Agile and Performance Reviews


I am a new member and I would like to ask the group about any experience you have in defining performance review plans for firms who follow agile. I know agile is more about the team than it is about individuals. I have read about what Google does and about 360 degree review processes so I suspect something like that is in the cards. Any advice would be appreciated.


@socamb I just had a long conversation with @scrummando, he has tons of ideas!


@socamb from what angle of performance management are you looking into?

“As a manager, I have people on an Agile team so I need to know how to do year-end performance review in this new way of working?”

“As a manager, I a person on an Agile team who I am getting the feedback he/she is not doing well so I need to know how to monitor, Coach, and If necessary remove them from the team”

This is a really multi-dimensional topic and we could spend a bunch of time unpacking this. What thread would you like to pull on first?


Thanks for getting back to me. I am interested in the first example. I am an agile coach and could use some advice on this topic. I see some interesting examples from Google using 360 degree reviews and OKRs. At my last client, the OKR idea was not accepted. You thoughts would be appreciated.


We have an OKR coach in my current organization and one of the anti-patterns he has noted is tying OKR’s to personal performance and compensation reviews… the coaches and research says to NOT do that. (and I’m loving how OKR’s can enhance an agile environment, but I’m still learning).

As for reviews… cut the iteration way down from yearly to quarterly or even monthly… I suggest applying the feedfback loops of agile/scrum to the 1:1 process. If you can get HR and leadership to give staff half raises every 6 months, or 1/4 raises each quarter, even better!!!


I’ll be presenting on making HR part of your Agile Transformation at the Scrm Gathering in Austin in 2 weeks. It’ll be an overview focused on supporting the goals of that transformation by looking at performance assessment, performance improvement, recognition & compensation, and team member retention & attraction.
For sure, more frequent holistic practices (like 360s) support the assessment aspect way better than infrequent, backward-looking traditional performance reviews.


Not sure I understand your comments about OKRs are they used as part of the review process. I like the idea of mroe frequent reviews and raises.


Will your presentation be available to us on the web?


OKR’s should NOT be used for performance reviews that tie to compensation changes.

That is direct from an OKR coach that is very fluent in Agile culture and he said many of his peers have found this in their own research. (sorry, I don’t know if I can name him as a consultant to our company at this time)

I can’t quickly do the homework to find this, but I know that past Agile Alliance talks on their website have covered the topic of employee reviews within an agile culture… I see a few hits here:'reviews~sort~false~sortDirection~'asc~page~1)


I don’t understand why orgs think they need performance reviews. I wrote this several years ago:

I realize you might not want to go meta, but to me, that’s the real question. What decisions will you make after doing all the work of performance reviews? If you don’t know the decision, you might not want that action.


Are performance reviews the mechanism through which your org decides whether or not to give people raises / promotions / etc?

Often, I find the ‘how do we do performance reviews in agile’ question is a proxy for ‘how do we figure out how much money to give to which people’. If those two are intertwined too closely, the immediate change is probably to introduce frequent check-ins and feedback (as others have described above). Even if you don’t get rid of the “Performance Review / Money Handing Out” dance right away, there will be immediate value from turning up the feedback frequency.

And over time, you chip away at the harder organizational change work that is needed to kill performance reviews all together.

Oh and +1 to not tying OKRs to ‘performance reviews.’ The best way I’ve heard it put is this: OKRs are a focusing tool, not an individual performance evaluation tool.


Thanks for all of the great feedback. I encounter firms who do performance reviews as a way to decide on compensation. I see many folks think we should get rid of performance reviews. In an ideal Agile world, how would we decide on compensation for people. We still need to pay folks for their work. Any feedback would be appreciated.


Re compensation: Create career ladders and help people see where they are in the ladder. Make sure HR looks at the relative compensation for your ladders across comparative industries.

If someone (team members and the manager who serves the team) offers feedback on a regular basis and offers career guidance on a regular basis (at least biweekly), people have an opportunity to course-correct. If they’re working well and happy where they are, they get the standard raise. If they’ve stretched and succeeded so they’re in another ladder, they get a larger raise.

I guess I don’t see the problem.