I offer Scrum Trainings in both Europe and Asia.
When telling people this fact I am often asked about the differences in culture and how class participants may behave differently in Europe compared to Asia. Yes, I have noticed some differences. I have also noticed similarities. The most encouraging similarity is the habit of asking questions. In classes where the participants ask a lot of of questions the atmosphere is usually more open and the energy higher.
My role in this is to facilitate questions being asked. I’m still working on improving my ability to do so. What I do is to constantly ask for questions and also try to pull questions from the audience. If a participant looks puzzled, I ask her if she’s got a question. If two participants start talking to each other I ask them if there are any unclarities. I do all this because one thing I’ve noticed is that if one participant starts to ask questions others are often encouraged to ask as well.
Differences between classes in Europe and Asia are mainly the type of questions asked. One question which I get almost every class in China and almost never in Sweden is about how individual performance appraisals are done in Scrum. The first time I got this question I was perplexed. My thinking is that Scrum is based on teamwork. I even point out the Team in Scrum to be one of four pillars Scrum is resting upon. (Iterative development, Incremental delivery and high priority functionality being the other three pillars.)
I also point out that one of the important abilities for individuals in Scrum is to learn to think as a team. In my opinion individual performance appraisals are contrary to all what I say.
After receiving the same question a number of times I started to dig into the subject of appraisal performance. What I found was interesting and pointed in mainly three directions:
- The first view is that performance appraisals are down right damaging and not good at all. Period.
- The second view is that appraising individuals on teams will make teamwork harder if possible at all.
- The third view is that yes, maybe teamwork will suffer from performance appraisals of individual but let’s try to create them so that they show us how much each individual adds to the competence and the teamwork of the team.
My answer today
- Scrum focuses on teamwork, thus individual performance appraisals are not compatible with Scrum.
- When looking in to this matter I have found several persons arguing that performance appraisals are harmful.
- Some organizations may not be ready to rid themselves of individual performance appraisals just yet.
More to read about these aspects
Michael James writes about what your HR department doesn’t know about Scrum.
Esther Derby suggests to skip performance appraisals entirely.
Mark Levison offers a comprehensive summary.
Kane Mar elaborates on how to do performance reviews in an Agile environment.
Chris Sims shares an answer on Agile Performance Reviews.
Literature on the subject
“Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What to Do Instead” by Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins
“Get Rid of the Performance Review!: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing–and Focus on What Really Matters” by Samuel A. Culbert