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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Keeping your finger to the pulse: HR’s digital solutions for 2017

Keeping your finger to the pulse: HR’s digital solutions for 2017

Keeping your finger to the pulse: HR’s digital solutions for 2017

It’s quite surprising how many company’s HR departments haven’t yet joined the digital revolution. These companies seem to think that how it was done is fine and has worked perfectly well in the past, so why bother updating anything?

The thing is that often the people in HR feel differently, with 70 to 80% of their time spent on low-value administrative tasks. I feel that’s shameful, particularly as a huge amount of that work can be automatized and digitized. This would allow HR to be massively more productive and play a more strategic role in the company by creating new opportunities, learning methods and more for their companies.

If you agree with me, consider embracing these digital solutions.

Peer to peer recognition

Often a big part of the modern HR department is validating the newer employees, who are in many ways far more demanding than previous generations. That can be taxing for both managers and the HR department to do.

A good solution that has recently come out is Tapmyback. The idea here is to allow people to recognize each other’s work, so that people are no longer looking to management alone to validate what they’re doing.

This will make it far more likely that your employees will receive the recognition they need, while freeing up the HR department to concentrate on offering opportunities for staff to grow and excel.

Non-traditional reviews

Many people do not like to be reviews. And that’s not really that strange, is it? For that reason, OrangeHRM is a good go-to product, as it makes reviewing a far more effective and less stressful affair, where people don’t have to sit in front of their manager but can instead read the process online.

It can, in fact, do far more than that including track time off, help with recruitment and offer training suggestions – which are all very useful services to automate. The good news is that there is a 30 day free trail so that your company can see if it’s suitable.

Resume analyzers

One of the biggest tasks you’ve got to do in the HR department is to manage resumes. Fortunately, that’s gotten a lot easier today with the resume parsers. These will go through piles or resumes, looking for keywords and key skills that you need and discarding the huge pile of useless crap that often comes with it.

In fact, they’ve become such a common occurrence that resume writing services are completely ready for them. And so, you won’t actually miss out on any of the good resumes while cutting down on the time that hiring new personal consumes substantially.

Social media recruiting

Here’s a surprising statistic 73% of 18 to 34 year olds have found their job through social media. That means that if you’re not yet trying to recruit though these platforms, you really are missing out on a huge slice of the younger market out there (and though there is something to be said for experience, diversity is useful too).

For that reason, make certain that you start using services like linkedin to get the word out there that you’re looking. Only in that way can you be sure that you’ll find the right person for the position that you’re looking for.

Online educational resources

Another great new technological wave that every HR department should introduce is the one taking place in online education. For example, there are now dozens of online courses that are available for free or only a little money at such places as EdX.

These offer you a great opportunity to both offer your employees a chance to boost their skill set, while cutting down on costs as well as travel time for them to get those skills.

In fact, some companies have taken to offering employees a certain time during their day or week where they can study these courses, all while never leaving the office. In this way, they can get on with learning without forcing their companies to find ways to work around their absence as they’re still there in case of emergencies.

Last words

In truth, it surprises me that companies would ever think HR isn’t ready for the digital age. There are huge gains to be made in the HR department by coming in to the 21st century. And the great thing is that the more effective your HR department functions, the easier it is for them to help the rest of your company get a head and upgrade their skillset.

And that matters. After all, the modern world is changing ever more rapidly and it’s vital for any company that their workers are changing and improving along with it. Otherwise you might just find that your company’s skillset ends up obsolete.

There really is no recovering from that.

Sylvia Giltner, Blogger, Artist, Student

Technology and art are a big part of my life, and I enjoy integrating them into everything I do. — Sylvia Giltner


If you want to share this article the reference to Sylvia Giltner and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

Enhancing Your Workplace Performance with 360-Degree Feedback

Written by Steffen Maier. Originally published at Impraise Blog.

Startup Stock Photos

By now, you’re probably familiar with the term 360-degree feedback (If not, check out our handy guide here for an outline and some perks of introducing it into your workplace.)

If you want a feedback process that gets the best from your team and allows them to grow, 360-feedback is the way forward. It’s a collaborative process which eliminates issues that arise when only managers provide insight, instead allowing people to gain a more well-rounded view of their strengths, weaknesses and how they are able to develop within their team.

Self-Awareness & Accountability

Feedback culture can also lead to higher levels of self-awareness. In reviewing their colleagues, people will have an increased awareness of how they perceive others’ workplace behaviours and performance, likely making them more self-aware and therefore better at evaluating and improving their own performance.

People’s motivation comes from knowing that their work is being acknowledged. If there is a consistent culture of constant real-time feedback in place, employees are likely to up their game at work in order to be viewed favorably, making them both more self-aware and more accountable for their performance.

Peers

Although as a manager you have a valuable insight into your employees’ work, their peers will undoubtedly offer a different perspective.

Peer reviews are effective in the sense that people’s colleagues hold a different awareness of their colleagues working styles, interactions and how they’re using their time. This is why 360-degree feedback works. It allows for input to come from a perspective that managers alone may be unable to provide. Gaining performance feedback from someone in another department that you’re currently working closely on a project with is actually likely to be more beneficial than that of your manager who may know little to nothing about the project and the work involved.

