Performance Management in Agile Teams and How to Improve It

Performance Management in Agile Teams and How to Improve It

We’re living at an exciting time in the history of work. Everything from the way we design our workplaces to entrenched ideas of organizational hierarchy are being questioned and even rejected in favor of new processes, designs and ideas which favor flexibility, customization and, above all, agility.

One such ingrained concept which is being totally revamped is the idea of the team. Rather than the traditionally static top down teams, knowledge intensive organizations are reformulating this concept to better fit their fast paced environment.

The great thing about this reconceptualization of the team is that there is not one but several new models which are being taken and adapted to fit the needs of the organization. Customization and experimentation are key.

team-network-infographic
Source Deloitte University Press

However, the unique characteristics of these teams also means that they don’t necessarily fit into standard HR processes, especially the annual performance appraisal. Traditional top down annual reviews were created for static teams in which managers, peers and reports stay the same and an individual’s year long performance is assessed. The challenge for HR will be to redesign performance appraisals so that they can be customized for each teams’ needs.

Here are some common characteristics of these new types of teams which HR will have to take into account:

Self-steering

The main idea behind these new types of teams is to increase agility. One of the most important parts of this is keeping decision-making at the team level. Rather than having to wait for approval, these teams have the ability to act fast facilitating a more flexible response to sudden industry changes. These sudden changes in direction also require flexibility in goal-setting and constant feedback to help get everyone on track.

Cross-collaborative

These teams consist of people with different areas of expertise, thereby, both enabling each member to leverage their strengths to accomplish team goals and facilitating knowledge-sharing within the team. For example, Spotify has created its own grids of employees based on different groups, tribes, chapters, etc. of skills. Watch this video to see how their system works. With everyone bringing a different skill to the team in order to reach a common goal, feedback is key, not only from team leads, but also from peers.

Ad hoc

These may not necessarily be static teams but can also be project based groups which form and disband on a needs basis. For example, gaming company Valve is famous for allowing their employees complete freedom to form and move between groups based on their interest in a project, even providing them with rolling desks which can be moved along with their owner.

Creating psychological safety in teams

According to Juan Castillo, Scrum master at tech company Impraise, no matter what type of team you have, creating psychological safety is the most important element you need to create a successful team. This is difficult to build as safety requires trust, which can only come when people feel comfortable sharing ideas or raising concerns without being judged. The term psychological safety was originally coined by Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson and later found to be the top quality needed for a successful team during Google’s Project Aristotle study. Read more about psychological safety.

How can HR create a performance management process that fits the needs of these new types of teams and, at the same time, fosters trust?

Performance management in agile teams

Rather than trying to fit these unique types of teams into a traditional annual performance appraisal framework, allow teams to customize their own performance management cycles which are sprint or project based. This could include:

Sprint or project based performance appraisals: Rather than basing performance reviews on year long performance, allow teams to decide when performance assessments are most needed. In the past, pen and paper reviews took hours for HR to set up and then distribute the results. Using a performance management tool gives team leads the power to set up reviews in minutes eliminating hassle.

Empower your people: The best people to receive development advice from are those you work with the most. If your people move frequently between ad hoc and project based teams they may miss the opportunity for valuable insights from temporary team members. Allow your employees to take ownership of their development by giving them the flexibility to choose who they want to receive feedback from during their performance appraisal.

Continuous feedback: In these teams everyone has their different field of expertise but the point is not to keep this knowledge separated. Agile teams present a unique opportunity for upskilling and growing your talent organically. Make the most out of this by facilitating continuous 360-degree feedback outside of performance reviews.

Feedback moments: Creating specific moments during which people share feedback with each other can help train positive feedback behavior within teams. The more people are prompted to give feedback the more they’ll become comfortable with it and then begin sharing it on their own.

As Castillo shared with us, this has to start at the top level. As a scrum master he regularly asks his team for feedback after retrospectives to see how they can be improved so that everyone benefits. Leading by example can show the rest of the team that it’s ok to ask for and receive feedback.

