Performance Management in Agile Teams: Guide and Action Plan for 2019

Today’s work environment can really become an amazing platform for employee success, which means success for business. These days, every single detail regarding offices is being questioned – from the way they are designed to organizational hierarchy – all to develop new processes and ideas that would spur a company’s productivity and overall performance. These new developments are focused on customization, flexibility and, most importantly, agility.

One of the radically revised concepts is the concept of a team. Companies that care for their staff’s progress as employees and as professionals are trying to create an environment that would better fit the modern standards and production pace.

At the moment, there are several models that businesses adapt for their teams depending on their needs. The key to success here is experimentation and customization – in other words, you simply have to try and see what model fits your company the best.

While these new types of teams show promise in a wide range of ways that would most certainly result in higher ROI for companies, they don’t always fit into conventional HR processes, especially when it comes to the annual performance review.

Conventional top-down reviews were meant for the annual assessment of a static team’s performance. This creates additional challenge for HR, which is to re-think the entire process of performance management and make it suitable for the needs of each team. Let’s take a look at some of the most common team types that are being currently formed in the modern business environment.

Type 1. Self-Steering Team

This team type is all about agility increase. One of the most significant things of this process is making sure that all team members can take part in making decisions. Instead of having to wait for approval, self-steering teams can act fast, thus being more flexible in their adaptation to changes that may occur.

Proper function of such teams depends on flexibility, when it comes to goal-setting and work. In order for a self-steering team to achieve high performance and, thus, productivity, it’s necessary to regularly share feedback, ascertaining better clarity and positioning between its members.

Type 2. Cross-Functional Team

A cross-functional team consists of professionals with expertise in different areas. This helps each employee to take advantage of their strengths. In turn, such practice provides a platform for more effective achievement of team goals and for knowledge-sharing.

Type 3. Ad-Hoc Team

An ad-hoc team is the one that is formed and dismissed as required. For instance, an ad-hoc team can be formed to take care of a particular project or work on a specific problem. It could also happen that some employees move between various teams, thus altering team dynamics.

This was seen in Valve – a gaming company that has created the all-time classic Half-Life and the Steam gaming platform. So, the company has allowed its employees to form groups and move between them, as needed, depending on their interests in a particular project. As a result, the company has become more flexible in terms of aligning with interest areas, thus spurring professional development of its employees.

In other words, agile teams are always focused on completing the goals that were set in front of them and are able to change their dynamics, depending on their needs, while sharing knowledge, experience, and constantly evolving.

Psychological Safety in Teams Is a Must

No matter what type your team belongs to, its psychological safety is, perhaps, the most significant component you will ever require for your team’s – and company’s – success. The term ‘psychological safety’ was initially coined by Amy Edmondson, a professor from Harvard Business School, and later, during the Google’s Project Aristotle, it has become the most important quality for a successful agile team.

Since safety demands trust, it may be quite difficult to build, since the latter only appears, when people start feeling comfortable about sharing their ideas or concerns, while not being judged by others. However, in the long run, there is a great benefit for teams and employees that work in a psychologically safe environment.

Alright, we have reviewed several of the most common agile team types and the most important factor that should always be taken into account for such teams to be successful. You have followed our advice and ideas, and now seem to have an agile team. What do you do next? How do you manage such a seemingly explosive team?

Agile Team Performance Management Tips

First of all, instead of trying to fit these team types into a conventional performance management process, let them tinker with it, so it matches their agile processes for faster and more effective work.

Agile teams are known for working in sort of sprints that normally take about four weeks. At the end of each of these periods, the team completes a retrospective – this way it defines the strongest areas, what worked and what didn’t, and, thus, gets a perspective on the things that can be improved from that moment and on.

When you want to adapt the process of performance management, so it would match this work format, you may consider such things as:

  • Project or sprint based performance reviews handled by managers. The use of purpose-built platform provides team leaders with power and flexibility to set up reviews as needed and only spend minutes for preparation
  • Requesting feedback at a sprint’s end. Those that you work most closely with would be the best people to get feedback from. Let your workers take ownership for their work by providing them with the capability of requesting feedback from other members of their team, which can be done either on an ad-hoc basis or during the official performance review
  • Getting real-time feedback. Agile teams provide a unique chance for personal and professional development of your talent in the most organic way possible. Exchanging feedback in real time outside performance reviews will provide you with the best insight into how well your team does on a project. Employees working in the same team can share tips and praises with one another whenever they want, which will increase chances to learn new things

Gathering and sharing feedback by teams on a regular basis will provide you with clearer insights into teams’ performance throughout the company. Moreover, you will learn to see the emergence of patterns of how teams affect each other.

At the same time, more frequent collection of performance feedback enables managers to reinforce their teams and get the best results from individual workers. This is, pretty much, the point of making retrospectives.

Starting at the top will help you assure that these habits and patterns of work will become ingrained throughout your company’s teams. That is, if you are a team lead or manager, you getting regular feedback from your team after making a retrospective will help you see, how you can improve the team’s work, experience and results. Providing the best example will help you show the rest of your team that it is absolutely fine to ask for feedback and, in turn, receive it.

At last, one of the major parts of creating a comfortable and successful working environment is celebrating team’s success. People have to know that their hard work is appreciated and valuable.

Ways to Create a Self-Service Performance Management Framework

Although teams should be provided with freedom and flexibility to select the type of performance management that would work best for them, you can take advantage of several other techniques that can optimize the process.

Technology

Choose a platform that permits each team to customize their work and work effectively with each of their own processes.

Competencies

Create central competencies that will assist you to align and compare performances of different teams throughout your company. Similarly, making a library of competencies and skills will set the paradigm for new team leads that learn how to manage their teams the best way.

Agile Team Performance Management with Vectorly

Getting back to the technological aspect of your agile team performance management, there is one thing that you would want to take a more thorough look into. Vectorly is a platform that is meant to make the work of your team more organized, productive and effective, than ever. Unlike all the other, so to say conventional task management services, Vectorly focuses on what each team member knows, can do, what they can learn and how they progress in doing so.

Since agile teams means a team that is versatile in its overall set of skills, you want to make certain that none of the team members drags behind the others. No matter, what skills each of them possesses, you want them to walk hand in hand along the way to the goal they have to achieve.

By monitoring skills and education progress of each team member via Vectorly, you will get immediate real-time feedback at any moment in time. Moreover, you will know what should be improved and what skills are the most solid in your team. If you’re already using Trello or Jira for task management, you can integrate the tool into either of them, and carry on with the things you’re already comfortable with.

Go to Vectorly.team right and sign up for a free trial period. Vectorly is a platform, using which you can make sure that your team’s skills work towards your team’s progress and that its progress improves its members’ skills.

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