Performance Of Individuals In Agile

From the begining till now, in the whole period of my experience with Scrum, I was againsting to measure individuals.
Measure individuals is needed of course to give them a direction for continuous improvements. Measurements survive in right circumstances, in Agile, it encourages teamwork instead of heroism. Measuring individuals brings side-effects. Measurement has a view, only which can provide a measurable number for the measured attributes of employee or personnel. People react to things happening around the world everyday, they can not work in ideal unchanged persistent environment, it means the attribute value varies in different circumstance when measuring because of reactions change.
Individual measurement brings politics, which is definitely the disaster of team. Setting up a successful team, requires every team member highly contribute to the team, values the spirit of teamwork higher than personel in urgent situation, means sacrificing individual benefits to fulfill team needs. When people have a pressure of measurement, they tend to achieve self benefits, start to hurt the teamwork when there is conflict between team and personel decisions. Since selfish brings benefit for the personel while teamwork consideration doesn’t. People start to arguing, especially when there is a company decision that team will have 10% top worker, 10% bottom worker, and others avarage, people who is most welcome in the team instead of the best or most effective & efficient people have more chance to be the 10% top. This leads to a company culture that we are playing politics instead of achieving best performance.
There are many articles describing about this issue, I have to say, I fully understand their concerns, and I support the idea that we should always measure a team as a whole instead of personel, based on my value.
You may want to read more about this issue, check links below :
3. Should We Measure Individual Velocity? (@Yahoo extremeprogramming Group)
To bring this topic further, I’d like to explain more of my understandings.
Performance evaluation is quite important in current industry. Enterprises use it to measure the employees, and use the result for their decisions, e.g. salary increase, role switch, job transfer, position step up, and so on. I am working in a big enterprise, it has a heavy, integrated, performance evaluation system, covers all possible aspects of your work, and you have to set objectives for your next iteration of PE. While I feel unhappy about some general objectives, however I haven’t talk with my manager about this, I think it’s not an issue he can handle.
I have automatically been added three objectives, one is for the company wide, we should achieve some business successes; one is for the department, we should reach some targets; and also for the team. These 3 totally construct 80% of the objective target, it means I can set targets for myself which totally contributes 20% of the objective. What is the problem? Do you see it?
Too many things I can not control for most of my objectives! Am I able to manage the company’s resources, and make sure we achieve the expected business success? NO. I do not have the power to change things in that level, but should pay for that. Am I able to manage my department, arranging work, in order to reach our targets? NO. I do not have the nominated title to do them, their efforts do not belong to me, but I still need to be involved in such a big thing. Am I able to handle the whole team and make it perfect? Eh… Yes, or maybe no. It’s a bit complex, I am a team member, and at the same time the scrum master for this scrum team. But as a member, I am not able to control the team, right? I can influence other members, but I do not have the definite power to command them.
Then what I can control and is able to do my best only holds 20% of my objective, how do I feel about my future salary increase?
Make things simple.
I am only a worker, an engineer, who responsible for what I am able to do. I only responsible for my work, for coding ,for testing, for configuring the test environment, etc. All those tasks are easy to define, and measure, they accord with the SMART principles. It’s quite easy to measure me by measuring my assigned tasks.
Then who takes care of the team, the department, the company? Who do you think should be the one? The header of those groups, right? Who is the head of the team, is responsible for coordinating the team resources to have best performance and finish the agreed tasks. Same as the head of the department, and the company. They own all the resources in their managed group, they have all the rights to move people inside their group among departments / teams / desks, to reorganize people in order to ensure teamwork, communication, efficiency, effecitve, and so on.
Eh… Too much thoughts about this, tired, I need to have some sleep, and continue to do my best tomorrow. Wow, perhaps today… Yep, it’s already 1:01 AM, good morning, my friends :-)

Xu Yi is a professional Agile & Lean Coach, check out more at

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