Another important moment during which feedback is essential is during sprint demos. It’s not only important that agile teams share the work they’ve accomplished with other teams, but it’s essential that they’re also able to receive external feedback, especially from individuals in customer success or sales who are working directly with clients.

Finally, a major part of creating a successful and comfortable environment is by taking time to celebrate success. Let people know that their hard work won’t go unnoticed.

You may be wondering, if you give these teams too much flexibility over their performance management process, how can you ensure alignment across the organization?

HR’s role in creating a self-service performance management system

While teams should be given the flexibility to choose the performance management style that works best for the way their team works, there are three things HR will need to do to facilitate this self selection based environment:

Competencies: Create core competencies which will help you align and compare team performance across the organization. Likewise, having a library of competencies will set the standard for new leaders learning how to best guide their teams.

Technology: It’s up to you to choose a performance management tool that allows each individual group, team tribe, etc. to customize their own process within the same platform. Impraise is one option which has been chosen by over 100, mainly tech companies, including Atlassian, Fandango and Shopify.

Data: Using one platform allows you to collect, analyze and compare the performance of different teams on core competencies. Use this data to gain insight into the health of your teams. Rate of feedback exchange within a team can be a great indicator of psychological safety.

There can be no more one size fits all performance management process. Instead, it’s time to build an agile process that caters to the needs of agile teams.


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How Skills Assessment For Interims Can Help Employers Hire Better Talent

Hоw Skills Assessment Fоr Interims Саn Hеlр Employers Hire Bеttеr Talent

Hiring thе bеѕt interim аnd contract workforce tо match uр wіth уоur company’s vision, culture and requirements hаѕ bееn оnе оf thе challenges thаt hаѕ continued tо plague businesses fоr а long time.  In today’s hiring market, thіѕ process саn bе achieved bу uѕіng skills assessment іn evaluating interim аnd contract workforce durіng recruitment process.

Mаnу people today receive job offers bесаuѕе thеу аrе deemed fit fоr thаt position оr due tо stellar interviews that work greatly for perm hires but may not have the same outcomes for interims. Hоw саn уоu bе ѕurе thаt аn individual wіll potentially transition seamlessly іntо уоur corporation аnd mesh wіth current company culture оr uphold company values for a short term they need to be there? Hоw dо уоu knоw thаt thе impression уоu receive frоm аn individual durіng аn interview wіll reflect thе individual’s daily work ethic, true personality, аnd anticipated contribution tо thе company? Moreover, how do you know that they have the right background, experience within a variety of sectors and real-time feedback on their assignments?

Tо gain insight іntо hоw а prospective interim wіll behave іn а specific situation оr view а specific environment, соnѕіdеr assessment оf skills fоr contractor’s, their attitudes and behaviours, to ensure you hire the best interim talent. Welcoming nеw team members’ оn board typically requires а transition period fоr bоth interim аnd employers. Gеttіng acclimated tо а nеw position, а nеw culture, аnd а nеw set оf standards саn bе quіtе challenging. Eѕресіаllу bеfоrе you’ve hаd а chance tо study уоur surroundings.

Making ѕurе уоu lookout fоr thе bеѕt skills fоr contractors аnd hiring bеѕt interim talent іѕ а uѕеful resource іn monitoring аnd determining whаt type оf individual wіll bе mоѕt suitable fоr а раrtісulаr position оr company. Bу performing аn in-depth skills and behaviour analysis оf potential future interim аnd contract workforce wіll hеlр tо optimise thе recruiting experience. Nоt оnlу dоеѕ іt aid іn selecting valuable people resources, but іt аlѕо helps tо save time іn regard tо thе interview process. Lооkіng оut fоr thе bеѕt skills fоr contractors аnd hiring bеѕt interim talent helps tо weed оut candidates thаt mау nоt offer thе skill sets thаt you’re lооkіng for, аnd tо highlight thоѕе individuals wіth experience аnd talents relevant tо а gіvеn position.

