How do you recognize individuals in Agile/Scrum?

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Hello All,

I have been thinking lately about a question that someone posted on a LinkedIn Group discussion.  His question was “do you recognize individual performance in Scrum?”

Many of us are somewhat predisposed to a culture that rewards the individual.  You might call this type of model a meritocracy and one of the goals of management in this type of model is to reward those that regularly excel in their jobs.  By doing so, this serves to create a model of excellence for all team members..

Enter Agile and Scrum.  One of the key principles in Scrum is the self-managed team.  The team operates as one to move the project to completion.  They work together to make decisions and drive results.  The key Agile principle that governs this as stated in the Agile Manifesto is to “build projects around motivated individuals, give them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done.”

Although there is a lot of attention paid to the entity of the team in an Agile/Scrum project I also believe that to create “motivated individuals” that individual recognition and reward is essential.  The difference, however, rests in who does the rewarding.  In more traditional management styles, it is typically a project manager that selects the individuals that will be recognized.  Sometimes this can be a bit subjective and can actually create more animosity than motivation.

True motivation and satisfaction however will be achieved when individuals are recognized by their peers.  Therefore, I recommend that in keeping with the principles of Agile that the TEAM selects and rewards the individuals to be recognized.  One thought is to create a program of “Sprint Champion.”  After the completion of each sprint, the Scrum team votes for the person that contributed most to the Sprint.  The voting should be based on a set of performance criteria established by the team prior to the first Sprint.  A sample list of criteria could be:

  • Contribution of ideas that led to the success of the sprint,
  • Amount of assistance that a team member contributed to other team members in helping them achieve their goals,
  • Accomplishment of work based on the contribution to the overall team velocity,
  • Innovation in solving difficult problems,
  • Enthusiasm, and
  • Encouragement to other team members

Again, this list of criteria should be established by the team and there should be a budget that is managed by the team for each Sprint in order to recognize the Sprint Champion.  This could be distributed as cash bonuses, prizes, plaques and recognition parties.

I would be interested to know how your Agile/Scrum team recognizes individual performance?

Pete

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