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Basic Fundamentals of Agile Performance Management

“The great challenge to management today is to make productive the tremendous new resource, the knowledge worker. This, rather than the productivity of the manual worker, is the key to economic growth and economic performance in today's society.” - Peter Drucker

Agile runs by a different set of rules. It recognizes how outdated standard performance management is and how it disrupts the relationship between a company and their employees. In other words, the old operating system is hierarchical, which makes it hard for employees to see each other as equals and as a team. To further explain, managers are meant to condition their employees to be a specific way to complete tasks to reach an organizational goal but they are not asked how they will help reach that goal with the skills they have as knowledge workers.

The new system, Agile, is a network of teams that needs a guiding coalition because they’ll fail without it. Instead of leaving managers in charge of tasks, leave them in charge of helping knowledge workers make the right decisions. By teaching managers to manage decisions rather than the tasks of their employees, people learn to work as a team and this is better for productivity. Replacing this new responsibility of managing decisions with the old one of managing tasks means giving knowledge workers flexibility to change decisions accordingly based on the information available.

The basic fundamentals for correct implementation of Agile means:

  • Taking a complete shift from a hierarchy that focuses on ScrumBan to a network that focuses on Agile Techniques (which leads to new capabilities, better service delivery, etc.).

  • Placing more responsibility on knowledge workers and giving them a voice to make decisions.

    • Nothing in agile is made up – the people who know how to do things right are being encouraged to facilitate decisions based on their knowledge now.

“Performance management is a continuous process of identifying, measuring, and developing the performance of individuals and teams and aligning their performance with the strategic goals of the organization.” - Aguinis, Herman

Standard performance management has been around for a long time but times continue to change; particularly, the different lines of work that are available in the twenty-first century that weren’t available during the twentieth century (i.e. programmers, pharmacists, architects, etc.). For this reason, in order for an organization to reach an organizational goal, in the twenty-first century, the employees need the trust and flexibility to complete the job they were hired to do; this means working with employees differently than managers have in the past.

Agile Performance Management helps different levels within an organization work together. When companies acknowledge the different skills each department has and utilizes each skill accordingly, by giving employees the power to make decisions (with their knowledge), it strengthens the relationship between coworkers, managers, and even bosses. Consequently, employees grow confident as managers leave them to decide what needs to be completed, when, where, and how. After all, they are the best judge of character for knowing what activities to complete, in their department, that will ultimately help the organization reach its goal. Not to mention, it also enables managers to trust their employees more and people work better in environments where there’s trust.

Hence, shifting the role of delegation of managers to how they communicate with their employees, by helping each of them make decisions accordingly, the organization creates a unified front. Agile Performance Management changes the standard way of doing performance management by transitioning from how employees can help if they are directed to how employees do help when they direct themselves.

“Managers are agents of transformation, converting the workforce in developed countries from one of manual workers to one of highly educated knowledge workers.” - Peter Drucker

In Agile Performance Management, employees are meant to think for themselves how they will help their company grow instead of taking orders to do tasks that don’t utilize their skills in any way. Otherwise, the company hurts because they don’t progress. Companies grow by learning from their employees, to help reach the organizational role. But if employees are seen and not heard, the company is prohibiting its own growth.

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