Two weeks ago Anna and myself were at the Agile HR Conference in Cologne. We presented the status quo of peer review efforts and had some interesting conversations about agile management and hr. In this post I'd like to share some thoughts we presented.

When you look at most implementations of Scrum there are a great deal of feedback loops: Sprint-Reviews, Sprint-Retrospectives, Stand Ups, Pair Programming and even automatic Tests and Pull Requests. To these standard loops we have added department retrospectives every half year which we call offsites.

This is great so far and we still try to emphasize and improve on those since they give valuable feedback for teams. At the same time we noticed that we didn't improve on direct feedback and guidance for individual employees. In the last two years we grew from one team sitting in one room to four teams sitting in four rooms. Although we still work closely together the manager doesn't have as much time to get to know each and every developer.

For getting a grip on the problem we sat together for a couple of workshops. We wanted to define our context and find a concept that fits our current situation. We did this with external help from Manuel Koelmann whom we like to thank for his support!

After some discussions we defined our current context as follows:

  • We want more direct feedback for every developer.
  • We want to stay with the existing hierachies and let the manager do the employee talks for now.
  • We want to keep our ability to changing teams.
  • We want to start with a focus on employee guidance and development.
  • We want concrete, more often and faster feedback.

Setting our context helped us to define our concept we came up with a couple discussions later:

  • Each employee fills out an online form per quarter.
  • The form contains role specific questions to all his peers he works with.
  • For a developer his main peers are currently: Other developers in his team, the product owner, the manager and a self percetion.
  • Almost all of the questions can be answered with a scaled answer. In addition we have one freetext feedback per role.
  • The form needs to be finished within 30 minutes. We hope to have higher acceptance and faster feedback cycles.
  • The results are not given to the employee directly but filtered through the manager or HR. The results are than anonymously communicated in an employee conversation.

Please note that most of these steps reflect our current situation. Hopefully this differs to your setting ;-). We are a young company with even younger employees. We are still learning and want to with caution with this topic.

At the conference we also announced the availability of our implementation of the feedback form: The Adcloud PeerReviewApp. This is a simple Rails app that has to self hosted. Please note that it's very alpha and still contains bugs. But you should get an idea how it works and maybe you like join in efforts!?

So what's next? We are currently starting with the first reviews and are learning. There is lots to follow and we hope to tackle them sooner than later. If you have questions or comments please do so in this post or send us a Email. We love a hearty discussion!