When peer evaluation is used alongside managerial feedback, an all-round view can be established; something which is highly useful for team members as they look to improve their performance.

A recent study from Globoforce found that 85% of those who already have peer feedback implemented as part of their performance review feel that they are more appreciated, with 88% also expressing more job satisfaction than those only reviewed by a single supervisor. Feeling such levels of satisfaction can lead to those who are happy and feel appreciated: these are the people that have more reason to exert themselves at work than those who feel undervalued regardless of their efforts.

Research has also found that peer relationships have a huge impact on people’s work lives. Peer camaraderie is the number one reason that people go the extra mile at work: people are more likely to exert themselves if there is a sense that it also benefits their colleagues. Employees that have good relationships with their co-workers, and value them as part of a team, are also likely to value their input and want to improve their performance based on their colleagues’ feedback in order to achieve a better working environment for everyone.

Managers and 360-feedback

It’s also important to acknowledge the ways in which 360- feedback can assist managerial performance. Receiving both positive and constructive feedback from your team members can have hugely beneficial impacts. 360-feedback encourages employees to provide upward feedback on areas that they perhaps wouldn’t have felt able to express without such practices set in place. It’s a unique opportunity to gain new insight into your working style, skill-set, and the way you interact with your team.

Research has found 360-feedback to be incredibly beneficial for managers. Those who were originally rated low or moderately during upward feedback reviews showed improvements over time. In order for it to actually improve performance, however, 360-degree feedback must be met with follow-ups: the same research also established that managers who followed up and discussed their feedback improved more than those who did not.

Alongside 1-on-1 meetings to discuss manager-employee feedback for example, such follow ups could be implemented in the form of quarterly company-wide reviews to establish whether issues that arose have been resolved. This article from APA highlights the importance of following up feedback and the difference it can make.

Real-time, 360-degree feedback is a sure-fire way to improve performance in the workplace. It’s beneficial, whether from having the process implemented to improve people’s work ethic and sense of recognition or the specific feedback received providing people with insights and all-important goals to work towards. The argument for ditching the old-school process of simple manager to employee feedback in favor of the 360 is indisputable.

Using Impraise, you can ensure that feedback is shared amongst all team members, ensuring an open and ongoing conversation about progress and development, all without interrupting your daily work-flow. This is not, of course, to say that performance reviews and digital feedback should replace face-to-face interaction and conversations about progress. Instead, using tools like Impraise to support your current system with real-time, 360-degree feedback helps to create a more communicative, constantly developing and high-achieving team.

About the Author:

steffen-maier

Steffen Maier is co-founder of Impraise a web-based and mobile solution for actionable, timely feedback at work. Based in New York and Amsterdam, Impraise turns tedious annual performance reviews into an easy process by enabling users to give and receive valuable feedback in real-time and when it’s most helpful. The tool includes an extensive analytics platform to analyze key strengths and predict talent gaps and coaching needs.


Source: Advantages of 360-degree feedback to Improve Employee Performance — Impraise Blog – Employee performance management, reviews and 360 feedback

WorkCompass Named Among 50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2016 by Leading Tech Analysts

WorkCompass Named Among 50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2016 by Leading Tech Analysts

WorkCompass announced that The Silicon Review Magazine has named it among the 50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2016.

The Silicon Review 50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2016 program identifies the companies transforming the way we work via cutting-edge technology. These companies are leading the seismic shifts that today’s company leaders need to be thinking about before it’s too late. We selected WorkCompass because of its unique application of artificial intelligence to improve performance appraisal, its revenue growth, customer reviews and domain influence,” said Manish Pandey, Editor-in-Chief of The Silicon Review Magazine.

We are honored to be recognized by The Silicon Review Magazine as the one of the 50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2016,” said Denis Coleman, Founder and CEO at WorkCompass. “In 2012, I left my job to found WorkCompass. I wanted to transform performance appraisal into an ongoing process about coaching and mentoring staff to achieve their full potential. I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved so far at WorkCompass”.

The Silicon Review complete article:

http://thesiliconreview.com/magazines/simplify-automate-performance-management-in-your-organization-workcompass

About WorkCompass

WorkCompass provides enterprise software for organizations to manage their talent through agile goal setting and ongoing performance check-ins.

WorkCompass is pioneering the application of management science via artificial intelligence in human organizations.

The company was founded by Denis Coleman in 2012. Coleman held leadership roles at a variety of companies including Flextronics, one of the largest electronics management services companies in the world.

WorkCompass has been recognized by CIO Review as one of the “20 Most promising HR technologies 2015” and by Silicon Review as one of the “50 Smartest Companies 2016”

About The Silicon Review

The Silicon Review is the world’s most trusted online and print community for business & technology professionals. Its community of 200,000 members include thought-provoking CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, IT VPs and managers.

It is the pre-eminent platform that shares innovative enterprise solutions developed by established solution providers and upcoming hot enterprises emphasizing as a neutral source for technology decision makers. It is the place where senior level IT buyers and decision-makers come to learn and also share their experiences in regards to products, technologies and technology trends.

Contact Details

Denis Coleman, Founder & CEO, denis@workcompass.com


Source: WorkCompass Named Among 50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2016 by Leading Tech Analysts – WorkCompass