As many organisations have moved from traditional development to implementing the principles of Agile development in the delivery of products and services,  so there has been a need to rethink the approach to performance management to complement this shift.

The implementation of Agile principles breaks down the delivery of products and services into much smaller ‘chunks’ of ‘minimum viable products’ (MVPs) that results in employees being involved in multiple ‘projects’  rather than one continuous  stream of work.

This shift lends itself to a ‘real-time’ reviewing of performance and associated development needs on a more regular basis, particularly at the completion of each Agile work module.

In response to this change, line-managers must be more Agile in their approach to providing coaching support to their employees, providing real-time constructive feedback to help employees learn from successes and failures and therefore, holding more regular performance reviews with employees that are aligned to their specific workflow.

This Agile approach to performance management may mean that one individual may have a difference ‘cadence’ of reviews to another; depending on the scope of their work; however,  as the focus is on development and not financial rewards, the frequency of appraisals does not need to be tied to an annual development review process.

While traditional annual performance management appraisals are typically restrospective by nature, Agile performance appraisals take a forward looking approach in holding regular conversations concerning lessons learned and implementing what is learned immediately into current and future projects.

Separating the annual financial appraisal from these frequent Agile Performance Appraisals then allows the focus to be on the development of key skills and behaviours required to create effective change and improve capability; whereas, the annual financial discussion can then take place as a ‘wrap up’ to these discussions in a separate conversation on an annual basis.

So is this just good theory or are there organisations adopting this approach already?  The movement towards Agile Performance Management and Appraisals is already well under way with organisations like:  Microsoft, Dell, Adobe and IBM adopting this in the technology space while PWC, Accenture and Deloittes are leading the way in the professional Services market.

If we are to change the way that employees and their line managers view the importance of their development within our organisations, then the separation of the financial review from development discussions is key, and the frequency of development conversations should align to the frequency of the individuals’ assignments within the workplace.

As we make this transition so organisations will become more agile at learning from successes (and failures) and use this to drive up productivity and competitive advantage.

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