It also helps to hire managers and organisations learn more especially of their internal processes, biases and learning requirements in hiring the right talent, not just the one that “fits” in. Thеrе аrе ѕеvеrаl options required fоr assessing thе skills fоr contractors аnd hiring bеѕt interim talent however here wе list some of the basics to look out for:

  • Ability tо work іn а team structure if required, or alone if required
  • Ability tо mаkе decisions аnd solve problems
  • Ability tо plan, organise, аnd prioritise work
  • Ability tо verbally communicate wіth stakeholders іnѕіdе аnd оutѕіdе thе organisation
  • Ability tо obtain аnd process information
  • Ability tо analyse quantitative data
  • Technical knowledge related tо thе job
  • Proficiency wіth computer software programs
  • Ability tо create and/or edit written reports
  • Ability tо sell оr influence оthеrѕ depending on the role

Whіlе thе points noted аbоvе аrе basics fоr assessing interim аnd contract workforce. However, lооkіng оut fоr thе bеѕt skills fоr contractors аnd hiring bеѕt interim talent wіll save уоu а lot оf stress оf hаvіng tо lookout fоr а replacement еvеrу time fоr оnе position аѕ а result оf underperformance, especially if the only current was to hire is based upon biases of “fit” and “like for like” teams i.e. the fear of not hiring the right person with the right skills because they look and sound different to the rest of the business. To read more on similar topics explore our blogs; to speak with us about employer’s hubs and how we can help, get in touch. We are a free platform for interims with thousands of jobs refreshed daily, join us today.

About the Author:

Bhumika Zhaveri’s expertise lies in business strategy, change, human resources and talent management. Her experience is built over years in varied sectors where she has worked within Recruitment, Resourcing and HR. Now as Founder & CEO of InteriMarket a hybrid SaaS platform and an online marketplace for Interim Talent and In-House Recruitment & HR Teams. She is a firm believer of success through people, change and culture!


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Hard Data on Soft Skills – Softfactors Competency Index™

People analytics can measure what was considered unmeasurable before – soft skills. Technology has given us the tools and techniques, and this is what we do at softfactors AG. Our tests measure competencies in key areas through a series of fun, intuitive, interactive and quick online activities. We have combined self-description, with ability testing and behavioral assessments.

soft-skills-written-on-a-woode

What Soft Skills are mostly required in today’s Jobs?

Delivery, Collaboration, Drive and Communication are becoming more and more important in today’s jobs. While Communication is on everybody’s list, the high score of Delivery and Drive are definitively somewhat surprising. At Softfactors we measure and observe competency trends, using our set of 25 competencies. They are grouped into 5 categories: Dealing with People, Interpersonal Skills, Dealing with Business, Thinking Skills, and Personal Qualities. The Softfactors Competency Index™ looks at all competencies by function (i.e. marketing) and role (i.e. senior expert or team leader). And the picture – not surprising – holds a list of commonly used skills that are important for the 21st century. The top 4 competencies and their detailed facets are:

  1. Delivery
    Completer and finisher, know how to organize people and activities, figure out the processes necessary to get things done, know what to measure and how to measure it.
  2. Collaboration
    Build consensus among colleagues, peers and clients, recognize the business concerns and perspectives of others, identify shared interests and common ground, focus on issues and interests instead of people or positions, gain others’ support for ideas, proposals, projects and solutions.
  3. Drive
    Strength of will, take initiative, dynamic and assertive, good stamina, identify what needs to be done and do it before being asked or before the situation requires it, ambitious.
  4. Communication
    Listen well, ask pertinent questions, arguments are business-like and substantiated, pass information on to others, express clearly in conversations and writing, identify and present information or data that has a strong effect on others, encourage debate and not afraid to end it and move on, deliver tough messages with sensitivity.

To our surprise, the “doer” attitude that helps foster “Delivery” has been somewhat stronger than Communication, which we expected to be the most popular competency in our Softfactors Competency Index™. Together with the competency “Drive” the picture gives a strong “can do” attitude of the worker in the 21st century: making things happen seems to be a key element over all competencies.

Which Competencies are important for leaders?

