Agile HR: How to Bridge the Gap Between “Team Performance” and “Individual Appraisals”


When I work with organizations who are looking for ways to bridge the “collective responsibility” aspect of Agile team work with the “Individual Performance” aspect of their HR and review system, I usually recommend a few concrete steps:


Remove anything from the performance appraisal system that is clearly antithetical to making Agile Progress

Sometimes the HR and people management systems associated with companies in transition has not been updated for a very long time. As such, you might have some artifacts that have been lingering around since the stone age that negatively influence compensation, and thus behavior. Here are some examples.

  • Measuring developer productivity by lines of code
  • Measuring QA productivity by number of bugs found
  • Measuring Business Analyst productivity by length of documents created

The first order of business is to get these relics removed from the system, and anything else that is clearly counter to the current agile effort.


Add 3 additional dimensions: Teaching new skills, Learning new skills, and Performing roles outside your job description

Next is to add 3 dimensions to the current review process: Teaching, Learning, and Performing new skills.

Incentivizing team members to teach new skills has a few positive effects: It spreads skills through the organization, prevents information hoarding, and reduces the risk of only 1 person understanding a certain part of the system, a certain technical skill, or a certain business process.

Incentivizing team members to learn new skills provides a ready audience for the teachers, creates a now cost “knowledge factory” inside the organization, and allows people to learn new skills in the context of what they already know with people they already work with.

Incentivizing team members to perform new skills helps create more flexible cross functional teams, gives individuals an outlet to practice their new skills, creates more flexible career paths, and enables better mentoring inside the organization.

Wrap up

Remember, this is just a guideline to get started.  Most companies understand where they are and where they need to go, but need help in understanding what the intermediate steps look like.


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