Scrum Organizations and the Dreaded Annual Review

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Scrum Organizations and the Dreaded Annual Review

Self-organizing and self-managing is a core concept for Scrum, which means that there is no manager (project or functional manager) overseeing the day to day work of the team.

Absence of the functional manager leads to some confusion on conducting the least favorite task for almost all employees—the dreaded “Annual Review”. So, how do you do it?

Historically, the annual appraisal is a discussion between the functional manager and the individual. An individual is expected to fill out a pre-defined form with accomplishments in the past year. Their fate for a promotion or bonus is based on the “impression” on the manager. This unidimensional impression may be based perception, few feedback cycles (official and unofficial) or random conversations with your colleagues. As there is a deadline to submit the review, most times this process is rushed. So, at best it is a halfhearted painful chore to be done, which is not fair to an employee.

The feedback cycle is towards the end of the year and it does not give an employee any reaction time for improvements. It would have been nice to get the feedback earlier to have an opportunity to improve.

In Scrum Organizations, you work with the same team sprint over sprint, your teammates know your strengths and weakness quite well. Thus, it makes sense to get your annual review feedback from your team members.

At the retrospective meeting, the Development team members openly discuss the strengths and weaknesses about their teammates.

What I am proposing is that during the Retrospective meeting team members do a 360-degree evaluation on each other based on certain pre-agreed parameters and a rating system

  • The rating is done on a scale of 1-10. 1 being lowest and 10 being the highest
  • The team has pre-agreed success bench mark number for each role (ScrumMaster, Product Owner and Development Team).
  • Team members get an amalgamated metric on their personal rating.
  • This rating system is simple and quick which can be used at the end of every sprint.
  • Average of all the sprint level evaluation numbers to get the annual review rating

The sprint by sprint update on your performance helps an employee understand their weaknesses and it eliminates an arbitrary and subjective evaluation by someone who does not work with you on a daily basis. As an individual gets feedback early and often they have multiple chances to improve on their performance during the year, so there are no surprises. I see this as a very just and democratic way to annual reviews. Your thoughts?

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