Agile Performance Reviews

Keeping Agile in Performance Reviews

As part of Katie Killinger’s continuing HR in practice series, it’s worth asking why applying Agile methodology is increasingly accepted and supported as producing the best results.

Performance review is a perennial hot-topic within employee management and satisfaction. A quick search through Google Books lists nearly three million entries of strongly-held views, from the potentially innovative;

‘Crowdsourced Performance Review’ (Eric Mosley, 2013)

to the agitated;

‘Get Rid of the Performance Review!: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing’ (Samuel A. Culbert, 2010).

Neither of these texts we endorse.

At Zupa, regular, formal reviews do indeed take place. This starts at the point of probation with an employee’s manager. These are diarised by HR upon the employment start date and are a means to determine how their probation (trial period) has gone. This period is a time to assess an employee’s abilities and their fit into the wider team and company’s culture. It is also an opportunity for the employee to reflect upon how they like their new job and surroundings and to set objectives and goals to move forward.

Staff Appraisals Figures

Once an employee has passed probation, the manager then diarises again every three months thereafter. These three-monthly reviews are designed as a quick 30-minute recap for both parties, using measurements based on the Deloitte four question performance review. We have also added a fifth and sixth question – that we feel can help identify future stars – which includes if the employee wishes to take on more/is interested in working within any other departments. Notes are important and should be detailed accurately, shared with the employee and recorded on personnel files for future reference/to refer to at the next meeting in three months’ time.

Where are the Agile standards?

We believe that feedback is a continuous loop as this aligns with our Agile development approach. By this, we mean employees are encouraged to proactively request a catch-up/review (in a formal or informal setting) as and when required. Under Agile, employees should not feel they need to wait for any official process to engage with their manager regarding their career or any concerns. To mirror our end-of-sprint retrospectives we keep it simple, along the themes of;

  • What was good?
  • What was bad?
  • What are your ideas?
  • What are the actions?