Measuring each individual's performance for evaluation purposes

Last post 06:54 pm January 3, 2020
by Daniel Wilhite
18 replies
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12:12 pm December 25, 2019

Hi,

I'm currently working as a Scrum Master on a startup company. The company's executives are planning to give an annual increase to each individual (mostly are software developers) based on their performance. The company CTO asked me to propose a way how we can measure each individual's performance without compromising Scrum values. Basically, a performance measurement method that fits an agile team.

I would like to ask how do you do this in your organization?

Many thanks!

Everard

05:36 pm December 25, 2019

What skills or competencies are in most demand, across the organization, for “Done” work to be produced in a month or less?

What does each individual do to improve the ability of the organization, and its teams, to deliver Sprint increments of genuine release quality?

08:23 pm December 25, 2019

If you're measuring story points, then the easiest way to do this is to see which engineer turned the most story points into Done increments in a year.

The other way is to prioritize by the most valuable features which were deployed, and then to identify the individuals who did the most Done work for each of those features. Often times, it's easy to see who the rockstars are on a team, and who is just cruising.

09:23 pm December 25, 2019

Does measuring and rewarding people individually helps with achieving teamwork that we (I hope) seek and want to 'create'?

Does the Scrum Team (try to) deliver story points, features or value? If you measure one of those in order to give a bonus or a salary raise, what impact on people's behavior it can make? 

10:01 am December 26, 2019

Is your CTO open to conversation ? Do you feel you can ask why does your CTO need to measure individual's performance ? What does your CTO try to achieve ?

05:22 pm December 26, 2019

Well, basically, to give proper and fair compensation thru salary increase and profit share to those who performs well and to those who are not. To those who asks why the need for measuring individual's performance, I would really appreciate it if you can share how you do the employee evaluation on your organization as basis for salary increase and promotions.

Thanks Mark Adams for your input, I can include it on my proposal to the executives :)

01:39 am December 27, 2019

Mark idea is pretty good to identify the star players. However, do give credits to those staff that give ideas and support the scrum values. You might want to separate tangible and intangible attributes to form a basis of your Agile performance review framework. I appreciate those that willing to give ideas in the Scrum ceremonies and to bring synergy to the team. It is important for you to get a reference from the current performance review framework. Scrum did not teach you how to do performance review as it really depends on the organization.

 

03:26 am December 27, 2019

Maybe your company can start on them providing inputs on what they contributed to their line managers. Create smart objectives for the next year, thru collaboration with your managers.

I disagree on using story points as a unit of compensation because it might become a competition on working on higher story points regardless of its priority so as to have a higher points at end of each year.

I would rather give an option on one of the metrics on how you help your team mate fix a problem or issue or what skills they have developed for this year and what are their plans for next year. Gives flexibility for management to see what their employees' plan/vision are. 

09:17 am December 27, 2019

Why not ask the team members?

10:31 am December 27, 2019

@Everard Onggon, here is a nice article that sums some things up as a start point to more digging: https://mozaicworks.com/blog/do-agile-teams-have-performance-reviews/

Also, I believe that on this forum were similar topic: https://www.scrum.org/forum/scrum-forum/13381/individual-performance-scrum-enviornment, maybe there you will find more answers.

For me, the word 'Team' has more meaning than only a 'group of people'. The sum of our performance / work / interactions is greater than each individual score that member has on their own, therefore we should at most look at a team as a whole. Leaving evaluation on a team level to themselves (we could offer / show a team some approaches how individual performance could be 'measured'), which IMO will lead to even deeper self-organization as a team.

However, salary and bonuses are delicate topics, and there is no silver bullet approach to them. A lot will depend also on the country, its culture and history that shapes people minds in that regard.
 

03:21 pm December 27, 2019

I really appreciate your inputs. I'm currently collating them. Hopefully, more ideas will be added to this thread :-)

03:37 pm December 27, 2019

Thanks Piotr for sharing the articles. 

09:08 pm December 27, 2019

I would follow Lars' suggestion - take it to the Development teams. If you are a Scrum Master, facilitate the conversation with the teams to get their buy in.

06:15 pm December 28, 2019

I would also suggest to put this thing to dev team to deceide. They sure now who contributes the most.

Also, I think, this is one of the PAL I assessment question and sure needs to all have good understanding what is the best option.

04:04 pm December 30, 2019

This was discussed a few weeks ago. A SM was charged with telling management which devs were doing well to give end of the year bonuses. 

