How does the performance objectives process change in a Lean/Agile world?

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Seems like every January I get questions from HR leaders in organizations I’m working with that go something like this – “We are working on the yearly performance objectives process, and we were wondering whether it needs to change in an agile environment?”

The main evolution I see in the Performance management process is leaning towards measuring up and across as well as focusing on capabilities improvement rather than a set of concrete product deliverables specified up front.

Measuring up will motivate individuals to become better team players in their teams, as well as be better connected to their business objectives.

I personally preferred capabilities improvement over concrete deliverables for many years even before I’ve been exposed to agile, but of course it makes more sense. There are many situations where you cannot specify deliverables up front these days. You CAN aim for a certain capability or improvement trend.

Another trend I’m seeing and think is useful is to give teams shared goals on top of individual goals. These are again capability-driven goals as well as business objective goals.

A couple of years ago I compiled a list of examples that some HR leaders found useful. Maybe you will find them useful as well. Below are some references I used to build this list and I think are a good place to start for HR professionals interested in the performance/professional development aspects of agile. They are a bit dated I admit, and those following my writing and twitter presence will find more stuff.

UPDATE: HR people are really excited about the AgileSparks Agile Leadership development program called LAST (Leading Agile Software Teams)

Individual and team goals

View more documents from Yuval Yeret

References - about how to measure/compensate in a group accountability environment
From my own blog – try to think about what something like the Toyota Improvement/Coaching Kata would mean for individual goal setting…
What resources do you find useful for HR in an agile environment?

3 thoughts on “How does the performance objectives process change in a Lean/Agile world?

  1. Tal

    While I agree that performance evaluation in an agile environment need to take a different approach,I see an issue where the agile teams connect with the rest of the organization. Any thought on how to integrate an agile performance objective process with a non-agile one?

    1. Yuval Yeret Post author

      Hi Tal, Thanks for reading and commenting.
      Most organizations I worked with had to integrate the performance objective process with the rest of the organization.
      I actually found it is not that hard to map the non-agile performance objective process to an agile team. You typically use different styles of objectives, and sometimes use a shared objective across the whole team, but I actually don’t see a big mismatch.
      In addition many organizations already implement kinds of MeasureUP approaches to compensation/performance management. E.g. in a non-agile organization I’m working with VPs have some of their performance score tied to goals of other VPs (e.g. a legacy application VP’s score is influenced by the success of a next-gen platform – why? because it drives him to adopt and support the next-gen platform despite his focus on steady state delivery on his legacy application).

      If you have more specific challenges/issues you see I’ll be happy to hear about them…

  2. digbt

    To evaluate the effect of an intervention, researchers analyze the change in health and quality of life problems, behavior and environment, and determinants of performance objectives.


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