For leadership positions (Managers, Executives and Managers of Managers) the picture looks somewhat different. The top 4 competencies for leaders are:

  1. Leading People
    Set direction, establish focus, decide on action, assign responsibility, delegate appropriately, mobilize commitment, provide motivational support, empower others, develop others and manage performance.
  2. Communication
    Listen well, ask pertinent questions, arguments are business-like and substantiated, pass information on to others, express clearly in conversations and writing, identify and present information or data that has a strong effect on others, encourage debate and not afraid to end it and move on, deliver tough messages with sensitivity.
  3. Decision Making
    Break down problems into all facets, define the root causes of a problem, generate a range of solutions, weigh pros and cons of options, use lessons learned, make decisions with limited or unclear information, easily explain the rationale for a decision.
  4. Business Responsibility
    Integrate executive direction into decisions and actions, align products/services/actions with the organization, monitor resources, seek ways to reduce costs, adhere to internal control procedures and standards, actively uphold company regulations and policies.

Basis of the Softfactors Competency Index™ are the data of hiring organizations using the Softfactors recruiting suite. Analyzed were published jobs primarily in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and the UK in 2016. Watch this space, we are going to monitor and publish more data about soft skills as they become available. We will be reporting them in the Softfactors Competency Index™.

Download our white paper “Putting Soft Skills at the Heart of Recruiting” here.

Want to demo Softfactors? Go through a candidate experience here.

Source: softfactors | smart digital recruiting

50% Hiring Cost Reduction through increased Quality and Speed: The Nord Stream 2 Project

The Landfall of the Nord Stream Pipeline in Germany

Nord Stream 2 AG is a project company established for the planning, construction and operation of the Nord Stream 2 twin pipeline to transport natural gas from Northern Russia to Europe. New hires were needed for multiple business and technical functions. Nord Stream 2 wanted a data-driven, comprehensive, time saving process that would result in candidates who could immediately fit into their high-speed, international culture and who would produce results on Day One.

Interview/Hiring Ratio of 4:1

With softfactors, Nord Stream 2 soon learned that softfactors’ methodology reflected current research conducted by the Stanford Research Institute International and the Carnegie Melon Foundation showing that job success depends on a combination of technical knowledge and soft skills. They realized that soft skills were valuable factors to consider.

Smart algorithm do the workload

softfactors’ selection tools use an algorithm to compare the job requirements to each candidate’s profile. Candidates interested in a job complete an interactive online application. All candidates are screened on overall fit, traditional variables, and soft factor elements drawn from interactive exercises. The result is a scientifically rigorous list of pre-selected candidates – both suitable and unsuitable – based on a combination of competencies and foundational and technical skillsets.

Saving 20 hours interview time per position

With the front-end sourcing and candidate screening steps handled by softfactors, Nord Stream 2’s HR team was able to concentrate on in-person interviews and collaborative assessment discussions with the hiring managers. It brought down the interview/hiring ratio to 1:4. The number of interviews for hiring managers was reduced by over 50% because of the pre-match of suitable candidates to jobs.

Download the full study here
Nord Stream 2 AG – Facts and Figures
Time Frame for Recruiting 9 months
Online Applications through Softfactors ATS (very specialized jobs) 2’500 applications automatically screened
Algorithm assessed as suitable 450
Hired (filled) positions 45
Hiring/Interview Ratio 1:4,3 (normally 1:10)
Time saving for hiring managers and HR (2 people in interview) 810 hours

About Softfactors AG

Softfactors AG is an HR Tech Startup based in Zurich Switzerland. The recruiting solution measures and compares both resumes and soft skills. It looks at qualifications, work experience, social skills and personality of applicants and compares these with the requirements of the job opening, using a set of competencies and pre-defined job profiles.

www.softfactors.com


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Building a Culture of Confidence

Confident Woman Talking

Confidence and competence: Two invaluable characteristics to possess in today’s professional environment. While these traits have different meanings, they are inextricably linked. Consistent research findings show men tend to overestimate their competence while women underestimate it, yet research has also shown that women tend to be more effective, and more competent, leaders.