Some practitioners on this forum are against singling out high-performers for one reason or the other. 

Story points are relative so someone that sizes high would have a natural advantage over someone who sizes conservative. 

Taking it to the teams is good but you may have people shy to speak up.

My suggestion is take each team member one on one. Ask some creative, pointed questions like "Which team members actively help other team members on a daily basis? Are there any team members that are doing really well?"

Obviously it depends on your relationship with your team but I've found most people are honest and want to reward people that go above and beyond. 

Give everyone a bonus based on following scrum. If the team is doing well, they deserved to be rewarded. However, if someone is continually staying late, helping others, showing great professionalism, reward them. If they all do it, split it evenly. 

Hope this helps!

 

07:54 pm December 30, 2019

I am going to respectfully disagree with everyone that said individual achievement is based on the work that a single individual achievements.  Take this example...

A senior developer has been working at a company for 5 years.  When they were hired they already had more experience than anyone else on the staff.  Over the last year this individual did not write a single line of code that is included in any of the products being delivered to external clients.  Their contribution has been:

  • Aiding the Product Owner's understanding of the technical demands for implementing and maintaining the code to support the product's value
  • Mentoring junior developers in coding practices that increases their abilities to produce higher quality code
  • Working across product teams to introduce consistent practices that will enable a developer from any team to better understand the places in which code integrates
  • Improving the deployment process in order to make it easier and safer to deliver product changes to production environments
  • Working on building an better framework for executing automated tests so that code quality can be assessed faster and consistently.

How would using Story Points determine this individual's raise? 

If an individual's performance must be assessed, the Scrum Master's job is to assess it as it relates to the team's accomplishments.  How is this individual making the team better?  How is this individual's activities negative or positively impacting the team's ability to deliver incremental value to the end user/stakeholder? Agile, not just Scrum, is dependent upon having cross-functional, self-managing teams. Teams should be rewarded and not individuals. Unfortunately there are very few organizations that have evolved enough for that.  So if individual behavior is to be rewarded it should be in such a way to promote team participation and not individual efforts or heroics.

If I were in your position, I'd suggest ways of rewarding team behaviors.  How about providing a bonus to every team member that was involved in delivering the greatest value to end users that could be tied back to the profits seen by the company?  Each individual salary increases should be based upon the achievements of the items contained in the job description that is associated to the individual's title.  Those descriptions should provide context to the expectations of the individual that has that title and additional salary compensation is tied to those descriptions.  Rewards such as bonuses should be tied to things that provide extraordinary benefits to the company and in an agile environment, those come from teams not individuals.

08:21 pm December 30, 2019

Daniel, your wisdom is apparent and abundant. You are spot on about story points. But what happens on a team when someone consistently goes above and beyond. You're paying/praising them the same amount of someone who doesn't do as much. 

And it happens. There are performers out there who do more. 

Some of the devs get on their phones throughout the day. Some devs stay late. Some devs chat and chat and chat. Some devs put their nose to the screen and don't look up. 

Rewarding those who grind it out, who consistently stay late and who do a ton of work should be praised and singled out. 

Maybe that's the caveat. Give the team the bonus but if there's a shining star, point them out by giving them just a little bit more. 

05:23 pm January 3, 2020

Rewarding those who grind it out, who consistently stay late and who do a ton of work should be praised and singled out. 

Are you suggesting that effort and time spent should be valued over teamwork and competency?   Should a junior programmer who struggles and works 60 hours/week be perceived as a "shining star"?

We should be very careful, as promoters of Agile, in elevating Utilization above Value Delivery.

06:54 pm January 3, 2020

We should be very careful, as promoters of Agile, in elevating Utilization above Value Delivery.

I love that statement from @Timothy Baffa. But remember that delivered value can be in the form of helping a team or organization be better.  It does not have to be in value delivered to the stakeholders.  Sure Scrum is about the stakeholder value but careers are about the individual and this discussion is about encouraging and recognizing career growth.

Why does reward have to be in the form of a money?  What if those extraordinary individuals were awarded by giving them some time to work on a side project or a green field research project?  Or recognizing them to the entire company during an corporate event?  Possibly create a periodic (monthly, quarterly) recognition award that is given based upon submissions/voting of the organization? The prized parking spot right by the front door with the "Engineering Hero of the Month" sign in front of it?  

Rewards do not have to be monetary.  Create ways of recognizing people based upon the input of the larger organization.  Often these rewards are valued more than just money.  Sure more money in your bank account is nice but so is the recognized respect of your peers.