It doesn’t matter what kind of product or services a business offers, it is essential to measure the employee’s productivity or performance, and it is more important to measure accurately as much as possible. Equally important is to use accurate performance measurements, which can reveal how well your business is progressing towards its goals and targets.
Measuring employees’ productivity is a bit of a challenging task. A 2013 Gallup survey report conveys the interesting fact about why there can be a fall in performance of the employees. The reason is most of the employees are overwhelmed by smartphones, social media, personal emails, and the demands of their personal lives. Most employees find it difficult to produce the best work they could give. Lack of interest towards the work leads to the low performance.
Measuring employees performance is one clear way to understand how skilled, engaged, and productive your employees really are.
More often than not, as an Agile
coach you might have been asked about measuring individual performance. Managers are worried about not being able to detect low performers in time and think of different strategies for doing it before it’s too late. And with “too late” I mean that it had a huge impact on the project or team.
Individual productivity can be measured through different strategies or metrics. If you read on, you will understand better the importance of employees productivity followed by the outcomes the team gets.
What can performance metrics bring for you?
- Performance metrics help you to create a snapshot of a team, which can be valuable when it comes to performance reviews
- Performance metrics can be used to plan ahead, by understanding what your team is capable of.
- Performance metrics give you the accurate measurements of how the process is functioning and provide a platform for you to improve further.
For employees, performance metrics provide-
- The right feedback
- Help them understand where they stand, and
- Let them know areas where they can improve
It indeed gives you immense pleasure and a great feeling knowing you have strengths in a particular area.
The applicability of Velocity
One of the common strategies any manager may think of is to use individual Velocity to solve this problem. And if the team is using Scrum, this idea may be rephrased as follows:
“Evaluate those cases in which a team member is completing fewer story points than the rest of the team since that person must be a low performer”.
If someone asked me this, my natural answer would be: it’s not a good idea!
Will Velocity give you a better result?
First of all, Velocity is not an indicator of performance:
- It just denotes the delivery rate of a specific team.
- It’s a team metric, not an individual one, and it serves for planning purposes. This means that any team may use it to understand how much work can be done in a specific period of time and, based on that, provide an estimate for a release date.
- You should also consider that velocity, as a team metric, cannot be established until the team has spent some time together. This means that, in most cases, the velocity of the first sprints of the team will NOT be high. In fact, I highly recommend setting the correct expectations in regards to this. If expectations are not correct, then for the team may seem as if they were not performing, when in fact they were just ramping up.
On the other hand, measuring individual productivity by using velocity has more problems than advantages (in fact, the truth is that I haven’t been able to find any advantages so far). People may get confused by the results obtained when using this metric and the outcome may not be a good representation of reality.
Why do I say this?
Well, let’s say that John and Mark work in the same team and have similar experience and knowledge.
John completes 20 story points and Mark only 10. This situation repeats over the following three sprints. Anyone may think that Mark is a low performer and that John is a genius! However, it may also happen that from the 20 story points that John completed each sprint, QA had detected over 100 bugs, but from the 10 that Mark completed, QA had only found 5. Now, which one is performing better than the other?
- For an individual, it’s not important to deliver a high productivity with a low quality, and less productivity with a high a quality adds an advantage to the employee as well as the team and the process too.
This is just an example that demonstrates that velocity per se is not a good metric. Not to mention that if the team is aware that they are being measured by velocity, there is a chance that they increase their estimates to meet their goals. I can bet that you have already experienced things like this as well!
We should not lose focus here. Remember that in an Agile world, what’s important is to constantly deliver value to the client: working software is the primary measure of progress.
Customer is the King
- We should never ignore the importance of customer satisfaction. There are many factors that contribute to the success or failure of a business, customer satisfaction is one of them, it’s much essential to track this factor and work on improving in order to make customers more loyal and ultimately turn up them up into brand ambassadors.
- When you fail to care about them, in the same way, don’t have a hope or don’t expect them to care about your services or products.
Forest Research declares 2017 as the year that businesses become customer-obsessed. So what is the secret?
Providing “Value” to the customer.
So, going back to the original problem, as a first step I would ask: what does low performer mean?
We’ll all agree it may mean that:
- The person is not working at his/her fullest capacity
- The person has not understood the vision of the project
- The person has not adapted to the team, or
- The person has not been empathetic to the business needs,
In this scenario, where there may be several causes for the problem, my recommendation would be that the team that is having the issue starts thinking of the big picture and work as a team.
It means that the whole team is responsible for delivering value and that the whole team is committed to that. If something is going wrong with one of the team members, (and this probably implies low performance) the whole team needs to address it in the retrospective, or before, in the best scenario.
Of course, the team may decide to take some metrics and use them to lead the conversation during the retrospective, metrics like: team velocity, number of bugs raised during the sprint, value added to the business, etc.
Based on those metrics, the team may discuss options to improve and accelerate their process. Or, on the contrary, and in an ideal situation, the team may not need metrics since they are fully conscious of their processes and know how to constantly improve it.
As you can see, if the organization is Agile, then every problem needs to be taken to the team. The team will know what to do with it. Managers will tend to ask for metrics and more metrics that help them understand the situation and fix it, but as Peter Drucker says-
First of all, take the problem to the team. Then, let the team manage the problems and improve based on their own experience.
And always remember, you are there to support the team and facilitate their improvements. To help them become a better version of themselves, do not become a roadblock for them.
The last lines
A well-measuring team productivity as well as a better handling of team results in providing a great customer service that satisfies both you and your targets as well. You get a proper revenue and make everyone happy, earn your brand name and enjoy great success.