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In today’s world of rapid innovation and powerful technology advances, it’s easier than ever to start up a company. But, building a winning team is still one of the supremely difficult tasks leaders and managers face. As agile and lean processes have become commonplace, many companies have taken on the values and principles to make their products or service delivery agile.
However, few companies have been able to apply agile principles outside of project management. Agile values can also be applied to many elements of how a company runs, including HR. Introducing: Agile performance management.
What is Agile Performance Management (APM)
Agile performance management is a collaborative, continuous feedback, development practice informed by agile principles and processes.
Traditionally, companies have managed employee performance through annual (read ‘set-&-forget’) goals, and semi-annual or annual (read ‘after-the-fact’) formal assessments. But, given the speed at which market landscapes are changing, and the fact that employee turnover rates in tech are on the rise, it has become more than just necessary for businesses to innovate on the People Ops front.
In the age of instant communication and constant feedback, once or twice a year reviews don’t cut it. Just like how an elite athlete continuously receives coaching and feedback through their training, knowledge workers also need to receive feedback regularly in order to reach their full potential.
The principles of Agile Performance Management
APM recommends making use of 3 pillars of collaboration – Focus, Mentoring and Transparency.
Focus: The state of having clear visual definition
While there is no strict formula for building awe-inspiring teams, experts do agree that teams that share a common and exciting goal end up making the most invaluable contributions to the world.
APM recommends the use of goal setting frameworks such as Objectives & Key Results (OKR). OKRs are a reflection of the company’s vision, mission statements, and overall strategy. They are set at the company, team, and individual levels so that everyone can stand behind a common vision and goal. With this sort of visibility, individuals can know how their efforts affect the team up to even the company level.
A fundamental element of maintaining focus is to make sure goals are set, tracked and assessed frequently. Only through multiple iterations does a team get a sense of its own velocity. The process of setting up goals should be a mix of top-bottom & bottom-top approaches, making the exercise truly collaborative.
Pro tip: To maintain agility, set goals on a quarterly cadence.
Mentoring: Praise and coach, help learn continuously
According to APM, managers become true leaders the day they start praising their team members for a job well done, however small that job is. Managers should see themselves as even a personal coach, as their team members may need coaching or encouragement to cross an obstacle, improve a skill, or make mid-course corrections. Much like continuous improvement, every task, gives the team a chance to learn and improve each time. This creates a continuous feedback loop making each individual better every step of the turn.
Workplaces where candid feedback fosters healthy communication amongst everyone engage employees the most. As opposed to traditional performance management, where the feedback ends up being a means to justify compensation, APM employs continuous feedback as an instrument of development planning and continuous learning.
Imagine your colleague gives a really great presentation in your team weekly meeting. With APM, you can leave feedback for them right after that meeting, that will be then rolled up into their continual performance assessment. Or, on the other hand, if a colleague makes an unkind remark or doesn’t pull their weight on a project, you can express that too so that the issue can be resolved more quickly.
Transparency: The state of being clearly perceptible
Gone are the days of secretive periodic reviews by managers and supervisors. Transparency is the new currency in the modern workplace.
Traditional performance appraisals are vulnerable to multiple psychological biases such as the recency, halo, and horn effects. With APM, performance evaluations turn completely objective since they are placed in context with the tasks that were performed.
Transparency is the new currency in the modern workplace.
Since mentoring takes place continuously, periodic reviews don’t blindside anyone – managers and team members alike. With equal and transparent benchmarks set for everyone, true team spirit kicks in and the team starts performing.
When there is a sense of trust between the manager and the team member, performance reviews discussions are more inclined towards making the process win-win for everyone involved.
APM, boosted by these 3 pillars of collaboration have led teams to be happy and productive. Give Agile Performance Management a try and see for yourself what it’s all about.
Want to adopt Agile Performance Management in your team? Check out the UpRaise for Employee Success add-on available for JIRA in the Atlassian Marketplace and get started today.
By Heather Krebsbach, Product Marketing ManagerOn January 10, 2017
This is a guest post written by Anand Inamdar, Product Owner at Amoeboids Technologies. The team at Amoeboids has developed & supports JIRA add-ons UpRaise for Employee Success and Automated Release Notes.
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