I have the honor of writing XBOSoft’s final blog of the year, and I think it’s fitting that I’m now doing annual evaluations for members of our team (as I’m sure many of you out there are also doing!), so this post is about managing agile teams.
Managing agile teams is often tied to metrics and measurements. I was in a recent talk at StarEast last month on metrics and many were discussing agile metrics. One of the key points repeatedly raised was that you should never have individual metrics, only team metrics. So as I sit here writing evaluations, how should I be evaluating my team members if I have no individual metrics? Obviously everyone can’t get an A, can they? Some members of the team (albeit a winning team) contribute more than others. That’s just plain and simple. I raised this during the talk (a 3.5 hour tutorial), and got a plethora of responses but no real answer. As part of my question, I brought up that Americans love sports, so isn’t an agile team like a sports team? Only winning counts right?
As I left the room, I remembered a recent movie I watched. ‘McFarland’, where Kevin Costner coaches an underdog cross country team that eventually triumphs. In the movie, the team consists of several young men, some faster than others. At the end of each race, all members of the team know who is fastest; it’s quite evident who comes in first and last. This happens in life. We don’t all get the same grades in school, some people are smarter than others. In sports, some runners are better than others, some football players are better than others. They are still part of a winning team, yet they all get a different evaluation (salary) and the team counts on them to be professional about it. I don’t think that too many people on the Patriots complain that Tom Brady got a better evaluation (annual salary) than some others.
I just find it weird, and perhaps hypocritical that we, in the USA, are supposed to relish individualism and recognize that everyone is different. We should also recognize that our abilities are different, and different abilities therefore should get an evaluation for that particular sport. In this case, the sport is agile software development. Yet it seems we are not allowed to have individual measurements (that could affect a person’s salary) without creating hard feelings. We have high performers who make a larger impact on the team’s performance and success, and they should be paid more, shouldn’t they? I guess corollary to this is: How can we/I create an evaluation system that encourages this team and individual performance based on real measurement?