Monday, 8 February 2016

Team agreements for Agile Performance Management

This post describes an approach for getting started with TeamSense in a way that is aligned with its three core values of Respect, Individual Development and Team Performance.

The first step is to establish some important up-front agreements. Doing this as a team draws on everyone's experience, gives people the opportunity to raise any concerns and gives the team ownership of their Performance Management process.

1. What competencies do we value?

Answering this question is a very valuable exercise in itself. It begins a team dialog on competencies, bringing people to a common understanding of what a particular competency means and looks like in the team setting.

TeamSense comes with a bunch of predefined competencies, which the team can customise or add their own. The competencies are expressed as a short heading, a brief description and a list of example behaviours.

To help this discussion one can use a deck of cards, each one with a competency name, description on the front and the example behaviours on the back. Teammates can pass them around, talk about their relevance to the team and ultimately select the ones they think most important. In addition there should be some blank cards, to allow the team to come up with their own competencies as they wish.

These cards are available here for you to use.

2. How frequently are we going to exchange ratings and feedback?

Having determined the competencies that matter, now the team need to agree how often they are going to exchange ratings and discuss their feedback. There are lots of options, from every 4 weeks through to every 3 months. 80% of participants each take less than half an hour to exchange ratings. This makes more frequent reviews a viable proposition.

3. Who are we going to discuss our feedback with?

Being able to discuss the feedback is very important. The options available depends very much on the culture of your organisation. In more traditional environments where people are used to Performance Reviews people may readily agree to sharing their feedback with their Line Manager. This is aligned with the Respect principle, as long as the Line Manager commits to sharing the feedback they received from the team with their Line Manager.

Of course, more progressive organisations have more creative options. For example an HR consultant can serve as the team's moderator. Their role is to support the team members in understanding and realising any recommendation they are given. Being external to the team, an HR moderator is well placed and appropriately skilled to do this as well as mediate between team members in conflict.

4. When will we review these agreements?

It is important to continuously apply the learning from previous review cycles. Just like any other activity, this one needs to be regularly inspected and adapted to ensure that it is still of value to the team.

Having decided the review cadence, the team can decide how many reviews to have before re-examining all of these agreements. It could be that the team may want to focus on different competencies, adjust the frequency of the reviews or find more helpful ways of discussing the feedback. If the team is very stable and ratings and feedback are very positive you might want to reduce the frequency or experiment with more specific competencies e.g. domain knowledge or technical expertise.


To get the most value from TeamSense, it should be used in a way that is aligned with its values and principles. A good way to begin is with a team discussion, the goal of which is to agree the competencies, cadence, conversations and retrospection. Talking about the competencies valued by the team is a useful exercise in its own right.

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