Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Impact of "Individual Performance rating" on projects

Many thought leaders have recommended organizations to follow "team performance ratings" rather than "Individual performance" ratings. Many books and blogs have been written about the topic. Even though I have read the cons of individual performance ratings in the past, recent story that I heard from a friend reinforced my belief about the negative impact of "individual performance ratings" on morale of the employees.

Here is the story, John (Say, not real name), is working for a mid sized company and the company is following waterfall model of software development. John is working on a project which has tremendous pressure and tight deadlines. His project has fixed schedule and fixed budget(cannot add more people to the project too), no room for any flexibility in the project plan. The release date of the project is carved on the stone already. Just imagine what would be the fate of the developers working on this project !!

So, John went ahead and escalated this issue to his superior about the team loosing morale, loosing patience and getting stressed out on this project. Superior refused to provide any support because this project is a high profile project and if the superior tries to bail the team out or try to do anything which affects the project deadline, the Superior's "promotion" which is due this year would get affected !!

After listening to the above story, I felt that, as long as an organization has "individual performance ratings" in place, people tend to keep their individual priorities/preferences above "the team's" or "organization's" goal. In order to get good rating, Every one in the team works hard to achieve their personal goals and in the process forgetting the organization/team goals.

Taking the above story a bit further, what might happen to the project now ? May be the team would put all efforts to meet the deadline, might even don't express their concerns around stress with any one (avoiding getting beaten up during the performance appraisal). However this stress is definitely going to affect the quality of the code that the team is developing. isn't it ?

Do you have any such stories ? feel free to share them here.


rajeev said...

agree with your opinion ...but what about the growth of the individual himself. Say he is an excellent performer, but his team is performance rating is just average this case the individual has to suffer bcoz lack of performance of the entire team ...(which may happen due to various reasons )

Venkatesh Krishnamurthy said...

Performance appraisal is not bad, however connecting it with rewards/punishment seem to encourage/discourage people from doing their responsibility. There are various ways to reward the individuals both at course grained level and the fine grained level. At the fine grained level, one could use specific set of questions as part of 360 degree feedback and reward the person appropriately. Person who is has excellent technical skills however if he is a pain for the team, one could easily make out from 360degree feedback. Software development is a team effort and team's consensus is very important.

Jeff Anderson said...

I think you need to have a personal plan for every individual in your organization.

That being said, this personal plan should not be tied to any one specific project, rather they should be tied to organizational contributions such as:
-provide key contributions to the successful delivery of product XXX
-Mentor junior resources as necessary to...

People need feedback on their personal performances, but a key part of that personal performance is how well they interact and support the team.

personal goals also have to be balanced with team goals which should be more immediate, and tactical. I.e., common team goals should be set for the day, and iteration, as well as the product. And that is the most important metric for success. But individual still need to be accountable for their own improvement

Just my $.02
my agile blog

Raghu Kashyap said...

Having worked on lot of agile projects I do believe that individual performance should not be rated rather team performance should be.

However, I completely agree with @rajeev's point that you always need to weed out the bad apple from the team otherwise you will bring down the team's morale even more.

I am a strong believer that along with team velocity you need to keep an eye out on individual velocity.

Venkatesh Krishnamurthy said...

Hi ragskashyap

Following link

provides good insight into the pros and cons of measuring Individual Velcoity.

Anonymous said...


Tks very much for post:

I like it and hope that you continue posting.

Let me show other source that may be good for community.

Source: 360 performance appraisal

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