The Scrum Master Performance Review Step 3 – Translation

This is the third in a series of posts walking through my approach to the performance review process for Scrum Masters.

 7. Determine the meaning of “meets expectations” for the Scrum Master role.

  • Scale mapping. The rating scale for performance appraisals are typically on a 1 to 5 scale with the rating based on what degree a manager feels that an individual is meeting expectations and how consistently this is happening.  For each of the role expectation categories, determine the difference between meeting vs. exceeding expectations.
  • Talk to the experts. I wouldn’t do this on your own. Bring in some of your Scrum Masters and ask them what they would characterize an expectation that has been exceeded.  This should trigger some interesting discussion but it’s important that everyone aligns to a common understanding of what is expected and what it means to exceed expectations.
  • Experiment. Keep experimenting and working with the language until it feels right. A couple of examples of activities that exceeded expectations are: trying different technologies and communication methods with off-shore resources until they felt like they were here in person (Shape Team Experience), personal coaching and mentoring on an individual basis with those who are not adopting or resistant to Agile methodologies (Foster Team Health), taking a somewhat dysfunctional team and bringing a real sense of “love” or “level 4 tribe” into the group (Shape Team Experience), bringing multiple roles together to resolve organizational impediments (Change Your Community), and protecting the team from an overbearing or overly intrusive manager (Foster Team Health).

8. Cross-reference the Scrum Master expectation headings with company performance categories. 

  • Study the company competencies. Our company, and most others where I’ve worked, has competencies standards that apply to everyone and a manager will work some magic to determine the appropriate rating.  “Achieves Results” and “Teamwork” are typical competencies seen in many of the appraisal templates.
  • Match things up.  Attempt to match up the Scrum Master expectations you created with the headings provided by the company. Possible matches would be: “Achieves Results” with Remove Impediments and Maintain Flow, “Teamwork” with Team Experience and Team Health, “Communicates Effectively” with Team Experience and Radiate Information.  Not everything will align however and some categories will need to be rated on its own, such as a company provided competence of “Develop Self.”

9. Determine ratings based on your definition of “exceeds expectations” and your cross-reference exercise.

  • Look for the language change. Notice where your assessment scale changes expectation language.  For instance, the change from 3.4 to 3.5 may be the move from “meeting” to “meeting and sometimes exceeding” while 3.9 to 4.0 may be the move from “meeting and sometimes exceeding” to “consistently exceeding.”
  • Sync the feedback and observation language. Use your examples from the definition exercise in #7 and find corresponding language captured during the observation and feedback period in Step #2.  Obviously, this is more of an art than a science. Although it may take some detective work, you will see language emerge from your feedback sessions that should match your expectation definitions.  How you craft your questions in #5 and #6 will help this exercise considerably.
  • Land on a rating. Once you begin matching feedback and observation language with your expectation definitions, a specific rating for your Scrum Master should begin to emerge.  If it doesn’t emerge quickly or naturally, you may need to jump back to Step #2, Data Gathering, for more evidence or clarification. An example of landing on a rating was when everyone on a team, from the product owner on down, mentioned strong positive emotion in their feedback.  With statements such as “We love her!”, “You can tell she REALLY cares about her team and would do anything for us!”, “She celebrates every ones birthday with an outing that she sets up.”, the rating is obviously a 4+ for “Teamwork.”

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