualified acceptance criteria. This matrix should capture the information from every iteration/month.
  10. As we saw in earlier approaches, it is extremely difficult to compare one project to other.
  11. Count the number of goals met/exceeded/far exceeded. This matrix can then be used to calculate performance ratings in a transparent way.

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