Collaborative projects are a cornerstone of Agile development, but how can you recognize individuals for team work without spoiling team unity? Learn how to dole out praise and rewards without leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth.
The team had done an incredible job, and they knew it. Iteration by iteration they had built a new software product, and, when the deadline came, everything that had to be operational was working flawlessly. At an afternoon celebration, the division vice president thanked everyone who had contributed to the effort, and the team members congratulated each other as they relived some of the more harrowing moments of the last six months.
The Morning After
The next day, the team’s Scrum Master was catching up on long-ignored email when Dave, the development manager, called. “Say, Sue," he said, "great job your team did! I've been waiting for the product launch before I bothered you with this, but the appraisal deadline is next week. I need your evaluation of each team member. And if you could, I'd like you to rank the team from who contributed the most down to who contributed the least."
"But Sue," Dave said, "there must have been a most valuable player, a runner-up, and so on."
"No, not really," Sue replied. "But what I can do is evaluate everyone's contribution to the effort."
Sue filled out an appraisal input form for each team member. She rated everyone's performance but found that she had to check the "far exceeded expectations" box for each team member. After all, getting out the product on time was a spectacular feat, one that far exceeded everyone's expectations.
Two days later, Sue got a call from Janice in human resources. "Sue" she said, "great job your team did! And thanks for filling out those appraisal input forms. But really, you can't give everyone a top rating. Your average rating should be 'meets expectations.' You can only have one or two people who ‘far exceeded expectations.' Oh, and by the way, since you didn't rank the team members, would you please plan on coming to our ranking meeting next week? We are going to need your input on that. After all, at this company we pay for performance, and we need to evaluate everyone carefully so that our fairness cannot be questioned."
Sue felt like a flat tire. In the past, when she had a particularly difficult problem, she had always consulted the team, and they had always come up with creative solutions; so she decided to consult them once again. She thought she might convince them to elect an MVP or two, to help her put some variation into the evaluations.
The next morning, the entire team listened as Sue explained her problem. Sue was disappointed and surprised when after hearing her dilemma, instead of jumping in to help solve the problem, the team members deflated just as quickly as she had. The best they could do was insist that everyone had given 200 percent effort, that they had all helped each other, and that they had thought that every single person had done a truly outstanding job. They were not interested in electing a most valuable player, but they were willing to choose a least valuable player: the unnamed manager who was asking Sue to choose among them.
Now Sue really had a problem. She had no idea how to respond to Dave and Janice, and her plan to involve the team had only succeeded in making them angry and suspicious. Tomorrow, they would have to start working together on the next release. How could something that was supposed to boost performance do such a thorough job of crushing the team’s spirit?
Sue is not the only one who has had trouble with merit pay evaluation and ranking systems.
|Unjust Deserts||389.71 KB|