Take a piece of yellow paper, a slice of pizza, and a couple of guys with clipboards – and what do you have?
Last week – it was the latest gathering of the North Bay Agile Meetup group. The topic was “Performance Review Pain Relief.” So what would you do with that piece of paper –- write a performance review –- or make an airplane? At this Meetup –- we did both.
Led by Chris Sims of Agile Learning Labs and Harold Shinsanto –- we formed agile teams of expert paper airplane manufacturers. And in the course of producing some of the most embarrassing paper airplanes in aeronautical history –- the group explored what works and doesn’t work with performance reviews.
In the context of “agile business” –- it would be easy to decree that old-fashioned stack-ranking and personal performance reviews should go by the wayside. After all, rating the performance of individuals relative one another runs counter to the ideas of self-organization, teamwork, and continual improvement so central to agile product development.
And until the HR department hops on board the “agile train” –- are we just stuck? The group decided no. As an agile team –- we can
- Make sure we clarify “the goal” – understanding the performance criteria for the team and for individuals long before any feedback session
- Foster a culture of coaching – even when “the boss” is officially only providing annual written feedback in the traditional performance review – coaching can be something done by the team – for the team.
- Develop systems for continual feedback and improvement – rather than only examining results when the “system” says we must – find ways to frequently improve. Inspect and adapt. Lather, rinse, repeat. Sounds a lot like what we do in agile anyways!
- And to the Human Resources professionals who may accidentally stumble on the great world of agile, scrum and team-based work – come on over. We’d love to talk. We saved a couple of slices of pizza just for you.