Thursday, May 10, 2012

Team ratings in Scrum environment – How to measure individual performances

Measuring the individual performance in a scrum world is a very difficult proposition; in fact it is a paradox. Last day I had an interesting discussion on this with few scrum masters. One of the scrum master had a rating sheet which was updated after every sprint. There were points for scrum master, product owner & team. It was something like the following table

Another scrum master questioned the need of such ratings. A rating of 2.5, 4.5 or 4 doesn’t have any significance. It looks like the GPA score. If I get 9+ I will be considered brilliant; if I get less than 5 then I am a dumb, second class person. A Scrum Master with a very high score & team with low score don’t make any sense. It creates un-necessary competition.

Scrum is all about team work. It is a well-oiled machine. There is no individual superstar. Everyone has a part to play. If everyone performs their part to perfection, the full team including the SM & PO will get full marks. But I am not against ratings. These ratings should help the team and individuals to improve.

The ABCD of performance ratings

Personally I prefer a grading system like the one below.


  • A = Extraordinary effort. Did more than what was expected with lot of innovations 
  • B= Good effort, Met all the objectives of sprint & individual role.
  • C=Satisfactory, all the objectives of the sprint were not met. There is lot of scope for improvement.
  • D=Total disaster. (Can we replace this person?)
Giving ABCD grades is better than the numeric ratings. All the A’s are the examples of best practices; definitely you should share this with other teams. Team should try to convert all B’s to A’s. Here we need some innovation or out of box thinking. A new team will have lot of C’s . Initially this is a good thing to have. Scrum masters (& all others who can) should facilitate the removal of the impediments so that C is transformed to B. D is a special case. Special attention should be given to such cases. If the D’s are repeated for couple of sprints then, we should take the help of managers or HR. If you need some sort of individual performance metrics, just add all the A’s, B’s & C’s. (All the D’s will be out of the team or even company)

The UP –DOWN rating

Even this ABCD rating seems complex to me.


Just like scrum this method doesn’t have many rules (only common sense). Up arrow indicates that an improvement was made with respect to the role or task taken. The improvement should be noted & process which led to this should be identified and shared across.

A horizontal arrow indicates that the person has achieved what was expected from him/her. This doesn’t means that there is no scope of improvement. If we see this arrow consistently across multiple columns in multiple sprints then it is a pointer that the team & environment has stabilized. This is the right time to brainstorm to find better ideas which can improve the team productivity.

A down arrow points to the need of an action item to improve the process (or skill). Almost all the down arrows become a point for retrospective discussion. Like the ABCD ratings we can count the number & type of arrows to indicate the health & performance of an individual or overall team.

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