The recent Oracle HCM Users Group (OHUG) Global Conference brought together hundreds of men and women in human resources technology for a workshop about how confidence can influence success within the industry. Among the topics discussed was how leaders, both male and female, can create an environment that brings out the best in others, and foster confidence across the board.

Make confidence an organizational goal

Inspiring change across organizations requires reinforcement from the top down. Offering trainings and forums for self-reflection, like the workshop held last month at OHUG, can help employees identify areas for development in how they portray themselves, speak publicly, or interact with others – and to address any growth opportunities accordingly. Fostering a culture of inclusion and facilitating new and innovative ways for leadership to invest in the development of top talent will ultimately lead to a much more productive, much more engaged (and happier!) workforce. At PwC, we often rely on Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s The Confidence Code as inspiration for our workshop trainings and discussions.

Help all employees, regardless of gender, understand how to foster and affect confidence

It’s crucial that both men and women contribute to the conversation — help female employees understand how to stand up for themselves and make their voices heard, but also coach male employees to understand not only how they can support their female peers but also the benefit of doing so.

At a recent leadership meeting, microphones had been set up throughout the room for staff members to ask questions. So I was initially confused when I saw a senior leader step up to the microphone, but that feeling quickly gave way to inspiration. He said, “I’m up here for someone that would like to ask a question, but isn’t 100 percent comfortable in front of a large audience. I’d like everyone to welcome her to the microphone and recognize the courage it takes to ask a question.”

To me, that was a perfect example of something so simple that can have a profound impact. By bringing out the best in ourselves, we can bring out the best in others and benefit the organization as a whole.

Create a community to build confidence through mentorship

Every level within an organization’s hierarchy can contribute to confidence-building in the workplace. Mentors are invaluable resources who can not only motivate and coach, but can also help employees recognize in real-time the behaviors that undermine the appearance of confidence. Companies with structured mentorship programs are seeing strong interest and participation from the workforce. For example, PwC’s Women in Technology (WIT) initiative empowers more than 1,400 members throughout PwC’s global network of firms through a variety of avenues, including mentorship.

Programs like WIT and the conversation at OHUG demonstrate why the argument of competence vs. confidence is so important. There are so many talented, motivated professionals in the workforce, but it’s our responsibility as leaders to provide them with the tools and resources they need to make their voices heard. A recent survey of WIT members found that more than 90 percent of respondents wanted to continue their mentorship relationship, found it effective and would recommend the program to others. By providing mentorship opportunities and continuing to grow confidence, create workplaces where employees feel valued and respected, and improve outcomes for technology employees across the board.

About the Author

Lisa Feigen Dugal

Lisa Feigen Dugal currently serves as a member of the US Advisory Leadership Team in the role of US Chief Diversity Officer, and is the Global Executive Partner for a large, global CPG company. Lisa also served as the Advisory Retail and Consumer (R&C) Leader from 2006 to 2013, expanding the size of the practice by tenfold.

As Advisory CDO, Lisa has changed the conversation across all dimensions of diversity and has given the topic of diversity a seat at the table. After assuming this role in 2013, Lisa integrated D&I objectives into the business imperatives and day to day decision making. She also has tied diversity to growth agenda of the practice. Areas of focus include: increasing cultural dexterity, identifying development and advancement opportunities for female and minority professionals, designing and executing Leadership Development programs, enhancing recruiting processes and creating new sources of talent, and engaging multi-generations in the workplace. Lisa has spearheaded numerous initiatives that attract, grow and retain top female talent such as co-founding community of interest, PwC Women in Technology, with more than 850 women and men actively making a difference at PwC and in the marketplace. As a recognized speaker on Diversity & Inclusion’s link to business growth, Lisa also serves as a strategic thought partner to PwC’s clients on the topic of D&I best practices.

As a Retail and Consumer leader, her team of over 2,600 R&C professionals works with clients to address their most complex and interesting business issues and opportunities from strategy to execution. Lisa is also a well-known thought leader in the industry and is regularly consulted by The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Chicago Tribune, MediaPost Marketing Daily, Progressive Grocer, Drug Store News, among others to offer industry expertise.

Lisa earned her B.S. with High Honors from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.


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